I’m in a pub, located somewhere near Times Square. “Let me blow your mind” by Eve and Gwen Stefani plays overhead. I’m drunk and short of breath. Drunk Shakespeare happens at 10am. I just received a scotch on the rocks. My chest is tight. I think of high school, of J. I have a miniature bouquet of carnation flowers on the table before me. Memories.
Month: September 2019
Dark Room Analogy
I pretend not to teach, but to inquire; and therefore cannot but confess here again,–that external and internal sensation are the only passages I can find of knowledge to the understanding. These alone, as far as I can discover, are the windows by which light is let into this DARK ROOM. For, methinks, the understanding is not much unlike a closet wholly shut from light, with only some little openings left, to let in external visible resemblances, or ideas of things without: which, would they but stay there, and lie so orderly as to be found upon occasion, it would very much resemble the understanding of a man, in reference to all objects of sight, and the ideas of them.
What is Hard Work?
Read this article and it inspired some thoughts.
When I say “I worked hard” for this or that, I’m implying additional sacrifices that similar peers don’t make, won’t make, or can’t make.
Doesn’t mean that I am smarter or that the hard work paid off/was warranted, or that hard work leaves me entitled to something. It simply indicates sacrifices above and beyond the typical expectations.
But typically, hard work, going above and beyond, sacrificing what you value most, namely time… time to do or invest in other things that may be pleasurable… yields rewards. Albeit not always tangible. These rewards are less about what you get and more about what you become in the process of sacrificing.
I worked hard in college. What did that mean? I sacrificed a lot of time toward my education and leadership or academic extracurriculars or my part time jobs. I didn’t party as much. I didn’t have down time. Full course loads. Packed scheduled between and after classes. To achieve goals.
There are people who spent less time studying than I in college, and they got better grades. But I didn’t work hard in grades 1-12 compared to my peers, and the hard work they put in allowed than to be more efficient and productive in college. While my peers were studying for the AP’s, I was partying. Their hard work and sacrifice paid off. Now I had to make the sacrifice.
Some people work hard to get to a certain level, then never put the same level of hard work in again. They coast. Maybe because they don’t feel the external pressure anymore, not from parents or school, and they want enjoy life. That’s good.
Sure hard work is relative when you think of time spent working. Who can say whether two people are working “harder” than the other. By what measure? Output? Depending on the job, this is a difficult thing to measure.
But sacrifice is pretty straightforward. There are only so many hours in a day. The greater portion of them you spend to achieve your ultimate aims is a function of hard work.
Hard work is sacrifice. It’s a function of time, but also intensity, which is a function of focus, which requires emotional investment. This is devotion.
I believe that life is reaping and sowing.
Farmers must obey the seasons. They sow in the spring, cultivate in the summer, reap in the fall, then save their harvest through the winter and prepare for spring.
There are lots of proverbs about farmers who have equal plots of land, but get different yields.
Some farmers are conscientious, some are not. Some are tedious in their preparation and planning, some are not. Some don’t care and tend to their crop until they reap, others inspect and prune and eradicate weeds and insects and nurture their crop.
I feel like hard work is character.
Its not about what you get, it’s about what you give. You don’t work hard for a reward. You work hard because that’s who you are. Because that’s the habits you’ve conditioned into yourself to embody, so when any challenge is presented, your default is to solve it with the same tenacity and diligence and conscientiousness that you have always done. This makes you dependable, and valuable.
Whether this is enough for the world is another matter. Whether your hard work manifests into tangible rewards like money or status or power is another matter.
But I believe hard work is pretty straight forward.
Do you make the sacrifices? Do you go above and beyond expectations to solve a problem, to accomplish the task? Do you persist until it’s completed?
Some tasks are more important than others.
My colleagues have families. They work hard and make sacrifices being family men, and they can’t devote the same to their job. A single bachelor is able to work harder as a result, assuming work is their highest value.
I don’t think saying you worked hard implies a level of entitlement.
