Into The Void

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Complacency is the mother of all change. Most of us, so it seems, can only stay comfortable for so long. Life is going well, there is an uncomplicated routine so marriage, children, leasing an apartment, etc. happens. Eventually, often after you’ve exhausted those previous options, the gnawing complacency and the desire for change that it creates moves inward.

Before you know it, you’re dieting, learning a new hobby, chasing a new career, and so on. Possibilities of what that desire can create within us are infinite. Our latent desire straddles the fence of being terrifying and liberating. Does this strange malaise of humanity ever go away, or does it subside, waiting for the right time to strike.

When the malaise sets in, it can be difficult to figure out what one wants. This is the nature of tradeoffs. New career skills would be great, but learning a language is fun. Having a social life would be wonderful, but getting more out of your career might be more prudent, and more beneficial in the long term. Decisions, decisions.

We can’t have it all, but voids are difficult to fill. Additionally, it’s straight up unhealthy to fill those voids with entities that may not fix them. Loneliness can’t be cured by drugs. Lust for drugs, and alcohol and partying also cannot be fulfilled by intellectual pursuits. Usually, a wild social life must be substituted for a regular one; loneliness is usually fixed via a rewarding hobby and fulfilling relationships with other people.

Of course, we are all different. Miraculously, some people can substitute their voids with unconventional pursuits. What do you think those unconventional things will be? Maybe it’s best for us to simply know that the malaise will come and that we should prepare for it. You can never really know what you want, well, until you get it.

Ain’t that something?

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Routine

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Sometimes I struggle to think what this blog is for, though, not in a negative way. When you do anything for a long enough time that it becomes routine, you stop thinking and your subconscious takes over. Funny enough, this is one of our many similarities to computers.

Currently, I’m reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. There are some great quotes about time, existence, and humanity. One that struck me was about how routine, despite taking up most of our lives, is rarely ever part of our memories. For instance, we are more inclined to remember and ruminate on moments that agitate our emotions or at least seem eventful. “From nothing to nothing is no time at all.” Steinbeck writes.

No matter who we are or whomever we aim to become, a routine is a boring necessity of life. Skills, hobbies, friendships; all of those require some form of routine. With each of those, the little moments are shuffled under the carpet while the emotional ones are left to shine like bulbs. On one hand, it’s unfortunate, because it’s useful to remember how you gained a new talent, skill, or friend; remembering would serve you well in gaining more of those things. However, having a memory full of tiny moments that poke at our emotions is human nature.

Adventure stories tend to romanticize ideas of breaking up the monotony of normal, everyday life. Whether it’s a movie about searching for the “right” person or a story about hunting a whale, normality doesn’t excite us. Of course, it shouldn’t and it won’t but, many people say that romantic ideas should be drawn from the mundane. Ordinary life, for example, was a key focus for the dramatic, flowery -language-loving singer Morrissey when he wrote with The Smiths.

Find the right job, find the right spouse, find whatever excites you. How long can anyone stay excited? Perhaps it’s best to find the most wonderful mundanity you can possibly find. Who on earth can even make every day an adventure? And even so, wouldn’t adventure seem mundane if you go on one every single day? Romanticize the ordinary, share the extraordinary, rinse, repeat.

If only our brains were that simple.

A Strange Salvation

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Will anything save the soul? So many industries and people revolve their lives around the idea of salvation. It must be worthwhile to ask whether or not souls exist, right? After all, if they do exist, then what on earth can nurture a soul? Burgers, fries, and other assorted junk food? That would be wonderful.

A couple weeks ago, while taking an Uber to the airport, the driver saw his opportunity to preach about souls. During the thirty minute ride, he quoted a few bible passages and tried to convince me that there is an afterlife where our souls live on. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a pastor or televangelist, otherwise, he might have figured out how screwed my soul is. Without the power of a seer, or any ability to see my inner workings, I decided I should let him ramble on; an Uber ride is no place for a theological debate.

What makes us so obsessive over the idea of salvation? At some point, we all become aware of how little time we actually have on the planet. Perhaps the obsession over salvation and an afterlife is a bid for all the lost time. Salvation could possibly be the reaction to the realization that death is indiscriminate in its hunger. Shit, salvation could actually exist for all I know. Then the obsession wouldn’t seem so unhealthy to me.

Focusing on the salvation of oneself, quite often, keeps us from enjoying our surroundings. What happens if the light at the end of the tunnel is dim? When you reach the bright, flashing light at the end, it’s possible that you will look back and have difficulty in extracting joy from the journey. Perhaps, if luck is on your side, you could become a person who enjoys seeking salvation and can enjoy your surroundings.

Some people aren’t so lucky. The promise of salvation sometimes brings pain, insurmountable debt, fates worse than death, and sometimes chasing salvation can cost one their entire lifetime. Certainly, the notion of salvation has its benefits. Waiting for salvation gives many people hope, fulfillment, and it sometimes even does the dirty job of satisfying the ego.

So is salvation a good thing, does it really exist? Yet, another question each individual must decide for themselves. Who knew adulthood would involve so much thinking?

