Tag Archives: 2008

How I am conscious: My experiences seem to require processing thru writing

I tried to answer D’s question about metaphysics — what’s beyond our particular lives and consciousnesses — and I don’t often think in that way. My experience interests me too much, I guess. “Experience” is too vague a word. What is it I’m getting at when I write my journals, especially when I get engaged in a specific idea or today? These are ideas that came to me last night, at the party or after, and I guess I like that about myself. It’s how I am, you know? I didn’t try to get drunk or try to force it. How I am conscious involves observing, thinking — maybe others just party and let it go, maybe others tell stories — I draw conclusions, note spontaneous thoughts.


♦ Girl in orange top and jeans doing her wiggle dance as we four sat in chairs in front of the back door to Leombruni’s. …

♦ Seeing — avoiding — [former] students

♦ Some older rough biker types — not real rough, but authentic, not suburban doctors on a weekend bike ride

♦ All these people who work just to put on a party (well, and make money, and promote the city)

Apparently these thoughts just come to me. I have this experience of looking at people …, and I at some point abstract this — these — moments of experiences (these momentary experiences) into larger abstractions. But I have this drive to understand, too — my experiences seem to require processing thru writing. Well, maybe I’d do less of this if I wasn’t in the practice of getting up and writing — and yet, I had plenty to write about today, ideas from last night, and some new ideas that came as I wrote.

[From journal of Saturday, 12 July 2008, Journal 104, page 93]

You don’t have to see your life so simplistically

You don’t have to see your life so simplistically as: “I like my life” or “I don’t.” First, it doesn’t matter whether you like it or not — it just is — and when you define your life narrowly, then N’s rhetorical attack can get a foothold (and when I don’t define it, N would say I’m prevaricating, I’m afraid to, etc. N’s viewpoint allows, brooks, little opposition.

But life goes on and changes. Maybe you are doing the best you can with your life now.

10:28 — back from potty break and CNBC. Ok, where was I? Something about letting go of this thought that my life is bad and letting go, being present, not attached to that abstract comment, that mere idea. Right, let go, let go that idea. It’s sorta interesting but not permanent by any means. You don’t’ need to argue stuff with N, with your mental image of N.

[From journal of Friday, 11 July 2008, Journal 103, pages 72-3]

There’s no need to fear, well, anything!

Maybe the wise answer, the Answer of Wisdom, or Answer of the Voice of Wisdom, is to not seek purpose so hard — to just appreciate the present moment and to not be obsessed with these abstractions of Purpose, all that — and yet, I wonder why this felt-need for Purpose comes to me now and then. Why do I keep returning to it? Perhaps that’s just an obsessive habit, perhaps I’ve been writing too much today and so I return to the Existential Void, yet again. And it is pretty pleasant just to sit here and write, you know? I could go read some old journals but that seems like a shift into work, a bit.

(Something that I’ve noticed lately: I’ve noticed a couple people say in the media, Carlin was one, or maybe it was him twice, who said he’s not into dirty words just to throw them out there unintentionally — he called that ignorant, I think — that he used dirty words to make a point, or in service of the rhythm, the auditory punch of a swear.)

Maybe what I’m talking about, with this lack-of-purpose talk, is just that if I did have a task before me, I’d be doing that, my attention would be on that — and that without a task, this is how you think. I mean, you could be meditating, in which case all thoughts could be abandoned, let go, and you really could be part of this moment, absorbed in it — though you haven’t done a lot of meditating since last summer, with your anxiety. You have found it easy, preferable, to stay occupied — and maybe you need to face that void of meditation more often? Maybe not facing it, not meditating, is making you feel more of a lack of purpose — or a lack of comfort and calm that you feel as a lack of purpose. Maybe this comes back to just that: being more accepting of life itself — doing more meditating, having less fear of my thoughts, any thoughts (and so many fearful thoughts come from the media, anyway — if I lived without media, I’d have fewer thoughts to fear?). And since last summer, I haven’t been as interested in trying to control my thoughts. I think I tried to do that last summer, to frustrating result (especially when trying to sleep).