“I think the issue is that when people say they’ve “worked hard,” they’re implicitly suggesting superiority. I’m deserving of reward, not like those people who are lazy (“those” people being immigrants, poor people, liberal arts majors, whoever it is you seek to contrast yourself against).”
I think any well adjusted person would agree that in life, we don’t deserve anything. Literally.
Life’s not fair.
Life is hard.
Whether you work hard, make sacrifices, or go through the motions, and indulge whenever you can.
The difference is, while time passes all the same, who you become as time passes is different.
I genuinely believe that hard work, sacrifice, persisting through struggle… is what creates character.
Character is most evident in hard times.
Character is not appreciated or obvious in easy times.
Character is resilience.
When things get hard, what do you do?
Buckle down, grind through, persist, stay disciplined?
Or do you try to find some way around. Or just stop all together. Find an “easier” way? Lie cheat steal?
Time passes the same for everyone.
But who we become while that time is passing depends on our willingness to work hard. Our willingness to make sacrifices. To go without.
I struggle to relate to the author of that article.
Hard work seems tied to a self-awareness which believes that personal responsibility can influence desired outcomes
Why work hard, make sacrifices, if outcomes were certain?
Certain because of privilege, or inferring the future will be like the past.
Certain because a belief that no matter what you do, you can’t chance fate.
Certain for whatever reason.
But when you take personal responsibility, and expand the sphere of influence to every conceivable facet to influence a desired outcome, you are incentivized to work hard, make sacrifices etc
This can actually turn into a complex topic.
Because what actions you take while you work may determine different levels of productivity.
You can work hard spinning like a hamster wheel, with minimal productivity.
So effort alone is not an indication of hard work.
Hard work also can be obligatory. Working two jobs to live semi-comfortably to support a family.
Or work one job and go to school and sacrifice some things for the short run for more opportunities in the long run.
Doing the minimum expectations isn’t hard work, necessarily.
You can be a farm hand. All farm hand work is manually laborious. I guarantee any farm has farm hands that work to different levels. Some are considered hard working, some are not.
Is it just to get a job done? Is it do get a job done that exceeds expectations? Once? Time and time again?
For white collar jobs things seem different.
Some people seem to not have to invest as much emotionally into work and still achieve higher productivity. They may spend more or less hours. But the work they do is excellent, complete, professional, i’s dotted t’s crossed. Impeccable.
Some people have to invest a lot emotionally to achieve productivity. They are emotionally involved with their work, and it drains them. They can’t separate. They pour themselves into it, and maybe overtime, to achieve a similar result
I still think that perfect practice, the hard work and sacrifice of pursing excellence at your craft, provides compounding returns to your skill and productivity over time.
This goes for musicians, athletes, artists, sales people, technologists and programmers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, everyone.
Hard work is an investment. That’s how I see it. I feel like their is an emotional element to it.
Everything is hard before it becomes easy.
I think of the biographies of great thinkers and doers.
There is a hallmark to their work.
A devotion that never sleeps.
A devotion to their craft, to pursuing excellence, to refining their methods.
Focus is critical for hard work. And without an emotional investment, I’m not sure this is possible.
Spending time on an activity alone is not hard work.
But it’s usually a requisite
Or a symptom of that emotional investment
Stare at this long enough, and perceptions adapt, causing distinctions to disappear.
Relevant analogy for any habituated perception.
Does biological evolution flourish in high entropy environments?
I think of anti-fragile. Tangentially, Lindy’s law.
I think it does, within reason.
I was thinking that high entropy environments, ironically, are most conducive to life
Within reason, of course.
High entropy as in high energy, high disorder.
Was thinking about how biologists determine where to locate the highest areas of biodiversity on a map. Like sloped areas, valleys on land or sea. Warm areas, with higher radiation and temperature. Areas with high water velocity. Humidity, to capture the heat. Anything that promotes disorder.
I’m sure there are other factors comprising high energy/entropy environments.
