This is a really good talk. But it’s also Jordan Peterson, so that’s no surprise.
He sat down at his computer desk. Resilient; braced by the cold. The deadly stars signaling down upon him a hope that science couldn’t understand. Hope couldn’t be calculated numerically. But what could be measured, in a way, deadened the beauty of the firmament. Beautiful mystery became cold, deadly reality. The curiosity of childhood became the death of adulthood. Rotting in the ground. What do the dead have to live for, really?
The cold awakens a man. I could never understand, for the life of me, why anyone would want to live in the arctic or anarctic. The cold, to me, meant school. Wee hours of the morning, shaken from a warm bed, and comforting sleep. To painful fingers, sharp breaths, and crotchetiness. Or snow, which just meant more painful fingers. (“Snowmen” were always an overrated disappointment). Cold was always the enemy.
And yet, not quite. There were always the moments, before the snow would fall, which produced a magical wonder that I still can’t explain. The falling of the leaves, the sharpness of the cold, awakened the sunshine within my heart. There was just something about the fall. Movies, set during the fall, produced this same enjoyment. The cold weather, and the dead leaves, woke me. I knew that more death was coming; more dead limbs, more grass consumed by the white coffin. But that made the dying all the more precious. Those moments, before death, were beautiful. There’s always a potential for profundity during dying. Tragic are those who don’t experience that during their final moments. I pray for enlightenment for all during their final moments…
Then, things came alive, and everyone was happy. I suppose I never really complained about it. But the feeling was not the same as in autumn. It was unexplainable. Perhaps a mental disorder. More likely, just a personality quirk. But there’s no time of year quite like autumn. It makes me wish it would never end. I suppose it is like living each day as if it were your last. No one thinks about death during the spring, when everything is being born. Nor the summer, when things are being watered (if not drowned) by torrentials. They think about death in the fall, and, most of all, in the winter. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that spring and summer are more well-liked than autumn and winter. But I’m always just a little bit weird.
There’s usually a lot of good in the summer. Swimming, and camping. Ice cream, cold drinks. Flame-grilled animals wafting through the hot air; sports. Lots of fun. But there’s not the mood that autumn provides. Sure, summer produces its own mood. But autumn produces this different mood. One might call it “pure elation”. The same feeling others feel during the spring, or the summer. It isn’t about piling up leaves, and jumping in them. It’s the fact that the dead leaves exist at all. Hanging from the trees, providing the backdrop for ominous imaginings. Halloween is the time for monsters, afterall. It could be the fact that autumn is the beginning of family time. Holidays are always an excuse to get together with family, and the end of the year seems to include more family time than any other time of year (of course, there’s the 4th of July. But the “holiday season” is Halloween, but, more importantly and seriously, Thanksgiving and Christmas (important and serious simply because of the contrasting moods of Thanksgiving and Christmas as compared to Halloween. Halloween is still important)). And, as always, there’s more delicious food than any other time of year (unless you’re always around an older woman who enjoys cooking, and enjoys satisfying her family with her food). But yet, there’s something more.
Autumn is the time of year where you can be inside, or outside, and still be comfortable. The storms of the summer have long gone. No more clouds. No more thunder and lightning, or deluge. Clear skies. Clear, cold, starry skies. Comfortable inside, and out. Inside providing that warm, sleepy comfort, which becomes more pronounced when the trees are sticks, and the ground is ivory. But the outdoors become a nuisance. A hazard. Ice is the “name of the game”. And the ice can destroy your indoor comforts, until some pitiful men come and help make your inside more bearable.
But the autumn isn’t that severe. It’s cold enough to wake you up, but not cold enough to make you want to kill yourself. Not quite cold enough to get deathly ill (unless you’re stupid enough to still try to swim in the summer lakes and rivers). No, autumn is the time between awakenness and sleepiness. The time after running around, and the time before electric blankets. It is the time of laying on the grass outside, looking at the stars in the coldness, and imagining just how much colder it is up there than it is down here. Just how hot those stars really are. There’s no math, necessarily, required, to appreciate the beauty of nature. Complementary, but not comprehensive. At least not to this dreaming poet.
The time is coming for sweaters and heaters and feasts and family and presents and pine. And there’s another special time, sooner than this, where everyone pretends to be monsters, and laughs, high on chocolate, or punch. Gorging on more fictional blood than normal; a time when only the most staunch “Christians” oppose the gorefest. One would hope, and pray, that even the most Conservative among us let loose, and enjoy a bloody flick this time a year. God, I would hope so…
I know, to many, spring is their favorite time of the year, because the plants come back to life from the frost. I can only stare at a tree for so long until I get bored. “Spring” means “clean”: it’s time for the dust of winter to go. I suppose I’m much to lazy to actually enjoy cleaning. I do enjoy it when I finally feel like taking the initiative, but to do it constantly diminishes the beauty of it. I don’t want eclipses to become mundane.
To some, summer is their favorite time of the year, much for the same reason: being outdoors, grilling or swimming or camping or hiking. Connecting with nature. Some enjoy being in “summer” constantly, and wish to be there, even if they can’t. They never get enough of beaches and bikinis, and, sometimes, booze.
To some insane souls, winter is their favorite time of year. Their unholy souls are warmed by the white coffin. Perhaps they are sadists who enjoy seeing people slip upon the ice. (Some people enjoy being where winter exists year-round, to see how “tough” they really are. Admirable, but I’m much too soft for that. At least, at the moment).
But autumn is where my heart lies. Could it be because this is the time of year where the color orange boldly thrusts itself upon an unsuspecting populace? Pumpkins and Crayola drawings of leaves from children and candy corns? Orange does have a way of catching the eye. The orange of October turns into the brown of November, into the white of December. (Interesting how, in this case, white means death. Normally, black, its opposite, means death. But aren’t there some old sayings about seeing a bright white light when one dies? We pretend to know what death is in October, with black everywhere, and zombies, and actors pretending to be murderers. But December is when everything really dies. It becomes dead and blinding, almost like actually dying, according to many accounts of Christians. Could that be why many Christians hate Halloween? Not only the demons, but the fact that it is the time of pretending to be dead, instead of actually dying, which is what their entire lives revolve around?) But, oddly enough, people’s spirits come to life in the autumn. No, in truth, they never really die. Souls are alive in the spring, alive in the summer, alive in the fall, and, yes, even alive in the winter. An excuse to cuddle up with a blanket, and just be happy. Remember that? Before you had to go to school, remember how you felt when you came inside after playing outside in the snow? Remember how happy that made you? You could’ve avoided the outside altogether. But it wouldn’t have been as good. Isn’t that interesting? The cold made you happier to be warm. It provided you with a comfort that you normally didn’t feel. That you took for granted. That’s rather interesting, isn’t it?