But there’s no need to fear, well, anything! Accept, let it all go. Whatever it feels to be alive. Maybe (sh!t — I thought I may have had some brilliant way to end that sentence by the time I’d get halfway through it — some way to relate my ennui this morning to … relating my sense of, relating my feelings today and my attempt from a few days ago to describe what it’s like to be alive.

[From journal of Fri. 27 June 2008, Journal 102, page 122-4]

Our second dog—will we be quite as attached to him as we were to Gracie?

Our second dog—will we be quite as attached to him as we were to Gracie? I’m not sure. We now know dogs can die—duh—but we feared death, we feared Gracie’s death. I remember thinking repeatedly that I never wanted to bury Gracie. But we did. It was hard—it’s hard to think of such a vital dog, gone.

And yet, OK, I’ll say it—life is loss, in a way, but I don’t want to privilege loss. It’s not more important than presence. Gracie was our dog, our healthy dog, for most of 7 years. We worried more than we needed to—both of us, I’m sure, but me, specifically.

The little girl just hung back yesterday—she would lick my hand, but she didn’t seek us out like Tippy [renamed “Sammy,” seen here and here and here and here, once he was ours] did. And I don’t know why we weren’t as interested in the bigger male. Tippy got a bit startled, he’d shrink back when I moved too quickly, but he also just seemed the friendliest. He’s very sweet, T__ said. He’d come up and lick us very quickly. It was funny how quickly all three dogs would start whining once one would start. They whined when they were getting hot in the sun? She moved the whole cage wall by dragging it.

Puppies—their hair seems a little wiry—not as healthy as Gracie’s was? Well, it’s not as slick as Gracie’s was, but then maybe this will be a finer type of hair, anyway, more like Frodo’s or a German Shepard’s than a lab’s. But Lab hair by itself is a little coarse—J__’s dogs at Mom’s place on Memorial Day.

Ah, well. We so didn’t want Gracie to die, and then she did. Perhaps we were overly quick to get surgery. She might have died anyway without that last surgery. I’m sure the last one in March was completely superfluous. But now we know, like a parent with a second child (maybe?) takes the little stuff in stride.

You know, there’s just no good way to communicate my sense of loss, how harsh it seemed that Gracie had to die. Still makes me sad—how hard it was to lose her. It’s making me tear up now, as I did yesterday. M said it makes her feel bad to see me cry.

[From journal of Mon., 4 Aug. 2008, Journal 103, page 320-1]

I check windows in summer at bedtime and the stove before I leave

I said how I check windows in summer at bedtime and the stove before I leave and heaters in the winter. I recall Uncle A__ warning me against putting papers against the electric baseboard, back when I was 5 or 6 or something and we stayed overnight there. Mom said she doesn’t remember staying overnight, and now, it does seem odd that we’d stay over only an hour from home. Oh, well.

I check before I leave but I almost never go back into the house once we’re on the road. … Mom said, what would happen if you didn’t check these things? The house would burn down, I said, and we laughed.

[From journal of Sat., 26 July 2008, Journal 103, page 235-6]

As if somehow people were shirking their duty in buying the crap houses

I talked to mom on phone yesterday morning for 83 minutes (so said the phone’s display when I hung up) and Mom said she thought it silly that people were saying consumers just need to go buy more stuff to help economy. And I heard somebody on CNBC yesterday morning saying that refinances were up but the market needed to see more home buyers—as if “The Economy” needs individuals to burden themselves with these ridiculous things called mortgages. I mean, what he says sounds absurd if you think about it from an individual’s viewpoint. It seems like a normal thing to say from the view of the whole economy or from the view of the stock market (traders), but if you take what he’s saying as advice to individuals, it’s absurd. He makes it sound as if there are buyers just sitting there with cash, waiting—or as if somehow people were shirking their duty in buying the crap houses the developers build. …

Again this winter I’m noticing how much those bright, fluorescent pinks, limes, and oranges stand out against snow—as if they glow. …

[From journal of Thurs. 25 Dec. 2008, Journal 107, page 123-4]

A preacher, not a seeker

4 p.m. Watching Louise Hay on Oprah.

