We’ve all been baking in the sun for the last few weeks and now that it’s clouded over people seem a little SAD. Jared’s post on introvert pride got me thinking. In the first comment I linked to George Sodini‘s blog in a moment of black humor (it might be gone for good now — I should have mirrored it when I had the chance, it was obviously going to get nuked by the powers that be).
One of the things Sodini bitched about was being unable to create meaningful change in his own life. Now, if you’ve been to see a shrink that might be a familiar tune. The consesus among pscyh. practitioners seems to be that large personality changes are basically impossible and attempting them is what creates unhappiness.
I’m not totally sold on that because it seems like a linguistic explosive that they’re handing to people prone to use it dangerously — sick people in the shrink’s office have self-selected based on their belief that they can improve their lot. Telling them that change is impossible can lead the ill mind to think jumping off a roof is the only medical alternative. Besides, I’ve clearly learned some behaviors (eg, when to value bet the river, how to debug C++ code, when to run screaming from women) and cognitive behavioral therapy shows good clinical results.
But, anyway, yes: You’re paying someone to tell you that trying to be happy is what’s making you unhappy. Continuing…
Sodini carried a list in his pocket of reasons life wasn’t worth living. He dug deep into his past and far into his future and thought of everything he’d ever tried and failed, or procastinated away, everything he hated or just plain couldn’t do, and all the things he’d never have. He perfected a “woe unto humanity” viewpoint that ended in a shooting spree and endless articles assuring us that he was “just crazy” without looking at root causes.
The root cause, it seems to me, was Sodini’s preoccupation with “shoulds” and time, which is perfectly and disturbingly relatable. Discussing this with Ryley this morning we had an enlightening exchange:
Ryley: Basically all that “happiness in the now” thing… Apparently my parents successfully drilled that into me, and I hear that was one of the real goals of the hippy movement.
me: That’s good shit man. Whenever I have a case of the bad crazys that’s the only thing that helps: Realizing that all the shit in my head actually doesn’t exist. Time is an illusion, etc. Like, it’s irrational to worry about the past because it doesn’t exist anymore. Likewise the future.
Ryley: Huh. I don’t even begin to intellectualize it like that. My mind hates thinking about the past and future, so I don’t.
me: Hahahahah! Well said! I might quote that for truth.
So anyway, I spent lunch thinking of timeless things that make life fucking rule, a kind of anti-shitlist. Yours will differ, but here goes. The trick is to keep it to things that exist in the Now:
- Food (this one was easy, especially over lunch — the simple pleasures of the flesh).
- Poker (infinite depths, a kind of Zen Warrior aspect: Greetings, fellow being. Now prepare to die! Whoops, you got me!).
- Jerry Garcia (esp. playing his riffs in Rock Band — fiddly little rhythmic melodies, like curlecues in an autistic mandala).
- Bob Marley (because Redemption — all theology, really — is a nice sentiment).
- Hip Hop (because poetry is otherwise dead — thanks, free-verse — and my brain likes rhymes).
- Wes Anderson films (actually, any auteur — this is really the catchall “good art” line).
Yeah, all the SWPL stuff. I get it.
Anyway, Ryley just rode it on home with a minimal Ray Person quote from Generation Kill:
As the great warrior-poet Ice Cube once said, ‘If the day does not require an AK, it is good.’