I was thinking of geologic landscapes. Areas of high entropy are like warm climates with high precipitation, where there is high water erosion, perhaps from elevated topologies/mountains, that then precipitate on the valleys below, which capture the high energy rain flow in streams and rivers and the particle/debris/ mineral nutrients along with it to enrich the soil and just create disorder from erosion and flooding and upheaval.
Or thermal vents located on the abysmal sea floor, and the abundance of creatures that proliferate at these high temperature chemical rich areas in an otherwise stable, cold environment.
Or the Cambrian explosion, which just so happened to be associated with the hottest global temperatures.
It’s like evolution thrives in disorder
Which is just interesting
Biodiversity appears greatest in high entropy areas. Just disordered
I get that like, super high temps would be lethal. And my idea of high entropy is just limited to what’s on earth. I’m sure Venus could be considered high entropy? Could it? Not a very hospitable place for life…. or is it? We don’t know. Not for life as we know it anyway.
I just think it’s interesting that on a genetic level, disorder, entropy, etc seems to promote fitness….
Equilibrium would seem to make sense… like safe and secure, predictable. But that’s not really what leads to strengthening. Perhaps it leads to a fixedness. But when the environment changes, the organisms eventually have struggling to adapt and die out. Like an inertia.
Or maybe not.
Perhaps life doesn’t die out, just the organisms who evolved to the equilibrium state and adopted a fixedness die, and the other simpler, less complex organisms eventually evolve to fill the new void.
What is Nationality?
Is nationality the same as identity?
Nationality could be just a way to index your place of birth.
It could also be a way to identify with a culture.
The United States is unique in that respect because of our short history, and because every citizen is the product of immigration.
The melding and accepting of cultures is an uniquely American ideal. Perhaps this cosmopolitan ethos has expanded to other counties with the increase in globalization.
Nations were once very monocultural, and that was a “good” thing, which reinforced the nationalistic identity assumed as citizens.
But technology has bridged cultural gaps in terms of knowledge access and transfer and exposure, via the proliferation of media and information, and the ease of travel.
Europe, once taking great pride in its monocultural institutions, has many countries that are nearly as diverse as America.
This cultural pluralism is hotly debated. Is this diversity a good thing? Or is it a bad thing? When is it good and when is it bad?
I feel that diversity is a good thing when people reach across the aisle and seek to understand others, and minorities do their best to assimilate into the prevailing institutions, bringing with them their unique cultural values as contributions to expanding thought and perspective and ideas of legacy institutions.
It’s bad when there is no assimilation, when the majority is no longer tolerant, or the minority holds too tight to their culture, and refuses to adapt.
I’m an American. I speak “American” (English yes, but clearly a different accent, and often a different dialect depending on the demographic I’ve been socialized by).
Do I identify with American values? It’d be difficult to deny this. They are generic enough. Freedom and liberty? Sure.
I’m not the most patriotic person.
I’m mostly aware of my nationality when I travel, and I’m exposed to traditions and values and social etiquette that’s hidden in the folds of society when your submersed there.
Attitudes toward education, elders, women, technology, work, eating, health, vacation, etc, etc.
Culture is a hidden force that’s only revealed by exposure to radically different ways of living.
A force in the sense that it has shaped and molded our character and constitution in ways completely hidden to us without a contrast to compare to.
I know many who have never left the town they were born in. What does culture mean to them? “I am the way I am and I can’t be any other way!” And they you travel, and the world opens up and exposes these “other ways” of being. And possibility can finally bloom. Or the fear and discomfort of this “difference” causes a retreat back into the familiar, and a disdain for the “other”.
I find books produce the same effect.
Beliefs and assumptions and values are imbued throughout our psychological development which eventually become a more and more rigid identity that become more and more inescapable the longer we refuse to explore alternative ways of living and thinking.
The brain is plastic, so anyone can change. But it requires a more radical force to create this change if mind, because habits of being are so deeply engrained.