Some of the perverted (mainly Conservatives, as it were), will use that fact to suggest that we should all stand outside in the snow, naked, catching all kinds of sicknesses, to appreciate our heaters inside. I’m not that perverted and sadistic. Rather, I’m honest enough, and good enough of a person, to merely say that I enjoy the autumn. No, I love the autumn. There’s no other time in the world like it. I don’t know how I’d feel if I ever lived in a place that didn’t have autumn. I fear it would drive me mad. I love this time of year, and I plan on enjoying it for the short time it makes a visit. I hope, maybe, if you’re one who doesn’t enjoy the changing of the season, particularly when it gets colder, that I’ve maybe caused you to reconsider your position. Take in that sharp breath of cold air, and wake up. Or go inside and have a hot drink, if you wish. I think I’ll stare at the stars for a while longer, and soak in the frozen canvas. And, besides: isn’t that what makes paintings so special? Hell, not only paintings, but photographs, and books, and movies? The fact that they are frozen in time, and constant? Never-changing? We know what to expect from them once we’ve experienced them. And that, in itself, is comforting. It’s just refreshing to be slapped in the face by cold air every once in a while, as well.
I’m not sure if my best friend, Devin Stevens, wishes me to make this public or not. But I think I will, anyway. My best friend, Devin Stevens, has a habit of walking back and forth, talking to himself. It is interesting, and some might even say peculiar. I really only paid attention to it when trying to talk to him, only to be ignored. A boy lost in his own head. Consumed by his own thoughts. The outside world, be damned. How it has always been, how it will always be. No hard feelings, of course. But I did find it quite interesting.
And now, here I sit, these several years later. A post opened, writing down words. Struggling to find exactly how to say what I wish to say, and how I want to say it. So what do I do? Why, I pace back and forth, and start talking to myself, of course. Why? Well, as I paced back and forth, talking to myself, I realized something. What am I doing when I talk to myself, walking back and forth? Well, I’m thinking, and I’m communicating. I’m thinking, organizing, and communicating it back to myself. And what is writing? Writing is thinking and communicating. So, in other words, they are the same. Thoughts come out of nowhere, and then, the will acts upon them. The thoughts come, effort is put into them as far as organizing and developing are concerned, and the end goal is some conclusion. Some conclusion to the sequence of thoughts that have occurred. At that point, one can decide whether or not to communicate those ideas: in what form, to whom, and how. Then, the communicatee goes through the same process, and back and forth it goes.
So what is the point of communication? The point is whatever the communicators want it to be. In other words, why does anyone ever talk to anyone at all? Because they want to; have decided to, for whatever reason. And these reasons are varied. So why do I communicate? For various reasons. The main one being that I want to. And why do I want to? I do not know. I think thoughts, I like them, and I want other people to be aware of them. “Do you like them, too?” I suppose that’s the main point. “Do you like my thoughts, too? Do you enjoy them as much as I do? Because I’ve really enjoyed them. They’ve made me happy. Do they make you happy?”
I realize that this is humorous to say, but, of course, I am not the only person who thinks, and I am not the only person who communicates. Everyone does this. When people communicate with me, I listen, and think. And then, I communicate back. And there have been very few people who I have communicated with who enjoy writing as much as I do. The main one is my best friend. And I don’t think our love for writing and our friendship status are separable.
Most of the people I have communicated with have skills that I don’t have. They tell me that I should learn those skills, as they have, because it would be helpful. My natural instinct is just to pay someone else to do it. It’s easier. I do something else for money, and give you the money to fix my problem that I don’t want to learn how to fix. It’s understandable how blasphemous it is to someone who does “fix their own problems” (arguably, I am fixing mine by paying someone else to fix it for me). But I don’t think those people love writing as much as I do. I never hear them talk about stories that they wish to write. Or treatises. It never seems to come up. Not once. They might mention a book that they’ve read, that someone else has written. But they never say “Hey, I want to write a book.” I realize that people don’t live in a fantasy-land where they can do whatever they want when there is money that has to be made, things that must be fixed, food that must be obtained to be eaten, etc. But starving artists have always, and will always, balance between making the money that they need to make and doing what their heart really wants to do. And that is a very difficult struggle. Artists often choose their art over more money. Non-artists don’t really have to make that decision: they just pick the money, no questions asked. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Some people seem to have accepted that “it doesn’t matter” what their heart really wants. But how many of them are happy? And yet, they’d respond that their happiness doesn’t matter. I reject that philosophy from many fronts. I have a lot to say about it. I’ve written about it some, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it in the future. But I reject the way that basic truths are applied by “the public”. I disagree with the way “most people” seem to apply reality. I can’t really get into it all here. I think that it will be a “life’s work” that I work toward; explaining my philosophies.
So how do I talk to anyone when they do not desire to write much of anything (for various reasons), when I do desire to write fictional stories or “treatises”? That’s the hard part. Talk gets small, even if important. It never comes to what I love. (Why “should” it? Well, why should I listen to anyone talk about anything at all? Why should I listen to someone, even a friend or family member, talk about their children? Or their health? Or the health of someone else that they care about? Well, it is simple. They have decided to tell me these things because it matters to them. And I listen, because I am either their friend or family member, and that’s what friends and family members DO. So why should the conversation ever come to what I love: writing? Well, why should any conversation ever come to anything that ANYONE loves?)
I suppose it rarely gets to what they love, either. Other things take precedent over dreams. One has to be able to eat, after all. And there ain’t gonna be any food if there’s none grown or raised. But my will, my decision, is to write. That’s what matters to me on this planet. I may not know how to fix my own car, or my own plumbing. But who is going to write if I don’t? Mechanics and plumbers won’t be writing. If everyone was a mechanic or a plumber, there’d be no books. I want to create books for mechanics and plumbers and everyone else to read. That is important to me. I’m more than happy to pay someone else to fix my problems if that means I don’t have to spend the time and energy learning how to do them when I could be reading or writing instead (or Hell, even listening to music, or playing video games, or whatever else that I want to do). It’s worth it to me to pay that price.
