1.08.2014

The Story

Well, I was lying four months ago when I said I'd post something new and exciting here. I haven't really been hit with the inspiration stick too often in this arena lately. Something about too much sarcasm, not enough substance being the theme when I actually get down to wordcrafting. Or that's just it: there's just about aught but wordcraft in my verbal peregrinations. Using that little vocab gem, I just may have proved myself wrong. But so it goes.

It's hard to be insightful. Or it's that I often find it hard to be. I find myself drawing blanks more and more lately although in a sense this is not necessarily a bad thing. It's one of those phases, one of those life-things that get described as phases that are just a period of time with a certain theme or vibe, maybe. So while I could carry on with tales of 50 foot climbing falls where I thought I was going to die, or of unroped climbing exploits where I thought I was going to die, or of pot food overdoses that made me think that I most certainly was going to die but that first I'd lose all personality and my brain would pour out my ears, I'd much rather settle for some good old introspection. Those stories are good sometimes but a lot of times they just don't stick in writing. You kinda had to be there, you know, in my brain, while it struggled with the flood of adrenaline (and/or THC) to maintain order. Most everyone has been there and knows those feeling regardless of their origins, so sometimes it's a bit of a nonstarter to try to evoke them.

Stories are good, of course. I'll tell the same ones dozens of times until I realize they've all been heard. A lot of them are downright mundane. But they are what create our worlds, in some sense, at least in our minds. They give us a sense of temporal order, a timeline, a sense of dimensionality, geographically, personally and in time. Where I'm going with this is that for all intents and purposes, I am a story that I tell to myself while I'm awake. While I'm asleep, a different story is told that's often indistinct, hard to remember or hard to believe or even to hear, or some combination thereof. But the waking story, the one that I think I can believe, is kind of a constant. There is a core narrative, the one that hasn't changed much since whenever I became aware that there was 'I', whenever I became, for better or worse, separate from everything around me. Oh sure, it changes. It's built upon moment by moment, edited by lapses in memory and certain deleterious substances. It sways and shifts a bit sometimes, alters its narrative tone a little. But fundamentally it doesn't change a lot and so it follows that it's rather hard to change.

The reason I thought of this at all is, yes, a result of personal crises. These are the types of crises that would be unimaginably banal to describe. Everybody has them, either the same, similar, or at least thematically aligned. It's more what they represent that has the possibility of being a worthwhile topic of discussion. What happens when the story that I constantly tell myself that, erm, by my logic constitutes who I think I am, isn't what I want to hear? There's a core story arc that seems inviolable; it's almost an unwritten rule that we are, in essence, who we are. Maybe it's true, because really the challenge for me is changing the way I think. But in some ways, that and who I am seem the same: I create my idea of myself with this feedback loop of thought that I call a narrative. Let's just drop the metaphor and say I want to change the way I think. OK.

Moving on: part of what spurred this was hearing a talk by an Irishman whose name escapes me. It was a meditation on thought and how it shapes us, namely by these habitual feedback loops that create the world we inhabit. Each of us inhabits a highly personal and unique world. It's a similar idea to how we can, most of us, agree that red is red when we have no way of knowing how each of us really sees the color red. It's an agreement that we make and yes, there's the common anatomy of the retina and the physics of light but the ultimate processing of 'what is red' is more cognitive and thus unique to the individual. So it follows that each of us sees a different world in which we find enough commonalities to make agreements. But each of us is alone in our respective head, so to speak. Our thoughts are our own and can't be directly known by anyone but ourselves. The core argument of this talk was that these thoughts that essentially comprise us can be changed under the right circumstances, those being a certain determination to alter the sort of status quo feedback loop that exists and that creates, well, our personalities and us as individuals.

My interest in this? Life is amazing and also short. The world is full of unimaginable beauty. We aren't just sentient meat on a spinning rock. If I think about the way I think I get frustrated. I'm not centered. I realize that being open-hearted is the only way to approach a life so amazing and so short but I'm often anything but. An overabundance of doubt, sarcasm, self-effacement; judgment of people, places and things; the inability to make choices; these are all in avoidance of some other way of looking at things, a way other than that life is a zero-sum deal, a war zone that must be navigated each waking moment and sometimes even during sleep. It's silly and kind of melodramatic to describe it that way but if the idea or thought gets repeated enough times it's amazing the depths to which the mind can sink. So yes, change is good. But changing isn't any one simple thing. There's the old saying, which I just assume is old because it's such an awful cliche, that no matter where you go, there you are. A change in surroundings, ya that's good sometimes. Sometimes it's totally necessary. It certainly was for me this year, so I moved away from the city. But the core of my being? Unchanged. And yes, maybe that's the way it is, because who I am is often shrouded by this miasma of thoughts run amok. Maybe it's these ancillary self-narratives that can and should be subject to change for the better, a kind of fine tuning. Because it's not long before the story is published and the world has gone by and the epitaph is regret and worry and missed opportunity. It's not the way to live, this constant negating, missing the forest for the trees. Life-affirmation is the key; Nietzsche said that too although he probably would also say that this blog post is a load of solipsistic fuckall if he knew what a blog post was in 1850.

Anyway, that's enough for now. You've heard it from the horse's mouth that change is good, me being the horse in this case, or something. Or I might just seem troubled, but I think it's mostly in a good way. It's a shakeup, getting the wheel out of the furrow before it wears too deep and gets stuck spinning in place. Overcoming inertia. Maintaining quantum coherence. Uh huh, yep.








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