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Alarms

The first alarm of the morning goes off. You’re not simply annoyed because you’re tired and would like to get more sleep. You’re annoyed because this is the first of potentially a dozen alarms that’ll ring throughout the day, and this is the only one you’re actually capable of snoozing. The rest aren’t automated or electrical alarms. They’re all in your head and they’ll continue to go off as long as you breathe. There’s no snooze button, there’s no battery, and there’s no wire.

You turn off the alarm that wakes you up but you can’t go back to sleep. Tick tick tick. You have to get up to go wherever you’re supposed to be. Your head’s stopping you from sleeping, not your phone. As you go on with your day that god forsaken tick tick tick will come back. Again and again. It’s all for things you don’t want to worry about but need to and things you don’t want to do but have to. Why do you have to? Well it could be because of pressure from those around you. It could be because of your expectations of yourself. Finally it could be because you have to do things you dread in order to get to do the things you love. Of course it could be a combination of all of those things.

Obviously the best thing to do would be to say fuck it, but you can’t, can you? This post isn’t about the alarms you can snooze, it’s about the ones that drive you insane. People will tell you it’s not worth it and what will be will be. “It’s all fun. We’re not here for long so why don’t we spend our time here having a good time without stressing out?” But it’s not fun though, is it? If these alarms are going off because you need them to help you achieve your dream(s) then sure it can be fun maybe 50% of the time? But what if they’re going off at the end of the week? What if they’re going off at the end of the day after you’ve already been up for 12 hours and still have more work to do?

It’s not fun when you’ve grown so accustomed to these alarms that their absence is louder than their presence. When you’re done with everything for the day but you can’t get yourself to enjoy a movie, a show, or some music. When you’re out with friends but can’t help but think “this is a huge waste of time, I should be doing something.” And so it begins: the endless cycle.

You start off working because you have to, for whatever reason. Then you’re working because you’ve become productive and hey, if I work a little more today then I’ll have less work to do tomorrow. Eventually you get to a point where you’re working because there’s nothing else for you to do. Nothing else is satisfying or worth the effort. This is your basic state of mind now and anything else isn’t satisfying anymore. Even if what you’re doing doesn’t always leave you satisfied, but you’re left to choose between working and watching a movie. Neither of them is satisfying to you, so you might as well do the productive thing and work.

You’re lucky if you have something or someone that can take your mind off the alarms. If you do, never let go of it. Whatever it is, it’s the reason you haven’t gone insane. It’s why you’re still a functioning person. No matter what they say or how stupid it seems to others, if it makes you OK then fuck everyone and everything else.

Of course if this all seems odd to you and you have no idea what these weird alarms I’m talking about are, well I was going to say I envy you, but I don’t.

 

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Happiness: A Choice?

A lot of people say to me that I should change my mindset and become happy and optimistic and all of these wonderful things. It’s also something we constantly hear in movies and read about. The phrase “happiness is a choice” is so common I’m sure you’ve all heard of it.

No one ever really clarifies what they mean by choice though. They just tell you to choose to be happy like it’s an instant thing. You make up your mind and BOOM you’re smiling and birds are singing as they rest on your arm while colorful deer appear from nowhere. It makes you wonder if these people even know what they mean by choosing to be happy. You look at them and think they don’t seem happy either, they’re just repeating something that’s been said over and over. Of course they’re doing this with good intentions, but they lose all credibility and so you dismiss their words.

You go on with your life hearing them over and over again and each time you wonder when people will stop repeating that stupid saying that doesn’t carry any weight or actual meaning to it. Well recently it hit me that happiness is a choice, but it’s nothing like I imagined they meant. Maybe I misunderstood them because I’m slow or maybe they really didn’t know what they were talking about.

I came to the realization that happiness is about holding on to what makes you happy and letting go of what makes you unhappy. It really is a choice, but it’s a choice you have to keep making everyday. It’s not a one time thing. It’s not a state of mind. Everyday you’ll find at least one cause of unhappiness and at least one cause of happiness. It’s completely up to you to hold onto things and let go of others. You’re making these choices several times a day. You’re constantly choosing to be (un)happy.

It’s not always as easy or as clear as forgetting a lame comment from someone or remembering a gift you received. Sometimes a dream you’ve had for years is what’s making you unhappy. Your marriage could be making you unhappy. You saw a random act of kindness in the street that made you happy, but did you hold onto it or was it out of your mind one text later?

Of course I’m not saying you should immediately let go of anything that makes you unhappy because this could be a struggle and overcoming it may turn out to be the greatest thing about your life. So it’s more about knowing when to let go of things. When does your lifelong dream become not worth the fight and letting go of it becomes a necessity? Because we generally do usually hold onto things far longer than we should. It’s not just about wanting to succeed and achieve, it becomes about wanting to NOT fail which results in trapping ourselves in a situation or relationship (romantic or otherwise) because we just refuse to give up and not because we still find it fulfilling and joyful.

