2.201: Reflections on a Thursday Post

In the intermingled world of personal expression and fame hunting the blog/vlog is king. My children have fallen prey to the meme-driven world of Youtubers trying to express themselves through daily posts. Two of the Talisleggers have formed their own channel. There is no talislegger channel, though the thought has crossed my mind. I let it die midstream, because my immediate thoughts went not to what I would say but how I would brand it. So that left me asking myself the question of why do I post?

The 10 minute rule is highly self reflective. It is catharsis and discipline and, well, an excuse to have to write. I only failed at this during one short period in the last 5 years. It forces me to be a constant writer, if only for 10 minutes at a time. This is my purpose. Now for a channel the purpose would be shameless self promotion–an ego-driven desire to be noticed and eventually compensated. This appears to be the purpose for most of these blogs. Even my boys are in it to get noticed, get likes and follows, and eventually sell merchandise for profit. This feels very much like the misguided push of a capitalist culture.

I think there is a value to finding profit in what you love. I also think that once you are driven or beholden to profit, it changes your relationship with what you are doing. I don’t want to do the rule for profit. There’s a place and space for recognition and this really isn’t it. Follow, if you like, but I don’t intend to shape this thing to grow followers.

2.200: Hanging in There

There’s a phenomenon in soccer where when a team is up they shift the game to a form of keep away. The goal is not to score but to prevent the other team from having any opportunity to score. In other words, they aren’t striving to increase any form of lead, dominance, or assertion. They’re settling in. They are just hanging on to the lead. Yesterday I was at a wrestling meet watching my kids struggle through their matches. The eldest was winning for a bit and then wound up just trying to hang on and not get beat. My other wrestler took an early and commanding lead and just sort of settled in and tried to hold on to the kid until time ran out. Moments later I witnessed an exchange between two dads who were watching the event. One asked the other how he was doing and the other replied, “you know, just hanging in there.” His friend agreed that this is what he was doing as well. All of this settled in on me like acid, burning through the thick coat of complacency that is suburban life. This morning I finally recognized I do not like my life.

Not any of it.

For a while I’ve been comparing my life to the Todash darkness of Stephen King lore. Everything feels just slightly askew as if I could settle into this form of living and be perfectly complacent, but everything would be just perfectly wrong. I woke up thinking that this isn’t an entirely new feeling. In truth everything has always been wrong, and I’ve settled into this wrongness the way a frog supposedly settles into a heating kettle, never knowing it is being murdered until it is already dead. Well, I’m not dead yet, but I recognize more and more who the murderer is.

Me. Society. The expectations of suburban life. Dramaturgy. Call it a group killing–The Following writ large and true. So, now what? I can’t answer that yet, but my eyes are open. I’m done with the sleepy-eyed beckoning of ‘just hanging in there’ for that is no way to live a life. That, at least, is a strong first step.

2.199

Picture this: Donald Trump is running the country. As a result the people around him begin to recognize how to coddle the man and fall into the fallacy of Yes, Yes, Yes! As a result they begin to punish and seek vengeance against those who threaten the presidential narrative. Now I’m sitting in my living room, watching Drunk History, and thinking that this is legitimately the way we will tell the story of the next 3-8 years. Except we won’t be drunk.

I wish we were drunk now. All of us. Maybe it would make a sort of drunk sense that the world is the way it is at the present time. Unfortunately, I’m stone cold sober and so are so many of us. We hear the president is in perfect mental health and think, “Shit, he’s doing this sane??”

I’m not going to get drunk–at least not in the dip my head in the sand or go along with this nonsense sense. I’m going to ‘stay woke’ as the kids say and continue to educate students in the fine art of separating fiction from reality. I’m not just talking about fake news. I’m talking about fake narratives and cultivating the ability to make sense of connections, patterns, relationships, and the like. That is what the modern person needs. I can help them with that.

2.198. How to UnF**k Yourself and other Todayisms

I’m listening to Tony Robbins the way a person downs an energy drink to make it through that last hour of League of Legends late night play. I need the boost. I’ve been down on me for a while and that is not healthy. Of course the thing about being down is that you reinforce that feeling with that feeling. It quickly develops into quicksand and you find yourself flailing in your own despair and unworthiness. At this moment in my life I don’t have the time to stop it on my own. I can’t pull out a domino ahead of the tumbling line and insure this goes no further. I can’t plow my own psychological fire line. So, I called for backup.