But it’s honestly my fault that conversations that I am in never include my love for writing. Why? It is very simple. Because the very skill that I’m lacking is the very thing that I love to do. In other words, what I love to do is to communicate. But I’m not good enough at it yet to actually do it. So I can’t accurately communicate to others that what I love to do is to communicate. I struggle constantly with that. Of course, questions are begged: “What kind of communication?”, etc. And there’s a million different pieces of advice that I will not take. I will do communication in my own way; in a way which brings me happiness. And I can’t accurately explain why it is that I’m going to do that at the moment, and thus, the frustration continues. It never really truly ends.
Writing is very hard. There is no way around it. It’s hard and it will be hard until you finish it. And you can say “Thank God” when it is done. But getting anything done is just hard, and there’s no way around it. If you want it done, it’s going to be hard. And if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. So it is either “hard” or nothing at all. As is every area of life. And that’s why being alive is such a son-of-a-bitch situation to BE in.
Everything looks easy when someone else is doing it. But doing something for yourself will always show you how hard it really is to do. I’ve always enjoyed learning that for myself, because once I learn how hard something is to do, I don’t sit around, envious of others, saying “I could do that. Life isn’t fair.” I’ve had enough of that for one lifetime, and I’m done surrounding myself with people that think that way. “It’s not fair that person has muscles and I’m fat. Welp, let’s start eating right and exercising. Hey, I exercised for a week. That’s pretty good. Where are my results? What? You’re telling me I have to do this CONSTANTLY? And I’ve got to drastically alter my diet? Uhh…so my choices are to either drastically change my lifestyle and get the muscles, or keep my lifestyle and either stay envious that I don’t have muscles or just say ‘Fuck the muscles’? I think it’s time to move on.” I personally could not handle anymore envy than I had in my late teens. It was unbearable. Muscles and money, muscles and money. My envy of those with more money than me reached a breaking point, and that’s when I decided to learn what the fuck was going on. To me, my choices were to either “Rip everybody off like everybody else is doing who has a lot of money”, or be “A good person who will inevitably be poor”. I thought those were my only two options. And at that point, I broke. My life changed forever from that day. That was as low as I had been in a while, but things changed for me that day. I know it was a religious experience. Everything has been completely different since then. And I’ve never looked back.
I’ve made some philosophical life choices over the years. At one point, I chose to be nihilistic because I thought it was “cool”. The completely idiotic “split” between religion and science made me choose science because science made sense, and if religion said science was bullshit, then I knew religion was bullshit. But thinking that science had every answer known to man made me angry and depressed when it, inevitably, was given questions that it simply couldn’t answer. Something was missing. “Science” was not enough of a framework to me. Thinking of how to “scientifically” explain light waves every time you turn on a light bulb isn’t healthy. With one caveat. It isn’t healthy if you DON’T LIKE IT. That is what I finally realized, with some help from my best friend, Devin Stevens. Devin introduced me to some religious ideas that I had never considered before. And I pondered them, and pondered them. And the more he told me, the more things made sense. And my life has completely changed, for the better, because of him. Without a single doubt. My perspective on life has completely changed thanks to him.
My parents, of course, have also influenced me. My father always told me to get an education, so that I could have a better job than HE had. He told me this and told me this and told me this. “Don’t do what I did. Go to school.” And my mother always gave me the confidence that I could make my dreams a reality. The “unstoppable force” (very evidently my mother) and the “immovable object” (very evidently my father) made ME. I couldn’t imagine being anyone else. Their advice produced a lot of anxiety within me growing up. I didn’t know how I was going to “do better than them”. I wanted to, because they advised it, and I didn’t want to hate my job every day, as they did. I was desperate to avoid that lifestyle. But I had no idea what I was going to do. HOW I was going to do it. I looked to the “rich and famous“: what have they done? What do they do? They play basketball? They act? Let me try those. And it was a fantastic decision to try. Because of what I mentioned earlier. My envy quickly evaporated. And I needed to learn something that I could actually do.
I learned to read at a young age, and I read a lot to my parents. I’ve written some about my history with reading here. And, somehow, I’ve got a “knack” for writing as well. Probably got it from my parents. It got developed in school as well. I’m convinced that good readers can write. Hell, I can write, and I’m not even a good reader. But writers are thinkers. But I don’t think that is enough. Writers aren’t just thinkers: they are UNIQUE thinkers. Common ideas don’t need to be written, because they don’t need to be read. If everyone says the same thing all the time throughout their day in communication with one another, why would any of them ever take the time to write something? Or read something? It’d always be the same. So writers are unique. There has to be something unique about writers. Even if multiple writers write very similar things, there’s just something different about us writers. We’re just different. Unique. Strange. “A little off”. And that’s what makes us so great. That’s what makes us worth reading. We’ll come to you when we need our cars fixed, but maybe we can entertain you or teach you something while you’re shitting. When people do what they desire, and take action, things just seem to have a way of working out symbiotically. Years of studying economics has taught me that profound fact.
So I appreciate it when a friend or family member tries to give me advice. I may or may not know exactly what they know, but, at the very least, I’m sure their hearts are in the right place. But I know what my heart says. I know what I need to do. I don’t know exactly how it will play out, but no one does. No one who gives advice knows how everything will play out. So the question becomes: what should I do? That, I will figure out myself. And, right now, it is telling me to write. It is telling me that I need to learn a lot more when it comes to writing. It is telling me that I need a lot more confidence when it comes to writing. That I need to read more. That I need to be more assertive. That I need to write more often. That I need to dedicate more time and patience to writing. And it is telling me that I need to be by myself, walking around, back and forth, thinking of things. Because that will, inevitably, help me with my writing. And that is what I want.
I think you’re on to something, Devin. I don’t know if you realize it or not. But I truly believe you are on the right track. And I believe I’m going to follow in your footsteps. I can’t thank you enough. Good luck to you. And to all of my fellow artists. And Hell: even to the non-artists, too. Good luck to EVERYBODY.