No one can escape the process of enculturation. But we can become aware of it, and choose our influences more wisely.
But individuals and groups behave very differently.
Mass psychology has a mind of its own, and often individuals would reject the mass psychology they see as detrimental in others, though they themselves participate in it.
I see the Christian disdain for Islam, and find it fascinating that more parallels aren’t drawn between the two. Gross generalizations projected onto the other, completely blind that they are active participants in the same mass psychology by a different name.
I like the Socratic attitude of being a “citizen of the world”.
That should be the response.
There are universal values which encourage the flourishing of humanity that no nation can claim as their own.
We should identify as citizens of the world. Humanity is one. Differences are a matter of perception, and dialog typically resolves those differences with understanding.
Culture is a by product of the collective struggle of the group to make survival meaningful. We struggle to solve problems as a group, and the activities produced by that struggle become our culture. And these struggles are not only engineering or political feats. They include relationships, labor, creating beauty through art, adapting to the climate, etc.
But the struggle is universal.
Neoclassical Economics and Marxism
Ironically, many people who have reject Marxism out right have not read it.
I found Das Kapital one of the more illuminating books I’ve read from a sociological point of view.
When I was studying economics, I quickly realized there were some major flaws in the neoclassical methods we were being taught, most of which he pointed out in this Ted Talk.
My favorite class was the History of Economic Theory and Methods. It was the only class that exposed me to ideas other than neoclassical economic theory. I found this appalling. Many go throughout college and learn this prevailing neoclassical economic theory and its methods and have zero clue that other theories exist, that other philosophies exist. They might get a footnote about the Austrian school of libertarianism. But mostly your indoctrinated to believe that neoclassical economics is truth.
Considering how poorly it mapped onto my understanding of a stochastic world, and humans which are entirely irrational, and having learned about sociological theories which explain the role of institutions in imbuing humans with values which drive behaviors and purpose, I felt strongly there were more productive ways of conceptualizing an economic system. And when I took that history of economics class, I found plenty of them.
Marx had profound ideas that weren’t all that original, but were uniquely synthesized. He took many observations from Hegel and Ricardo and others and applied them to them to how the individual engages in economy. Marx was a phenomenal sociologist. Perhaps not a great economist. Alfred Marshall did a phenomenal job outlining economic forces and formalizing them, but sociology and psychology were still undeveloped subjects of study.
What caught my eye most was institutional economics, pioneered by Thorstein Veblen, which examined the evolutionary forces that shaped economic behaviors. Behavioral economics is an outgrowth of institutional economics, which has gained more widespread attention, because it accommodates irrational agents. But I’ve yet to see a comprehensive economic system that appreciates the sociological forces that account for economic behavior.
The reason why neoclassical economics took off is because of monetary policy. By operating under the neoclassical framework which can mathematize economics and human behavior, capitalists can push and pull levers to greatly impact economic outcomes. Unfortunately, as we have seen from stagnating wages, increased debt, and speculative investing, and this has not elevated the public good and the labor it represents, but has profited only those with the access to capital, which benefit from this financial manipulation, if they know how to navigate the game. The current economic system is a scheme that is showing its cracks. In the short run it can make predictions, but in the long run it falls apart. And we’re seeing it fall apart. It has no basis other than to serve capitalists with the time and money to invest speculatively. And the economic growth they point at the justify these measures has benefited only a few. Per capita consumption has increased along with debt, and wealth has decreased.