First things first: It is always okay to ask for help. being strong means being able to recognize when you need help. I’ve had a hard road to learning that. This isn’t the Thich Nhat Hanh teaching. This isn’t about seeing within myself. No, that is a different kind of leaning. This is about needing straight up fire. Now that I have that recognition and that strength, I find that I turn to motivational speakers and researchers when I’m in need of such fire. I go to Daniel Pink, to Tony Robbins, even to Kevin Hart. This time I’m looking at Gary John Bishop. I’ll publish his tenets below. That’s really all I have time left to do…

 

In Unf*ck Yourself, Bishop leads you through a series of seven assertions:

  • I am willing
  • I am wired to win
  • I got this
  • I embrace the uncertainty
  • I am not my thoughts; I am what I do
  • I am relentless
  • I expect nothing and accept everything

Lead the life you were meant to have – Unf*ck Yourself.

©2016 Gary John Bishop (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

2.197. TV as Social Influencer

Right now there are three Special Forces styled shows on TV. Two are purely military based and the third is SWAT. I’ve yet to watch SWAT but the other two are drastically different. One is focused on the lead up to and the action going through a military operation. The other focuses on the interplay of politically publicized operations, putting them in the fictional world and engaging in a sort of dialogue. Seal Team is more political. It comes from CBS, the channel that brought us Madam Secretary. It lives in the same vein if not the same universe. While it is action driven it is heavily primed on the front end with military language, drills, and stories of Navy Wives. The other show, The Brave, is about the pride of the military and the interpersonal relationships between soldiers and their handlers. For this reason you know all the members of the team and have been ‘read in’ on their backstories. Meanwhile on Seal Team I only know four of the eight members of the team–not including the support staff.

This is not conclusory. This is merely observation on a pair of shows I find interesting in the sense that they are both on air now and placed in prime spots at a time where those spots are about super heroes. I suppose we are making these guys into new versions of superheroes. Or just very old ones revisited.

2.196.

There are days–entire weeks even-when I think, “bring on the zombies!” If I listen hard enough I can hear humanity falling apart. Maybe I’m wrong. We have experienced a dozen worst decades than this. Still, on the front end of a decade of darkness there is little to point to that is light and hopeful. We don’t have a leadership structure that points towards hope–anywhere.

This is what I’ve noticed over the past few years. At the tail end of the Obama presidency I noticed a shift in leadership both in the political and private sectors. We’ve shifted back to pessimism, down for self ideology, and a heightened desire to take what you can grab as quickly as you can. This is not going away and it will likely get worse, because leadership at all levels and sectors is not at all altruistic.

There is an importance in altruistic leadership. We need people who generally want to make things better and not just want to make things better for themselves or are simply in it for the prestige or money or to check out the role. Still, those are the folks in charge everywhere and after a while it is going to really show.

 

Some Thoughts:

  1. My death clock date is November 16, 2026. 9 years. That sucks. Of course, a different measure suggests I have longer. I’m going to go with: I need to get my health straight.

2.195. On the Oversexualization of Everything

McKayla Maroney Is Completely Unrecognizable Today” This is just one of a dozen headlines stapled to the bottom of every article I read on news sites. I found this particular one on nfl.com and accidentally clicked on it while trying to copy the link to this blog. The page led me pretty much where I expected. It wasn’t the popular aggregator zerg.net, which is responsible for a plethora of links regarding speculation around franchise films and video games. This is kiwiReport, new to me, and all about showing pics of young girls who grew up hot. I hate saying it, but I am thankful every day I was born a man. The level of scrutiny and sexualization placed on women–especially in our country–is so beyond sane that it feels impossible for women to keep up. I remember the hoopla when the Olsen twins, first featured as babies on Full House, turned 18. Suddenly every male in America was supposed to swell at their presence. It’s gotten worse over the years. Recently a 19 yr old girl auctioned off her virginity to the tune of 3.9 million dollars. In business terms, that only happens if the product meets a very high or very specific market set. 

What we’ve done to the idea of sex is completely ridiculous. We have turned American women into an icon of sexuality in a way that is far less about being desirable than it is about being available and satisfying. We built a hype machine that has women trapped into a cycle of objectivity with no possible means of separation.

I am not a fan.