I have always scoffed at the phrase “Life is not about the destination, but the journey.” No doubt, as is the case with everything, this was influenced by being raised in religion. I was introduced to the idea that when I die, there is a perfect place I am going to if I do x (let’s not get into what exactly x is, as its far too complicated to elaborate here, for the purpose of this piece, in my opinion). I’ve always had a destination in mind (two, in fact). My every thought, action, and feeling was weighed against these two destinations. There was not a moment in my life where these two destinations did not have a direct, powerful influence over me. I believe this “destination-mindedness” has bled over into other areas.
“I’m in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.” The truth that everyone is going to die someday, including me, has always made me aware of the sands of time ticking away. Anxiety has been my modus operandi for my entire life. Everything I do, I just want to get over with, and just get to the end. As I wish to write, this attitude starts to creep in. I ask myself: What is the final destination with regards to writing?
I love listening to successful people (especially artists). Over and over, I’ve always heard that they are never satisfied with what they’re doing. They always want more. They always strive to get better and better. I thought that was dumb as a child. Not only did I think that rich and famous successful people were the scourge of the earth, but I thought the idea of living life without a destination was ludicrous. Why would the ambiguity of “getting better” be a more valuable “destination” than an actual concrete destination? (Measured by what, God only knows).
My destination of choice is to make a living doing a job that I love. That is my main goal in life. But as I ponder what my life would be like if I had “enough money to last a lifetime”, I think: what would I do with the rest of my life then? If I, at age 25, were an infintillionaire tomorrow, what would I do? What would my emotional state be? I would certainly feel more secure, which is a gigantic motivating factor at this point in my life. But what would I do? It is so easy for people who are having a difficult time financially to think money is “the end”. But that thought depresses me. What do you mean “the end”? Surely you aren’t going to die immediately after making such-and-such amount of money, correct? What are you going to do? What are you going to spend your money on, and when? How much? How are you going to spend your time? It is very easy for people to enviously scoff at the rich, but it is a legitimate question. It is not a 100% guarantee that any amount of money will make someone a certain “level” of happy. Of course, it’s foolish to not acknowledge the obvious benefits of money. If I had a certain level of money (which I’m not quite sure what that would be), it would certainly alleviate many of the problems that I have currently. But I am quite sure that it would not touch others. It’s easy for me to say this now, but I do not anticipate that my life would change that much from how it is now. I would imagine that I would be happier as compared to thinking about working 6 days a week, 8 hours a day, at the alternatives where I live (it also depends on what I would be doing to make that amount of money, how much I enjoyed that work, etc.). But, for the moment, I have a great deal of financial security. I realize this is limited, so I obviously think about the future. If I were to have a significant amount more money than I have now, I think I’d still be doing the same things I’m doing today. I don’t like the idea of flaunting my wealth around with expensive cars and luxury items. I’d probably fix the house up a bit, and save the rest. Maybe take a couple of trips, which would be different than I’m doing currently. But I anticipate that I’d still have the desire to write and create comedy for myself. I don’t think money would change that fact, because I’d still need something to do. Of course, I’d have more money to spend, and, thus, more options. Perhaps I can’t even conceive of what those options could be. But I want to write, and I want to create comedy. I don’t see this changing, even if I had a quadrillion dollars in the bank. I would just need something to occupy my time, and there’s little I enjoy more (productively speaking) than writing and making myself laugh through creating various things.
This has led me to the conclusion that I finally understand (at least, in my opinion) the phrase “Life is not about the destination, but the journey.” I am starting to understand the profundity of that statement. I abhor the phrase “studies have shown”, but they have that there’s a certain amount of money which produces max happiness, and going above that (especially excessively) decreases that happiness. That makes sense to me. I can see that being the case. “Nice to see that your beliefs, whatever you base them on, matches up with science, Cody.” I’m glad I could please you.
The conflict along the journey bugs me: the fact that we all naturally go from being happy to sad to angry; that our life circumstances change; that we’re stuck doing the same necessary, mundane things from day to day. These things bore me, infuriate me, and I haven’t committed myself to focusing on anything else. I think that I have not committed myself to anything else largely due to the fact that I have believed that life is about the destination, and my destination was of a religious origin (and, of course, you can’t expect a child to have his entire life planned out for himself. I’m still young). I’ve ran away from “the world” in favor of “spirituality”, but now, I’m, very slowly, learning to appreciate the world. Learning to appreciate now. Life used to be this thing that just “got in the way” of me going to Heaven. Living here on Earth, through time, was a nuisance. Not only that, but it was actively preventing me from going to Heaven. Not only in the obvious sense that being alive means that I haven’t “died” and gone to the afterlife, but life here on Earth was affecting what was going to happen to me after I died. My entire life structure was based on certain beliefs regarding what it took to go to Heaven. Most of this involved hating the Earth. But I don’t believe that anymore. Thank God.
It is going to take a lifetime to develop a philosophy regarding my life here on Earth. Undergoing a very significant change in religious philosophy starts off with getting rid of the old ideas, and replacing them with new. I have a general sense of what the new will be, and I’m working on getting rid of the old, but there’s still a lot of unknowns regarding how I feel about the journey. That is part of the journey: figuring it out, and writing about it. That feels pretty good.
Introspection helps me with a lot of problems. Many personality traits remain the same over time, but my philosophies have certainly changed over time, and I look forward to seeing what “peak” happiness is going to look like for me. At what point in my life am I going to be the “happiest”? Is it currently? What will my life circumstances be? My job? My financial situation? My hobbies? It is very interesting to me. Once again, I have an intrinsic desire to “hurry up and get there”, but “the grass could be greener on the other side” or whatever. There’s so many variables that it doesn’t really do me any good to think about the future in that regard. Although goals are definitely important, I want to relax. I want to have more of a “journey” approach than a “destination” approach. Ignoring people is very hard for me: especially if they speak confidently about something I haven’t given much thought. This is certainly the case when I hear, in my head, all of those that will tell me how the fact I’m not preparing for the future now is going to make my life suck in the future, I’m going to be saddled with an immeasurable guilt, that could’ve been avoided if I would’ve only taken step x right now-look. We both know that we don’t know shit about the future. Yeah yeah, I know. Experience. “Odds”. Blah blah blah. I have my own philosophies that I want to develop, for my own reasons. I am done uncritically accepting the “advice” of others to the detriment of myself.
The “destination” stress of a religious variety that plagued me in my youth was also of the “future here on earth” variety. I’ve written about that before.