I’m fascinated by mysticism. Like him, I believe exploring the irrational realms is necessary for understanding. In a way, these realms illuminate areas of ignorance, which can be turned into rational inquiry. Reason and logic is not good or bad. It’s an instrument, a tool. Values determine the intention of how these tools are applied. I have an aversion to those who push back on reason and science, the same way I push back on those who proclaim religion and god’s divine inspiration is all man needs to survive. Perhaps. Many people get along fine with religion and their private spirituality. But exploring the world has lead to more understanding of the universe and our place in the universe than religion has ever done. And religion and spirituality will never be replaced by science and reason. Religion creates communities, and spirituality creates unity, both of which orient humanity to higher values, both necessary for humanities survival. But values without reason is like fire without an engine. It’s powerful and illuminating, but can be dangerous when reason isn’t there to anchor the heart to the mind, which provides vision of consequences. I don’t think being uneducated is a virtue. On the contrary. I think being educated is one of the highest virtues. But education isn’t formal. It’s not an end. It’s a continual process of action and reflection, and refining, so to continually align values with reason and experience, to create soundness and coherence and resonance with the inner and outer. Self-education is the highest spiritual journey. Accumulating understanding is not just remembering, it’s also the process of forgetting. But relying entirely upon yourself is also risky, because of our natural propensity to self deceive, by taking our singular experience as the only experience of value. Gathering with other minds, from conversation and reading, and becoming educated on the various perspectives of others, greatly enhances our ability to understand.
I feel inadequate most of the time, ignorant, naive. So I read. I explore texts, converse with the authors, play with their ideas, delve into pages which become my forest of refuge, and make my home under the constellation of ideas that illuminate my interior. I feel lost. Like a wanderer in the desert. Books are my oasis. I wake, I turn, and I see my books around me. I grab one from the night before, and begin my day reading. G tosses and turns next to me. The sun drips into my room. I rise. I work. I make dinner. I get ready for bed, and open my books again. Ideas pour into me, and out of my imagination. Associations compound. I mark and highlight and notate. I look up words and references, check the citations, and buy more books.
Life is dark, and books are light. But an endless receding light. No amount of reading gets me closer to the illuminating portal I gaze after. Diffuse hazy ambient light slowly transforms into a concentrated beam which fixes my attention, which gets smaller but brighter all the time.
When my mind isn’t engaged with people and tasks, it reflects on these ideas. Ever constructing coherence to this mind which frames experience, which accommodates the pregnant possibility every moment I gaze into the world, at the world, onto the world. Books augment this frame of mind, provide ornamental structure and scaffolding to hang my perceptions upon, to yield beauty and depth to the ordinary all around me. There is an infinite abyss which gazes back at me when I stare into the world. Endless constructions that appear and transmorph from moment to moment which leave me speechless, until some “other” demands my attention, and a crystallized response takes me away.
Books contain worlds which my curiosity and wonder can’t help but explore. Repetition. Reading and absorbing ideas, impressing them deep into my soul, where they meld and mix and generate novel perspective I can call my own. I feel forever ignorant. Learning it all, consuming the knowledge, and not just reading it, but living it, gathering the primary experience which the authors report on, feels like drinking the ocean. How can I make it all stick in some impressionable way? How can I take all that I read, all that I experience, and build something useful with it? How do I shape my character and constitution in a way that gets me closer to my highest values? Reading. There are so many books, so little time. Travel. People. Work. How to do it all? How to prioritize? Reading still leaves me feeling the most ignorant, and the most empowered. I wish I could talk about everything I read, or have read. Not just popular books, but the the classic pioneers of thought who laid the foundations that humanity benefits from, but so few know it. So few know of the ocean beneath their feet. The world’s which exist under every utterance, the history and people that built these structures we all benefit from, composed entirely of ideas.
If I had one wish, it would be to read and converse and write and build upon these ideas.
But for now, and maybe forever, I am a hobbyist, an amateur, a dilettante. But I enjoy it nonetheless.
Social Media Digital Personality Avatars
A macabre part of me wishes Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn and all these social media personality platforms imploded and self destructed.
Imagine all these digital personalities, these faux avatars that people parade, completely disappearing overnight.
What would be left?
There’s a lot of good these platforms do. Lots of great information and knowledge that’s disseminated. Lots of quality goods and services that get exposure.
But there’s also a ton of bullshit. People making millions from exploiting boredom. Exploiting fantasy.