Your thoughts can change your life—I’m not sure if I accept that as true. I’m not sure how to accept that, what does it mean?

Maybe this isn’t the best idea for obsessive-compulsives, who already believe their thoughts control their lives.

Why the fear? of death (as my brother seemed)

I don’t need to be afraid of these ideas.

… felt the “core of peace”—make lists from a place of acceptance, not shallowness

Love List—all these people are just mistaking coincidences & correlation for causation? Their list is just their belief in the possible. Oprah: “my belief is miracles.” So all this is basically about faith?

They’re finding patterns where none exist? Why are we setting goals—that cultural habit of the moment.

Hay: “the universe gives you ideas”—universe?

Martha Beck—confusing quantum physics with energy. “If you don’t need anything, everything comes to you.”

L. Hay—You have to forgive, let go (those words) of the past before you can heal yourself.

My brother said it sounded terrible, painful, to him to hear me say I hate my life less than I did.

These examples people have—their lives were bad, and now (a year later) better. Why label either?

Cheryl Richardson, 3rd expert.

OK, I can get, I can agree with, letting go negative thoughts. But trying to control …”deciding to go with courage rather than fear”

Why this “work” (as Oprah called it)? Why would we control our thoughts? The woman whose husband lost his job—L. Hay says he was resisting leaving it so it was taken from him. Why such a self-satisfied bullsh!t explanation?

I mean, I don’t want to oppose this. I don’t want to criticize it. But I just don’t think it fits me.

3 things you want in your life on a sticky note—L. Hay, on mirror.

What a choppy, unfocused episode of Oprah–a couple minutes on an example, and then another commercial. I may not have even watched Oprah before.

So, what would I really want?

  • Move to Madison (but we’d miss here?)
  • Be out of debt
  • Have a job I love
  • Enjoy the process of writing a book

Aren’t these all external conditions, though? And happiness doesn’t need to rely on these?

Interesting—the woman whose husband was out of work—they didn’t tell their friends because they didn’t want the dark energy—she didn’t want to go to a “dark place.”

OK, and yet, others are just offering sympathy, condolence, human support.

Oprah’s a preacher, not a seeker—and jeez, she reminds me, with her unthinking assurance in metaphysical stuff, of ___

All these testimonials from her watchers—they don’t seem to have big problems? No big illnesses

Oprah’s line about her guests’ books: “All of them will help you on the journey to yourself.”

Maybe, OK—So I was joking when I described my life to my brother—”hating my life less”—So maybe I should use other words? Yet, that’s silly, too.

[From journal of Thurs. 12 June 2008, Journal 101, pages 67-9]

Do they know who to be or what to do when they aren’t being something to others?

Another New York Times poster said don’t worry about the attention. If your art is good, it will naturally draw attention—focus on the process. But this Emily character really wants the attention. I mean, here she is, writing a long piece for NYTimes about how she felt exposed and how her boyfriends didn’t want her to write about them. It’s like that back-and-forth sniping—the only way to end it is to not respond. And that whole weird blog community, and the weird NYC young ambitions editor/writer community, that’s weird and sad to me.

Julia Allison, Emily Gould—those young women (of whom, according to another Gawker post I stumbled across, there are many more number than men—about 200K more single women than men in NYC region, according to a map at that Gawker post), these young women and their race to be famous—they seem innocent and sweet, vaguely, when profiled (as Allison was a few weeks ago, as “the next Carrie Bradshaw” from “Sex & City”) or published (as Gould was). They seem like normal, sweet sorts whose ambition is a little misguided, but a healthy attempt. But then when I go to the blogs and the Gawker site (which is always highly critical—snarky—and cynical, taking down anyone who succeeds as talentless and/or well-connected), these women don’t seem that innocent at all. They don’t seem like innocent strivers but a form of self-creating person, self-promoting, endlessly self-promoting, and willing to do almost anything—date the right people, break up with long-standing boyfriends—to “make it.”