I have always been susceptible to abandoning myself to do what others advise me to do. It is traditionally been hard for me to tell myself “No” with regards to taking actions that are suggested to me. A problem is that I haven’t been able to explain to myself the problems that I had with their suggestions. That just changes over time, with age, in my case. I feel stress when others tell me that I need to change what I’m doing, and even more stress when I try to take their advice. Something has to give. My wants matter. I’m currently not thick-skinned enough for my taste. It has been a work in progress for a long time now.
Of course, the destination that I have in mind is the same one a lot of people share: being wealthy, and relaxing in a gigantic house. Having a “permanent vacation”. Filling time with the same things I’m doing currently, but without financial anxiety. I’m not going to let anyone convince me to have a different goal. Write about the problems that you have with my philosophies among yourselves: don’t tell me, because I don’t fucking care.
I want to see how my writing develops over time. How my use of language changes, how my tone changes. I’m happy with my non-fiction up to this point, but I want to write a lot more of it. I want to get crazier, smarter, more sarcastic, and more organized with it. As my best friend has said, you have to get better at something if you do it enough. You won’t remain stagnant. I’m banking on that as far as writing is concerned. I also need to read a lot more, but that’s a whole nother story for another day. I still have a sense of hopelessness that things aren’t going to matter, anyway. No matter how many times people write about, say, how unnecessary nuclear weapons are, they’ll still be developed, and still threaten us all. I personally find it pointless to write from a “change-the-world” standpoint, because I don’t think it is going to work. That isn’t to say that words don’t have a profound impact. But, from my point of view, I accept that there are always going to be shitheads that try to fuck everything up for the rest of us, and there ain’t much I can do about it. I can whine and complain, but other than that, not much is going to happen. If someone is willing to twist my arm off, say, for something I wrote, I don’t think any amount of screaming in pain is going to change their mind. There’s certainly a certain amount of inevitability when it comes to evil, regardless of how depressing that fact is. The goal is to avoid the arm-twisting for as long as possible by as many people as possible disseminating the fact that arm-twisting is evil to as many as possible, and then, we just have to hope for the best. A fucking miracle, as it were. I don’t know if that will be enough while I’m here, but I suppose this is one instance where I think it works to be “destination-minded” as far as the afterlife is concerned. When I die, none of what happened here on Earth is going to matter to me. There’s no telling how long I’m going to have to wait to reach that point, but whenever it happens, it will last forever, so I guess there’s one thing to look forward to. The only problem is figuring out what exactly to do along the journey to getting there. It truly does take a lifetime to find out, for better or worse. That feels like such a long time to figure something out. I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to it. I guess it all depends on what happens within it.
My overall approach to my journey is to coast. This attitude was developed over the course of my childhood, when things were beyond my control, and no matter what I did, I could not alleviate the bad. My actions did not help the circumstances surrounding me one bit. I had to accept the circumstances, and become depressed. That helped foster my apathetic attitude, which, regardless of your beliefs, really did help me out. Of course, it is tragic that it came to that, but “it is what it is”. I frequently found that the harder I tried at something, the worse I got. I didn’t have an overall philosophy that I was longing for. I was confused, and that made me miserable. Apathy helped me disconnect from negative external circumstances, and that helped me develop intrinsically as well. When I failed and failed and failed, no matter how hard I tried to succeed, I finally developed apathy. In this “moralistic cliche” world in which we live, that’s outright blasphemy. But it helped me out more than I can say. “Apathy” has been my modus operandi for a long time now, and it has helped me out tremendously. I’ve coasted, and been very lucky. But, as I’ve written about before, I’ve uncritically listened to people enough in my lifetime. It’s time to be more stubborn and judicious.
There is something about freedom that just produces happiness within oneself. Freedom just produces this happiness. This good feeling. Success, of course, produces yet more good feelings and happiness. But even separate from success, there is a happiness that just naturally comes from independence. It is so intrinsic to our very existence; makes up our core. It is the “will”, and the exercise of that will produces a natural happiness. Of course, we make mistakes, feel miserable about it, beat ourselves up about our stupidity, etc. But, still yet, there is a happiness that comes from the exercising of one’s own will. Because, as I’ve elaborated on before, who cares more about my happiness than me? Who cares about one’s happiness more so than oneself? This is where “do-gooders” will pipe up and say “Some people don’t know what is best for them”, etc. etc. And it is certainly the case that many with self-destructive lives are happy after someone intervenes. But the point is that every action taken is an attempt to achieve a greater state of happiness, even if it doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean that mistakes will not happen, but every person is always attempting to make himself happier than he is currently. When he’s hungry, he eats in an attempt to satisfy himself, even if what he eats leads him to get food poisoning, and he’s worse off than he was before he ate. The point is that every person attempts to increase their satisfaction, even if they ultimately don’t. How can anyone argue against the good of that? Not successfully, I would argue. The nature of man is to have a will and exercise it.
Humanity is so complex that writing about it is a great chore. It truly takes a special mind to do so effectively. There’s so many different paths to choose from, so many varying lengths of the different paths, and the destination is so often unknown. One can go to medical school for many years, incurring great debts, and then regret it later on in life. Someone else can consider that experience the best decision they ever made. Newborns die all the time, while some live to be 10. Others, 20. Still yet others, 30, and some even make it to be 100. We desire to make sense of this. This inequality bugs many, if not most of us. It introduces us to tragedy, and unfairness. We seek to understand it. At least, for a little bit. Then, we find other things to cheer us up. If it makes one happy to continue to ponder these tragic inequalities of the world, I would say continue to do so. But if one does not enjoy doing so, but feels obligated to do so, I would urge that individual to move on. In my opinion, “Help” really helps when the helper feels some satisfaction to do so. If an individual has a gun pointed to his head, and is required to “help” another, there’s clearly something lost in that. If we should strive towards being more “loving” people, we can’t do that by pointing guns at each other’s heads to arrive at that point. Does that mean I dislike guns? No. Defense is different from aggression. We should not be initiating violence to achieve peaceful ends. But I, personally, do not believe that one who engages in violent defense is “unethical”. Life is a balance between evil, forgiveness, and justice. This is what we have. The evil is unavoidable in a complete sense. Evil consumes us all, even when we don’t want it to, from time to time. We will all wrong other people during our lifetimes. I think it is a blessing that the degree to which we wrong others can be less severe than others. Although we are all sinners, we are not all murderers. I consider that a blessing. But when it comes to love, forgiveness, and justice, we must accept our natural humanities. Fear is natural within us as humans, it is true. But it is also true that love is greater when freely given instead of being coerced. It is always better than aggressive violence.