They do funny things. Pranks. Or post travel pictures. Or their cars or houses or savvy work life. Inspirational quotes. Or record their musings. Insert a product placement here or there, for some company or their own.
I just imagine…. what would happen if it all just… disappeared. What would these people do? Their lives revolve around curating and cultivating a digital avatar. It exists night and day. Static images or recordings trapped in this ether-net. Always present.
I guess it’s a permanent part of humanity now.
I’m mostly curious what would happen if the ability to self-promote en masse was suddenly taken from people.
What would they do?
I guess it’s no use wondering.
I just wonder.
I saw a post from a wealthy self made real estate developer:
Left The Bahamas, caught a flight in Florida, and made my way back to BVI.
I’ve been traveling a majority of the days in the past 2 months. It’s been crazy and stressful but also each trip has taught me something new about myself, how to run my business, and have given me new ideas to scale my impact.
If I were to give in to my stress by staying in Nashville and running my businesses from there, I wouldn’t even come close to creating the change I want to see in the world within my lifetime. I’ve got one chance and this life and I refuse to settle for mediocrity because that’s what is “comfortable”.
Your higher self is in direct opposition to your comfort zone.
What are you stuck being comfortable with? Change that.”
There’s a picture of her on a mountain overlooking an aquamarine ocean.
I thought to myself:
if a tree falls and there’s no one there to hear it, did it make a sound?
If you do something important with your life and there’s no one there to validate you, does it matter?
The power of social media to validate and self-reinforce these ambition tropes is a strong force.
It’s not necessarily bad or good.
But I really wonder.
If the ability to self-promote your carefully curated digital avatar was stripped from you, who would you really be?
What would happen to all these personalities? Would they have an existential crisis?
We have a growing portion of society whose identity is directly tied to the validation of the masses.
What problems does this create?
What happens to these personalities when their fabricated digital identity is suddenly voided? And they are left with themselves, no mass validation? Just the small circle of relationships that typically accompany a person’s life. Are they in good company? Are they good with themselves?
This social media personality avatar phenomenon is only fifteen years old or so. Yes, there have been entertainers forever. But it’s different nowadays. People compete for seconds of the public’s attention. A few seconds of stimulation that someone reacts to, and you have a follower. Your utility as a digital avatar is to produce seconds of stimulation while they scroll through their feed. This is the value you bring to the world. Your online identity is validated by those who endorse your abbreviated ability to stimulate for moments, every day.
It’s all very curious.
Is there a lifespan to this economy? Will society grow tired of it in 15 years, and revert back to more traditional forms of community for validation? What happens then?
Ig, nor ance
“The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it”
My girlfriend asked me to educate her today. She’s a professional ballet dancer, and committed full time to dance at 15, opting out of academia and going aboard to a ballet school in NYC to pursue a career in ballet.
I asked her where we should start. She said history. I thought this was an excellent place, but then my mind began to wander its way back in time, back to the beginning of history, to first origins. I then realized that the proper way to educate someone on history, might begin in this manner.
1. Philosophy — moreover, the philosophical methods of critical thinking, of asking questions, of challenging assumptions. The essence of dialog, two words, two minds reasoning in concentration to make sense of it all: the beginning of education.
2. Mathematics — the most fundamental process of abstract analytical and perspicacious reasoning, essential for understanding the relations of any and every abstract concept or idea.
3. Physics — How matter came to be, from quantum to classical to relativity to astrophysics which combines them all.
4. Geology — how planets and earth formed and evolved
5. Biology — how life came to be, and evolved.
6. Anthropology — what makes humans, human
7. Sociology — how groups of humans behave
8. Psychology — how the mind of humans develops and operates, as a result of the previous collection of events.
9. History — how humanity makes sense of the past.
10. Spirituality — how the human mind makes sense of the ineffable
I suppose these are all abstract studies which serve to illustrate a comprehensive worldview. They’re not as linear as I would like, but they do provide foundational stepping stones to more composite topics of learning.