Happiness For All

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Perhaps the following word spaghetti is the result of reading too many existentialist novels or just a product of nurture. Hell, it could be both. Whatever it is, I can’t help but feel like our idea of happiness as a civilization, and culture is flawed.

Often, you will watch celebrities on television, and read books, websites, etcetera, where people push the idea of striving for happiness. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, but the length people will go to in order to convince themselves of their own happiness is strange. Everyone can’t be happy. Even consistently happy people aren’t happy all the time. So then, what should all the other people who dabble in other emotions strive for?

That’s up to them. Some people seem sad all the time. Society dictates that something is wrong with people who are sad most of the time. Is there? Isn’t it weirder that society demands that people should be happy all the time? No one is ever-smiling in real life. Except for people on television.

Striving for contentment is a great alternative to happiness. But with something so subjective, (What does contentment mean to you? ) there are plenty of traps and questions to ask. How do you know when you are content, and when are you fooling yourself into feeling contented? What are your own parameters for contentment?

Those list of questions can go on forever. Unfortunately, while you can get help on gaining contentment, you can only ever know for yourself what it means to be fulfilled. Life’s greatest quality and its greatest flaw is that all the necessary questions must be answered by the self.

 

The “E” Word

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Over the last decade or so, “entitlement” has become a popular political buzzword. As long as you have a pulse, no one has to tell you which parties are using that word. Entitlement and certain people’s perception of people with entitlement issues have become gasoline for socio-political argument-fires. Exactly what we need; another topic you can’t discuss at dinner parties.

Aside from the fact that most people don’t use the phrase “dinner parties” anymore, the perception of entitlement is strange. On one hand, people against entitlement think that you shouldn’t feel entitled to jobs or feelings of superiority because of your degrees, education etc. Except, those same people would argue like many other’s do, that your degree should have something to do with the jobs you hold because a degree or formal form of education denotes that you trained for something. Paradox much?

Sure, the people against entitlement have a point. There are some unsavory people out there who use their degree to look down on others. Also, some people are definitely underqualified for the jobs that they want, even with degrees. Furthermore, there are some degrees out there that have no credibility.

Where the opponents of supposed entitlement mentality are incorrect, is in their assumption that being demanding is a sin. Unfortunately, we live in a time where the job market requires that you must be demanding to some extent. If you have an education, you have to push and stand out so that you can use your education. Figuring out the job market and intrinsic desire for a great quality of life both require some entitlement.

After all, do you think the pundit who derides entitlement doesn’t have any? Really? Some millionaire, on television, on the most popular network, who fought to be there, definitely has some entitlement. Somewhere, deep down, that pundit along with the others believe that they deserve their success.

Is that not entitlement? Funny how the hand that points always has three more fingers pointing back than forward.

 

Another Year Down

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Birthday’s fly by once every year. And at least once every year, you should take it upon yourself to eat some birthday cake. Or you know, go crazy, have fun, let loose, whatever.

There’s nothing really strange or profound about birthdays anymore. At worst, they’re just another day. At their best, it’s another day but some cool shit happens. Both seem great. Even if that age is twenty-nine, or thirty, it probably won’t make a difference.

I’m not sure I understand the strange aura around turning thirty. Is it that, many people at thirty had a hope for a better life than they have? Does thirty signal and end of youth? Is it because thirty is considered middle-age despite how most people aren’t settled?

Maybe it’s all of those reasons. Perhaps a large part of the thirty-year-old mystique has to do with the high frequency with which super-young, wildly successful gorgeous people take up room in our headspace. Aspirationally, who wouldn’t want to be one of those people? For every shooting star of a celebrity, there is always a lonely, brilliant, curmudgeon like Napoleon.

In addition, they aren’t always as young as we think, and there are far more stories of failure than success. Ordinary doesn’t sell any newspapers, unfortunately. After all, celebrities can’t all be wonderful, wealthy, and well-adjusted, can they?

Comparing Yourself In Capital(ism)

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Capitalism occupies a strange space. Getting hung up on comparing yourself to other people near your age, in your social group, or in any way can lead to ruin. To some extent, thanks to human behavior, you will compare yourself to another person. One of the biggest strengths of a capitalistic society involves using that fact to inform economic policy.

In the U.S.A books about the self, which often rely on humanities desire to be introspective, command high sales figures. Ironically, these books warn against our habit of comparison. Should we be in the middle road of this strange piece of human behavior? Or if one monkey has a stick to gather bugs, shouldn’t the others have sticks to gather bugs with?

When you learn anything, you tend to compare yourself to someone who is better. After all, everything is easier to learn if you have an ideal to aspire to. The downfall of this is that some people are just naturals whom we can never live up to. Additionally, some of our heroes may be so far removed from our own personalities that emulating them could wind up being a  huge mistake.

When it comes down to regular life, the desire for independence, your own place, and the responsibilities associated with all of those things is great. But, everyone can’t be Jay-Z or even the neighbor with a six-figure job and a stable life. So how do you reconcile what you want with what you have? Humility is not worth the effort if you’re starving, and confidence makes easy bedfellows with arrogance when you’re wealthy.

We can’t have everything, but even necessities are difficult to obtain sometimes. Get all the necessities you can, and fight for the things you want. So far, that seems as good a plan as any.