2.194. On Fear

I woke up this morning thinking about my favorite horror writers and how they are often inspired by the things that scare them. I believe I thought this because I had a terrible nightmare. I don’t remember what the nightmare was, but I know it felt real at the time and actually concluded before I woke up. I believe I lived. regardless, it made me want to do a short list of…

Things I’m Afraid Of:

  1. A foreign cat (or other animal) bursting through my doggie door. It happened once before at another house. A black cat tried to get in and it led to an epic cat fight between it and my previous cat. My cat won, but I still had to draw my sword–just in case. Yes, I have a sword. Several, in fact. I suppose I am that guy.
  2. Being attacked at night. I rarely sleep with the door open. The fear is that there is going to be someone in the house with me and I’ll see their shadow crest my bedroom (or stairwell) doorway before I actually see them. It is that moment of terror, when the shadow tells the coming of the enemy, that I fear more than anything else in that scenario.
  3. Falling asleep on the road. There is a particular stretch of highway that I drive which makes me sleepy every time I drive it. I believe the issue is psychological. The road is incredibly boring with few twists and turns. It would be so easy to just…
  4. Already having fallen asleep on the road and being dead now and living a dream before dying. Nobody knows what death is or has any idea about the perception of time prior to shutdown. It could be an eternity. It could be a loop–where we live our lived over and again trying to make different choices or stuck with the same ones, remembering more and more of the choices we made in previous iterations until life becomes groundhog day and you’re stuck living through the same pleasures and pains and never escaping and never having the chance to do more than just wait for it.
  5. Being alone. I love being alone, probably because it is a choice. But what if it wasn’t. What if nobody did love me or want to spend time with me or want to see me? Then it wouldn’t be a choice. It would be a cell.

2.193. Modern Times

Alexa keeps the time for my blog. She ticks through ten minutes quietly and at the end she hums a sweet lullaby to coax me away from the page. I used to write on pages. I used to read. I used to do a great number of things that formed the rituals of my youth. As I watch my young sprout into adulthood I find my rituals changing and theirs to be entirely foreign to me.

I built my first computer in my senior year of high school. We were a version of poor, so I couldn’t keep what I built. The school claimed the work and took it apart almost as fast as I built it, so the next kid who came along with empty pockets would also have a chance to learn. I did learn, and then I learned to never look back. I later built a string of computers in college, each more progressively powerful and conversely less complicated than the last. Desktop technology gave birth to laptop technology and I became hooked. Now I listen to more books in a month than I will read by eye in a year. I type almost everything, each iteration made simpler by the cut and paste technology so prevalent in our word processing platforms. I save things in the cloud. I collaborate on multiple screens. I blog.

I don’t journal. I struggle to maintain a physical calendar. 95 out of 100 meals I’ll prepare come out of a freezer bag. All of this is very different from how I was raised. All of this is, in some way, called progress. It is not my time to decide whether or not any or all of this is good. I am in a more reflective space about these things now. I’m considering how much of the old ways I really want to hold on to, how much of those ways can be integrated into the modern times, and how much of the old actually mattered in a lasting and fundamental way. Not all new is good and not all old is bad. Deciding the percentage breakdown is a highly personal endeavor.

2.192.

I don’t want to talk about stealing right now. Part of the beauty of this blog for me is the free wheeling nature of it. I can talk about real life one day, rant the next, follow that up with a writing lesson, and move right on to whatever. So long as I hit ten minutes, I’m good. Today (tonight) I want to talk about politics. In the midsts of all the speculation about whether or not Oprah should run for president, we are forgetting that the 4th estate is really not doing their job right now. They haven’t done their job for a long while, and this is largely a result of the shifting nature of news as it relates to capitalism. Spotlight is secondary to Sales. Beyond that (and perhaps more aptly a full part of it…) the tendency to cater to audience is out of control. Case and point: In the run up leading to the primaries, Donald Trump was a joke and Fox News made sure we knew that. Once he was the guy their audience had to vote for, he became a pillar of the American psyche. They literally changed the way the covered the man as well as what they had to say about the man in order to pander to their audience. To… give the people what they want.

On the other end of that oh so long spectrum, CNN is losing its collective mind over Oprah giving a great speech. NBC followed suit with a tweet basically naming her the next president. FOX went ballistic over that, pointing at media bias. Of course Pot, meet Kettle, but who really notices anymore.

I think that is the real tragedy here. We do not care to notice such things, and we are slowly becoming numbed to the moronic nature of our President and everything else we don’t care to confront.