The harder I try not to sin, the more I’m aware of my sin. It consumes me to the point of hopelessness and depression. And anger. Why is that what God would rather have me do than enjoy the good times as they naturally occur throughout the course of my life? If God cares about me, why would He want me to torture myself? Surely there are some similarities between humans and God, if we were “made in His image”? Why would our concept of caring for someone give us a feeling of compassion, whereas when God enters that equation, it leads to misery and fear? I don’t buy it. God does not torture us because He loves us. Therefore, we should not torture ourselves just because we love God. If God has forgiven us for our transgressions, as Christians believe happened through Christ, then why can’t we forgive ourselves?
I don’t know anything more about my journey through life currently, so I’m going to end this piece here. All I hope for currently is that my pieces continue to get better, and that I’ll be able to recognize it. That’s probably the biggest step along my “journey” thus far. Is this step leading to the destination? I have no idea. But the destination makes me happy, the journey is making me happy, so that’s what I’m going to do.
Why do we desire to express ourselves with other human beings? What is this desire to “express”? What are we looking for? Why is it so natural, and so human? Why are we social creatures? Why don’t we exist without the ability, nor even, without the desire to express? Why aren’t we isolated atoms, unconscious, incapable of introspection, and without a sense of belonging? Why does the painter paint? The writer write? The musician music? Why is this how we are?
Interestingly enough, not only do we desire to express, but we desire to consume. I think it is fair to say that, for most, the desire to consume is greater than the desire to create: or, rather, that there are more consumers than there are producers. It seems as if there are more listeners of music than players, readers of books than writers, watchers of movies than actors, etc. Clearly, given the fact that we have minds, we desire stimulation for our minds. For some, this comes in the form of sexual violence, or other unspeakable evils. For others, this comes in the form of books. Human interaction of some kind is always desired at some time or another, whether the interaction be constructive or destructive.
Despite how natural this fact is, it still puzzles me. Indeed, it seems as if those facts most “factual” puzzle me the most. Questions with an answer “It just is” puzzle me the most. I ponder those most often. Their simplicity causing the most confusion. “But why?”
It would be fair to say that, obviously, considering the fact that each of us as humans is an independent entity, with individual desires, that we have different reasons for expressing ourselves. But yet, we share a common humanity, in that we desire human connection. Speaking for myself, I find most of this human connection unsatisfactory; and I would imagine the same is true for many. Sure, you see people as you drive down the road, but do you really want to converse with them all? Flag them down just for a chat? Clearly, we ignore a majority of people that we are aware of. Because we feel as if we do not need to engage in deeper levels of interaction to achieve what it is we are looking for from human communication. This exists on a spectrum, of course, as most, if not all human desires and actions do. Some are more willing to talk to strangers than others. But still, we all need some form of human interaction. And I just find that weird, even if, admittedly, it is a “given”. We’re all looking for something, and we are all going to experience the ebbs and flows of success and failure in achieving that “something”.
I suppose that expression, at least in my case, is not always about human interaction, nor communication, but rather a desperate attempt to speak. The desire to speak (mainly through writing) often overwhelms me. I don’t know why. I don’t care about the feedback. But yet, I still speak. What am I looking for from other people? Do I not write for others to read? Why do I want them to read? Why do I want them to read if I don’t want to read what they write in response? And is that actually true? Do I hate all responses to my writing? Do I enjoy any responses to my writing? And if so, what kind? Clearly, I enjoy feedback that says the reader “enjoyed” the work. I enjoy any positive feedback, as all creative people do. But that isn’t why I express. I don’t express to say “I can’t wait for that positive feedback.” No, I just have something to say. Something to “get off my chest.” Whether praised or critiqued, I have a desire to express myself.
We all have people whom we enjoy listening to. And we all have people whom we enjoy speaking to. But what of, say, people like writers? Musicians? We don’t write simply for our closest friends. We write to “the world”. To anyone willing to take the time to read, or listen. Why? My first thought is something cheesy, like “Making the world a better place.” Do I really believe that to be true in my case? For one, I don’t think my work is good enough for that currently to be the case. Do I desire for that to be the case in the future? Yes, I would say that I do. Of course, there is an economic aspect involved in expressing “for the world”, as “the world” has money. But I think it is fair to say that many, if not most “artists” express regardless of the money. There’s something about expression that we need. We were given thoughts, and we were given an ability to speak. It may very well be that it’s simply our nature to be expressive, regardless of how we are received.
There’s many different ways I could go with this. The quality of what is being expressed (if, say, what is being expressed is an attempt to convince others what ethics should be practiced). What is expressed at expression (“reaction” to an “initial” expression). The soul is desperate to speak out. I think this is simply a matter-of-fact, no matter how puzzling that fact is to me.
People risk their lives for expression. Many value expression more than their life itself. When one is deprived of human rights, the desire to speak out against that is overwhelming. The victims are letting the oppressors know that they are not going to take it anymore; that they are going to take a stand. Of course, their masters are expressing themselves as well: telling their slaves that their own slavery is good for them. Once again, expression is not necessarily ethical. There are various motivations for expression. But, nonetheless, the desire to express remains, whether one be introvert or extrovert; criminal, good Samaritan, or both.
In addition to, in my own case, being interested in my own reasons for being expressive, I am interested in how “expressions” are “received” in general. Everyone has types of music that they dislike, or artists, or songs. The musician has reasons for creating the music he or she does. And that music is either liked or disliked by any particular individual. It’s weird to me. Individualistic diversity will always puzzle me. I accept it as a reality, but it bothers me that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly understand it.