To apply this knowledge for creative purposes would require another line of successive steps in education, such as engineering, technology, science, arts, design, and the like.
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Just about finished the book Range by David Epstein
Highly recommend you read as humans— as scientists, as athletes, as businessmen and entrepreneurs, as musicians, as artists, as thinking problem solvers.
I’d make it the next book you read.
Took me about 10 hours to read, and I was filling the margins with notes.
Excellent research, anecdotes, clear writing, concise conclusions with profound implications.
This book aligns with my attitude toward voracious consumption of unrelated knowledge and understanding from disparate domains, which can then be abstracted into mental models and synthesized into robust systematic structural tools for rapid, effective problem solving.
The author is well read, and really does a great job illustrating what it means to be a generalist, and why learning slow, struggling, experimenting, and meandering your way through various domains and skills, ultimately produces the most creative minds tasked with solving novel, or as the author calls them, wicked problems.
Specialists are the best tacticians.
Generalists are the best strategists.
Specialists win the battle.
Generalists win the war.
Specialists excel when the rules are known.
Generalists excel when the rules are unknown.
Highly recommend. It’s just such an accessible read.
Intuitive, yet profound.
Boundaries are so important for a relationship.
I enjoy being a provider and having someone depend on me, I just don’t like when the take it for granted, or forget that i have needs, needs I often neglect at their expense.
Sometimes asserting those boundaries can be jarring when they’re in a pattern of getting so much from you. I suppose it’s just remembering to proactively communicate, and not waiting til things build up to put the brakes on and suddenly need to regroup, which may feel like pulling away, or even pushing away, when it’s really about taking care of yourself.
G had several full blown melt downs this week
She got her period Friday, so that explains a lot
Never the less, her passive aggressive moodiness and overall demanding self was bothering me. It was all about her schedule, what she wanted, and when I pushed back she’d throw a tantrum, so I usually just go along to avoid conflict. It built over two days, and she noticed I wasn’t feeling so open to her, so she asked what’s wrong and I pretty much told her she was being self absorbed and mean, and she did not like that. Oh no. It triggered her. She impulsively said a lot of mean things. Then she was silent for a good hour as we finished grocery shopping and drove home. I didn’t say much, just asked if she wanted to talk, and she said she was processing. When we got home I sat at the kitchen table and asked if she wanted to talk. For the next hour plus she just laid into me…. I just listened. Didn’t say a word. Very mean. How selfish I was. But she kept contradicting herself, cause her complaints were ridiculously juxtaposed by all the things she knows I do for her.
My natural reaction was to defend myself, but I decided to just listen. Not take it personally. I know I love her and care for her and do so much for her. I listened as her anger and seething and biting words eventually turned to confusion and eventually she just began sobbing. I didn’t say anything. I just listened, then hugged her, against her will initially, as she tried pushing away, but I just kept holding her. She sobbed. Just pent up emotions streaming out. I just listened and held her and told her I loved her. Didn’t react. Didn’t defend myself. Said I was sorry. Eventually the sobbing and tears slowed and stopped. And she was better again.
I could easily hold everything she said against me. It was hurtful. But I realize it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t represent what she really feels for me. These issues are mostly just some unresolved father figure projections that I must overcome with love. I know she loves me. I know we all have issues. I can be cold and insensitive and stern. Even worse, I can be inattentive. I can only listen and validate her feelings and show her love, despite how she lashes out, despite the unstable emotional outbursts or moodiness that comes my way.
I felt like it was a growing experience for me. Being stoic, but compassionate. Not getting caught up in the words, but trying to see the feelings. She needs love and acceptance, attention and validation and security. All women need that more than they need you doing trivial activities and chores for them.
So anyway. Was a wild week, but I felt like I handled it my best.
“No matter what happens, I’ll love you. You can’t push me away. I’m here.” I think that implicit message created a lot of peace for her. There is more vulnerability. More acceptance of me on her part.
