Good Intentions

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Humans often try to do the right thing and as I write that, two great quotes come to mind. From A Bronx Tale, Sonny says,  “Nobody cares.” a handful of times. The next quote is one that I have written before on this blog, and whose originator is unknown at this point. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

“Nobody cares.” given the context is not a cynical line. Really, the point of the line is to illustrate how, within the confines of society, many people like to give the illusion of caring. In fact, many people who display that illusion are often convinced that they are caring. This isn’t to say that empathy doesn’t exist, or that everyone’s version of caring is wrong, but it is more to do with the idea that people or creatures involved in society have a hard time thinking for themselves and are often selfish.

This leads to the second quote, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” How can you tell if your good intentions will result in something positive, or if the consequences will be dire? It’s not always possible to do. For example, donating is great, but few people are capable of seeing where those donations actually go. Alternatively, extreme skeptics seem to hate every charity.

These thoughts came about during Thanksgiving break because the issue of legalization came up. In New Jersey, the new governor is fast-tracking legalization efforts for marijuana. Among the older crowd, this turned into a debate. One of the greatest ironies that I ever saw is that one of the men who were so adamantly against legalization had a teenage son who was napping in another room because, well, let’s just say he had a fun night.

Legalization is the perfect product of both of those quotes. Now, I’m not judging either party above, but we have both quotes in action thanks to both of them. ( Should either of those parties happen upon this blog, well then I’m sorry. ) Good intentions say that we shouldn’t legalize drugs; chaos will occur. Not caring is realizing that they’re being bought, sold, and snorted anyway. Often both the users and dealers cost everyone more tax dollars, more headaches, and can only ever get clean of their own volition. Not even rehab seems to work.

Currently, we have a problem that may not have been a problem had anyone done a most difficult thing; try to question their own rationalizations. Thus, those good intentions that everyone so eagerly believed brought on their own form of “good intentions.” Harsher laws, increased police presence, and a war on drugs in sketchy neighborhoods led to the, “At least it’s not my kid” mentality and now here we are.

Good intentions often pave a road towards adult societies desire to stop worrying. Few question those roads because, well, who doesn’t want to be free from worry? Isn’t that universal.

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Slow Dive

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Time moves quickly, and life is all-consuming. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that. Today I was reminded of this fact because on my way to the mall, my subconscious took over and I started heading toward work.

Chaotic times move at breakneck speeds and it’s easy to forget your surroundings, your self, and everything else. Often I wonder if this chaos is just the American norm given how much the average person has on their plate, or if it’s modern societies all over the world. On one hand, busy is good, on the other, being relaxed and focused is better.

It used to be easy to romanticize busyness and hard-work, but then people around you start dying for no good reason and it puts a damper on that mentality. Not that they are dying because of the busyness or hard-work, but their lack of knowledge that death was on its way didn’t cause them to slow down. Did they ever really pause their busy lives and look around? Maybe things would have been different if they did?

When you consider the reactions to those deaths it brings up good questions. How much time do we actually have to be sad, or to empathize? Not much; at least that’s what it seems like.

Perhaps, it’s best to be careful what we revolve our lives around. Obsession has a cruel way of delivering greatness at the cost of vanishing the world around us or destroying things we hold sacred. Family, work, money, nice houses, nice cars; there’s only so much that can be done in one life.

It Just Is

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One of the aspects I enjoy about writing is that it sort of, kind of, just is. When you, me, and anyone else who wants to write actually does write, it ends up unique. Even after I edit this post, I can’t stop it from sounding like me. Great author, amateur blogger, shitty writer; it doesn’t matter. We all have that same experience.

During undergrad, in a four-year stint at an unspecified state school, I took an introductory fiction writing class. On the first day, the class of twenty-something people was instructed to use the first fifteen minutes to write something. Almost everyone had a car accident as the main conflict of their piece. I and two other people avoided car accidents.

This is not to say we were better, more experienced or more well-educated writers. It was more to do with fear. Those other classmates were afraid and too preoccupied with figuring out how to force their brain into writing something logical and clean. For at least two us, our reactions towards being asked to write something were calm and even borderline apathetic. Hence, no car accidents.

Were our stories going to be clean, finished, and presentable to the class? Maybe, maybe not. Writing is like standing in front of a car as it’s barrelling toward you, and staring at the headlights. You either accept your fate, or you panic put a dumb look on your face, and regret what you didn’t do. With that being said, I’ve always felt that you can’t escape your own writing.

Whether it’s edited or unedited, you will always end up putting yourself in your writing. Writing kind of, sort of, just is. If facing your death is too dramatic an analogy, then writing is, at the least, much like getting caught in the buff by your friends. In either situation, you are forced to confront your own fragile nature. Though, maybe getting caught with your pants down isn’t as bad as death. Maybe.

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?

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.