Why speak if few listen? Why speak if you ignore the listeners? Human interaction is a very weird, intricate thing. Musicians create songs that people love. And people buy albums, memorabilia, go to concerts, etc. Sometimes, millions of people are involved (more than that, if you consider the people who aren’t “fans” who are aware of the band’s existence, express that they don’t enjoy their music, etc.). And, typically, the musicians are very thankful to all of the people who financially support them. But, clearly, they can’t have a “one-on-one” conversation with each and every one of them. However, I guess, in some ways, they do have a “one-on-one” conversation with each of them. They sing the songs that the listeners enjoy, and the listeners voice their support of the music either by cheering or by purchasing their products. But yet, I think you get what I mean. It isn’t the same as sitting at McDonald’s with your best friend, talking about religion, financial situations, etc. The communication is a bit weird, but at the same time, is natural. Assuming that the song was not created simply to sell (meaning the musicians derive some independent, artistic pleasure from the creation itself), they sing. Whether they be rich or poor, they sing. They express. What are they looking for? Money is an obvious first answer. But there’s often more than that. There’s something else. A receiver? Who, and why? Why does the writer desire readers, and the musician listeners? If you take money out of the equation, why would we write? Why would we make music? We could make music that we enjoy, and try to share that joy with others. Perhaps that’s what it is, to a certain extent. “This makes me happy: does it make you happy too?” An attempt to spread “joy to the world.” Maybe it truly is an attempt to “make the world a better place.” Of course, there is a way to spread “joy to the world” that isn’t self-fulfilling. You can be unhappy while “making the world a better place.” Say, you’re a doctor, and you do good work. You can still hate your job despite the fact that your work is helpful, and “makes the world a better place.” But, I think often, expression is simply meant to make the expressor feel good; and who could say no to the others that happen to enjoy it as well? I think that’s as simple as it comes down to: basic joy. I’m not willing to ask the question why it creates joy, nor why joy is a desired result (especially as the latter question is absurd: one of those “it simply is” answers, even though I typically do enjoy asking those questions. I’m done with it here, however). One of these days, I attempt to have a body of work that fully explains my philosophy regarding happiness and the purpose of life.
Time to get back to the next piece of writing, whatever it is, struggling to find the best words to convey my thoughts that I feel worth sharing.
Welp, the holidays are officially over.
Back to the daily existential crises of lethargy, dreams, dead-end shit jobs, failure, confusion, ideological opposition, advice, uncertainty, boredom, conformity, pessimism, fury, doubt, dissatisfaction, stupidity, deceit, entrapment, and all of the other beautiful fucking things on this planet that we are blessed with that are all somehow supposed to be fixed with “a wife and kids”.
What a life.
To illustrate one of my points: it’s a shame that if you say something like “I can’t wait to go to Heaven“, people worry. “Oh my God, he’s going to kill himself!” Just one of the things that I’m talking about that occur regularly that bothers the Hell out of me. I’m not saying they are completely unjustified. Context has a lot to do with it. You can see what I mean if you read suicide notes from certain people. But hearing this anxiety from so-called “Christians” after I say something like this makes me cringe, because clearly, they are more unsure of where they are going to go when they die than I am sure of where I’m going to go when I die. I know exactly where I’m going, and I can’t wait to get there. I will wait (sadly; In my opinion, although you can clearly be happy while living, compared to Heaven (or the Garden of Eden), this life can’t help but make one feel dissatisfied. I think that’s why I am dissatisfied: because I have at least some small idea of what I’m missing out on, and I actually believe I’m missing out on it, instead of simply providing “lip service” to Heaven like many other so-called “Christians”) (Personal Happiness as a Virtue)). But taking care of my health does not interest me at all. I do not want to live 80 years on this planet.
Everything involved in this “daily existential crisis” feels, ultimately, trivial to me. Sure, my life is all that I have in the moment (of which, these things are a part of). So why not make the best of it?
Firstly, I have a problem with cliches like that, and it will take me a very long time to fully “get into” why I have a problem with these cliches. I guess, to be brief, there is a moralistic attitude behind these cliches. These cliches are treated like The Ten Commandments, whereby your every breath and action should be spent towards conforming to these “life cliches”. I have tried to do this in the past, and all it does is set you up for failure. You will always fail to live by these cliches. Period. It is inhuman to attempt to make these cliches divine edicts in your life. Cliches are true through the natural process of human action: much like The Ten Comamndments are divine edicts that we can never perfectly obey, even if what is in The Ten Commandments and perfectly living by them would make us have better lives. I’ll have to further analyze my past history with these “cliches” (and larger implications regarding them) at a later date. “But Cody, you say to let the ‘natural process of human action’ take place. Isn’t that what these so-called ‘moralists’ are doing? Clearly, they are humans acting. So how can you support the ‘natural course of human action’ as opposed to what they are doing if what they are doing is also a ‘natural course of human action’?” I’ll have to elaborate on this much deeper in the future. But the main point is that what they do just doesn’t work. It conflicts with what I mention in the next paragraph.
Secondly, I have my own personal philosophies that I want to live by (largely influenced because of what I mentioned in the first part), because the philosophies of others, very rarely, make me happy. In the past, I never thought that my happiness mattered. But, thanks to a religious transformation, triggered mainly by my best friend, I think my happiness actually does matter. Not only does my happiness matter in a spiritual (after death) sense, where God sent His Son to die for my sins, forces me to believe that through love, and provides me with an eternal paradise for no other reason than His own grace and love. My happiness actually matters on this Earth. (Personal Happiness as a Virtue). That, sadly, is a very revolutionary, rare thought; and thus, my “back to the daily existential crisis” paragraph. But I think that’s why I’m so dissatisfied. I’m ready to go to Heaven. I’m not going to hurry it along, but in spirit, I’m ready to go, enjoy my paradise, and be freed from the human condition, which enslaves us to labor, heartbreak, anger, broken families, abuse, government tyranny, nuclear war, and just the difficulty in doing something so necessary as producing food. The human condition has weakened my spirit, and “a wife and kids” isn’t going to fix it. That’s only going to make it worse. I don’t want to listen to this “make the best of what you have”, “enjoy the little things”, and all of this other crap. I’m making a conscious decision to ignore this, for the “moralistic” reasons I mentioned above (it conflicts with my nature).
There is a mindset that equates “maturity” with “misery”, and I don’t believe that (much like the atheistic “misery” that is “scientific” and “inevitable” “in nature” that I no longer believe). I believe that God cares about my happiness. Indeed, we were put on this Earth in a paradise, so clearly there was some purpose to our happiness. I personally think we were created to be happy for that reason (and then we fucked it up and lost it as punishment). So, in my opinion, when we are truly happy, we are as close to God as we can be. And, to put it shortly, I, therefore, do not personally believe that, for example, murdering someone can make the murderer “truly” happy. (Can we be happy in sin? Sure. But I think it’s complicated, and I think there are miseries that come about as a result of our sins that we don’t often think of when we say “Can’t we be happy in our own sin?” It’s complicated, I grant you. I’ll have to elaborate in a future piece).