Surely those self-creating people have existed in (after moving to) cities for generations, but it’s just so different from people here in small towns. It’s such a different value code than what I grew up to think is admirable, natural and healthy. [My friend] Doug said Paris Hilton has succeeded in getting fame for herself, which, in her world, may be quite the accomplishment. I mean, clearly money and lifestyle and connections aren’t important to get—she already has those—and maybe these NYC bloggers & socialites are the East Coast version. And yet there just seems something so unhealthy to me about this whole thing.

I mean, one way of looking at my project, my process, is to say that I’ve been wanting to strip away artifice and myth and image and all that isn’t essential (not that such a process is original to me—it’s the Descartes method, it’s basic philosophy point of view or starting point), and here these people mostly are trying to exactly create artifice, inhabit image and myth, and to become what they are not. They want to become larger than life—famous—and they want to define and (as is so often used as a verb lately) brand themselves—which Sartre (philosopher) said was bad faith.

Here’s the thing (as time runs short): these people who spend so much time working to present themselves to others in a particular way—how do they even take downtime? Do they know who to be or what to do when they aren’t being something to others? (Of course, in my truth search, I forget to take downtime, too—but it’s so easy for me to let go, to not have much artifice.) Perhaps all our social life, our public selves, are something of artifice, of habit—but, jeez, we’re not selling these selves, not making our livelihood this way.

[From journal of Fri. 23 May 2008, 5:43 a.m., Journal 100, page 50-2]

A feeling of purity and of righteousness

Once upon a time, I would’ve had a lot of respect for people who were minimalists on principle. Back in ’98–’99, when I was all into the Back to the Land movement, reading all about it, I had thought it was neat for people to move to rural areas and make a go of it—poverty by choice. Well, if it’s by choice, it isn’t exactly poverty—it’s minimalism, or something. There is that quote about a man is rich judging by the fewer things he needs. That’s not quite it. The idea is, if you have big needs, you’ll never be rich, but if your needs are small, you can be rich (which is sorta true of humans psychologically—even wealthy people feel they need more—and we did play Lottery last night. Cal at Marathon pointed to the $270 million pot, and asked if I wanted some. I hadn’t been thinking about it, but I followed his suggestions, got $5 worth, including $2 from last week or so, when I got the Money Ball correct.)

But, and maybe here’s a lesson I’ve learned from my adherence to vegetarian principle, from my practice of vegetarianism for reasons of principle—that it’s oddly powerful to adhere to principle, more powerful than one might think: a feeling of purity and of righteousness, of your specialness as a persecuted (sorta—that’s how you think of it) minority.

[From journal entry of Sat. 23 Feb. 2008, Journal 96, Page 255]

Adults have a simply greater capacity for living, for understanding

It’s wisdom to acknowledge that I can’t really give advice: I don’t know who that person is or what he/she needs. I can say that each person needs to—or, will, anyway—find their own path, and I’ve made my own path—I’ve made my path by walking it—but I can’t really recommend it to others, you know? There’s something small-minded about giving advice. Like N. (or any motivational speaker, pastor, business-leader’s “leadership” book) telling me what I ought to do—he doesn’t know what I need, or even where I should go (what my goal should be), which is not to say all advice is bad. Some may help a person, but that person doesn’t know what he needs to hear until he hears it, and the advice-giver doesn’t know what that person needs. And that could be an argument for giving lots of advice and letting the receiver choose among all those—but more advice doesn’t always help. It can mislead a person, or make them feel bad (as to a perfectionist/obsessive type such as myself who tends to hear advice as shoulds and standards for judgment). I didn’t know what to say, except the banality about “each person finds own path,” which doesn’t really need to be said, and so I added no comment.

I have a note here from yesterday that says an adult’s wisdom doesn’t need to be used only for practical things such as making more money (the businessman’s wisdom) or for changing the world (the activist’s wisdom). No, wisdom is its own reward, and, yes, adults do gain practical (useful) wisdom about the external world, but they also have, as Charlie ___ did, a simply greater capacity for living, for understanding, etc.

[From Sun. 20 April 2008, Journal 99, Page 33]