I think the theme I try to convey is, even if you don’t get your way, I love you. Even if I need to take care of me, and be selfish, the big picture is i do take care of you and I do love you. But I can’t make you happy by jumping through hoops or obeying every demand. And when I don’t do those things, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It means I’m human and I have my boundaries and sometimes you just aren’t going to get your way. But it doesn’t mean I don’t love you or care. And you can’t get hung up on a handful of instances where you don’t get your way, where you think I’m selfish. You gotta see the big picture here.
Anywho. She’s a handful.
She knows it. But when she’s in it, hostage to her feelings, it’s all consuming, and it’s hard to get perspective, and see the big picture.
But yeah, the conflict. It’s like, I want to be strong and loving by not making a big deal out of favors, or their tax on me. But if I don’t point out the tax they have on me, she doesn’t see how much I put into it.
Like, you know if you didn’t expect so much, you’d get much more.
One of my favorite Camus quotes:
When I was young I asked more of people than they could give: everlasting friendship, endless feeling.
Now I know to ask less of them than they can give: a straightforward companionship. And their feelings, their friendship, their generous actions seem in my eyes to be wholly miraculous: a consequence of grace alone.
Her requests require me to drop everything. Massages. Carrying things. Talking through decisions and helping her figure out endless problems or dilemmas.
And I don’t mind. I genuinely love helping. I love caring for her.
I just need appreciation… I don’t like when it’s just expected that I’m available to please or serve or act on her every whim or demand.
Suspend expectations, I tell her. And everything will see like a blessing.
It’s such a powerful reminder in all relationships… and it makes you so much more grateful and blessed. Expectations are the root of suffering.
I tell her, I don’t like when you expect your problems to be my problems.
I want to help. I love you. But when you just expect me to solve every one of your problems, it’s an endless road nowhere
I’m not responsible for your happiness. And you’re not responsible for mine.
I’m just a person.
You are responsible for your happiness. You choose your problems, or you choose not to have problems.
We have these conversations about “problems”. Cognitively she knows problems are in her head, but emotionally she can’t seem to let go of the frustrations that arise when she perceives a problem.
I tell her, if you look for problems, you will find them, and amplify them.
Life is a problem. It’s difficult. For everyone. Get over it. It comes with the territory. You can’t escape it.
So let’s move past problems. Let’s move toward solutions, solutions that you can do something about, where YOU are empowered.
You can spend your time thinking about anything. Time passes all the same. When you’re stuck, or run into an obstacle, acknowledge the problem, them focus on the solution, and never pay the problem any more thought.
I explained wherever the attention goes, the energy flows.
And how, when you’re about to get into an accident and hit something oncoming, whether by car or motorcycle, you look to the empty space where you can go, not at the thing your about to hit. If you focus on the thing your about to hit, you’ll hit it, no matter what you tell your body to do. Look toward the empty space where there are no obstacles, where you can move freely, the solution, and you will find yourself there, problem averted.
I was trying to think of something simple I could tell her that would help her overall attitude.
After some reflection, I realized I could distill so much into a simple idea:
When you focus on getting other people what they want, you’ll get what you want.
Find ways to give people what they want, and you’ll get what you want.
Never focus on what you want to get. Focus on giving others what they want.
That’s pretty much true for any personal or professional or life situation.
We can’t do it alone. The more you give, the more you get. But the focus should never be on getting. Always giving.
Then I explained the whole abundance vs scarcity mentality. You can only give what you believe you have: time, money, energy, attention, love, affection.
If you think you lack these, you won’t be able to give these freely. It’s a mindset.
You can’t give if you think you’re scarce, or have limited energy or feelings or time to give others.
The ultimate realization is, you have it all within you, infinite amounts. Spread it around generously, and it will find its way back to you. Focus on giving, and your life will improve whether it’s important to you or not.
It’s just the mentality that’s important, which allows you to serve others and go above and beyond and not worry about what it’s “costing” you.
When you bring value to others lives, you’re life will become more rewarding.