Of course, there is a certain healthy maturity in accepting what you cannot change; particularly, if what you cannot change is negative. But I think that most people’s attitudes about “maturity” is not this, although maybe I’m wrong, and will be proven so in the future (or, perhaps, I’m wrong and will never become aware of it and it will make my life more difficult. Once again, there’s so many “what-ifs” that are considered when making decisions, and I’m not going to elaborate all of them involved in my own personal decision-making processes to justify them to others. I’m simply going to live for myself, in my own way, deal with the consequences that come, and enjoy the rewards, as all of us humans do).
But it seems to me that many people equate “maturity” with giving up. I don’t think this is completely unfounded: indeed, I think it is often sage. You have to eat, you need a house, etc. And, of course, you need money to buy these things, and most people get this money by providing services to others (services that they typically hate to perform, but do because they need the money). I am perfectly aware of all of this. But I am not going to hurry the process along. My mindset is to avoid this. There is a bare minimum, of course. But the day I accept “my job” as my life, and no longer dream of turning what I naturally enjoy doing into a career, is, at least for the time being, the day that I spiritually die on this Earth (I realize that sounds drastic, but I want to do what makes me happy. This dream makes me happy, so I keep it. For the time being, I don’t see anything that could effectively replace this dream on my “happiness” scale). I will either work on writing fiction, insightful articles, dark pieces of art, making myself look like a jackass for comedy’s/satire’s sake, and financially succeed, or I will work on writing fiction, insightful articles, dark pieces of art, making myself look like a jackass for comedy’s/satire’s sake, and financially fail (such as I’m currently) doing. But clearly, either way, you see what will remain (and I might as well dream big if I’m going to do it anyway).
I’m aware that if money is an issue, I could attempt to learn a job that would give me more money. But, once again, I have to do what makes me happy, and even if it ends horribly for me in the future, I have to try. It is within me to try to make it all work. I would not be able to live with myself if I didn’t try all of this, even if it means I forego other financial opportunities, valuable experience in a skill, etc. (I’m going to write an article called “What’s the worst that could happen?” to address exactly that (I hope that I can remember to link it here)).
I want to embrace the difficulty. I want to embrace the obstacles. I want to take the valid (and unfounded) opposition head on. I want to use all of it as fuel, turn it around, and give the world a giant “I told you so.” Failure simply means that I never succeeded when I was alive. And that isn’t that bad to me (once again, I’ll write a “What’s the worst that could happen?” article later to satiate those of you eager to tell me the worst that could happen, and also as a way to fully accept it and understand it for myself). If I try to make money doing something I love to do, and never do, but instead end up working at McDonald’s in my 40s, have I failed? In some sense, yes. I didn’t succeed in making my “dream job” a reality. But I succeeded in never having to wonder “What if?”, and I think that’s one of my biggest motivators. I refuse to put myself in a position where I will ask myself, 20 years down the road, “What if I would’ve started writing in my mid-20s? What if I would’ve started to try to make people laugh regularly in my mid-20s?” Of course, you can turn it around: “But Cody, ‘What if’ you wonder, down the road, ‘what if’ you had chosen a different career path that many people told you was a better guarantee?” Once again, I’m going to make my own personal decisions because, right now, the only thing I see making me happy is enjoying my job, so I’m going to try to take what I enjoy and turn it into a job. I will have to deal with the consequences as they come.
It is about success, but it’s mainly about being satisfied in this life. As I said, there’s a lot of talk about equating “maturity” with accepting the fact that you have to work a job you hate in order to survive. Once again, I’m not saying this is invalid. But 1) I am not going to put myself in that position sooner than I have to (thankfully, I don’t have to at the moment), and 2), I do not anticipate ever adopting the “Welp, this is my job for the rest of my life” attitude, so I might as well work on my “dream jobs” NOW. Spending time and energy towards creating a career that I enjoy NOW. Even if I change my mind down the road, I need to work on this NOW, while I want to, and while it invigorates me. That’s what I want. I just want to be happy; and right now, working on this makes me happy. I think that’s, ultimately, what this comes down to (and I can’t help but think of the people that give me “advice“, and what they did at my age (drinking, partying, etc.), and feeling like I’m different than they are, so maybe my outcome will be different).
Despite the small number of “success stories” that float as an island on the ocean of failure, the exceptions speak out to me louder than “the rule”. “The rule” makes me want to drink. And I don’t want to drink. I want to work on becoming an exception, using all of the “daily existential crises of lethargy, dreams, dead-end shit jobs, failure, confusion, ideological opposition, advice, uncertainty, boredom, conformity, pessimism, fury, doubt, dissatisfaction, stupidity, deceit, entrapment, and all of the other beautiful fucking things on this planet that we are blessed with that are all somehow supposed to be fixed with ‘a wife and kids'” as fuel and motivation to succeed in my own way.
I’m not giving up. I’m either going to become an exception, doing it my own way, or I will fail my own way. But, I believe more than anything (well, aside from, maybe, the financial success that I dream of) I want to feel free. And I’m currently exercising my freedom to the best of my ability, and I feel very pleased thus far (at least in some ways. Obviously, I’d be happier if I was already successful).
At least for the time being, I anticipate that, without a job that fulfills me, regardless of the pay, I will be dissatisfied. Currently, I will not adapt to any other choice than making my passions work. Could I “learn to live” with the job, and adapt myself around it to be happier? Of course. But I do not ever want to give up on this dream, regardless of how shitty my job is. I want this dream to be the reason that I wake up in the morning. At least for the time being, I want this to be my life, because it makes me happy, and I anticipate that, even though it will be a roller coaster, it will, ultimately, make me happier than I would be without it.
A steady job (at least in another line of work), although necessary, is not the end goal for me. I want to be so committed to something that I love that I will go to my grave trying to make it happen. I think that is a purpose that will fulfill me. I don’t want to accept spiritual death, and I think that without a purpose, I will spiritually die. And, currently, the only purpose that makes me happy is trying to make a living through writing and people laughing at me. Subject to change in the future, but, currently, it makes me happier than anything else in my life. I love dreaming and working on it all. It’s been a great experience thus far, and I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out in the end (whenever “the end” is).
“That was both well and terribly said.”