Maybe that’s why they say that smarter people have a harder time being happy. Maybe to them it’s about achieving, fulfilling potential, and leaving a mark on the world rather than being happy. They find it harder to quit on projects that they’re working on and they’re always looking for more when sometimes more is actually less. Perhaps they think in letting go that they’re settling for less which means they’re weak and incapable. Maybe it’s more important for them to prove something to themselves or others than to be happy. Their determination is making their choices for them rather than their desire, or lack of, to be happy.

Happiness is definitely a choice, or rather a constant stream of choices. They’re the most difficult choices to make because you have to know when something has reached its end and will result in no more joy, and when something else can still offer you more happiness and is worth this bad period that will eventually pass. It could be argued that letting go of something or someone is a weakness, but it could also be the toughest decision of all.

 

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Happiness vs. Freedom [controversial nonsense]

Before we start: I’m still struggling with these ideas so forgive any inconsistency you may notice. Don’t take it personal and start attacking me, like I said: still processing the ideas here. Don’t get too worked up. Honestly, just leave now.

It’s important to undertake the difficult task of defining happiness and freedom before we begin in order to clarify what I’ll be talking about because they’re too broad and they’re words you can’t have set and fixed definitions for.

What is happiness? Happiness is being satisfied, content, delighted, and any cheerful emotion along those lines or maybe all of them at the same time. It’s something you know you’re feeling when it happens. There are a few conditions, however; in order for you to truly be happy. Can you feel happiness if you haven’t eaten for two days? Will you take delight in the birth of your first child if you’re afraid for your life as well as that of your family? Probably not. These things practically fall under human rights and some entity should be accountable for providing them regardless of whether or not it actually does.

What about freedom? We stuck to a fairly traditional definition of happiness. The kind of freedom I’ll be referring to here is a more complete kind of freedom. We’re not talking about freedom of speech or the freedom to dress the way you want, we’re talking about the kind of freedom where you can do whatever it is you want to do. The freedom you get when there’s no government or system to limit, restrain, or punish you. Anarchy isn’t exactly what I’m going for, but if it’ll get you there then sure think of it as anarchy. The freedom to not have to pass through an educational system and get certain grades in order to work in a certain career. You announce yourself an architect. If people think you’re a fraud well they’re free to not use your services, but the government can’t shut you down. Don’t think this kind of freedom makes it okay to hurt others, it’s just that still any form of punishment you receive for hurting someone else won’t lie in the hands of a group of people using rules or laws to judge everyone equally. It will probably be in the hands of the person you hurt or those around him or her.

In this kind of system, or rather the absence of one, there doesn’t have to be chaos but at the same time things aren’t as well defined and as clear as they are in the world as we know it. You may have a shortage of miners, bakers, or scientists. In the absence of a system very few will have the desire to produce and help society evolve simply because there’s no society. At the same time people can be anything they want so the majority of the population may deviate towards a few professions at the expense of others.

Can you be happy living with this much freedom? This IS the height of freedom. There’s no oppression. There’s no system dictating what you should and shouldn’t do. There’s no entity to provide you with your basic human rights such as food, shelter, clean water, an education, and health services. You’re on your own. If this kind of system went into action tomorrow, and given enough time for people to take off their shackles, would you have factory workers? Probably not. Maybe people who already have commitments would find it too risky to try something new but there will definitely be strikes and demands.

Younger generations would refuse to work for someone who makes triple their salary who ultimately works for someone who makes dozens of times their salaries. After all they’re not forced to do this because they weren’t rejected from doing something else such as entering college. They’re free to do whatever they want.

This doesn’t sound very sustainable, does it? So who makes the bread in this scenario? Will there be enough bread for everyone? How can you sleep safely at night knowing that there’s no established punishment for anyone who robs you or kills someone you love? This is absolute freedom though, right? But it hasn’t protected you, fed you, or educated you. Your basic human rights, you have to fight for them now. Someone mugs you in the street well there’s no law enforcement. There’s no law. If you want your money back you’re going to have to look for them yourself and retrieve your things. There’s no police so you can file a report then continue your day and go to work. Where’s the happiness?

That’s why we’ve given up our freedom. We’ve accepted systems that limit our dreams and ambitions because they give us functioning societies. We’ve accepted that if the system says I can’t be a doctor then it’s probably right, after all the system gives me my basic human rights.

We think “The system knows what’s best for us and I accept it even if it means I can’t follow my dream. Tomorrow I’ll get over my dream. I’ll have bread and live a relatively safe life and things will get better. I’ll be happy.” You, me, and so many of us have given in. We need a system because we need the bread. Who doesn’t? In exchange for our freedom, at least we’re happy. To be more accurate at least we believe we’re happy.

What about the factory worker or the baker? Are these their dream jobs? I doubt it. Would they be happy if we lived in total freedom and they had to fight for their basic human rights? I doubt it. For you and me not getting into the college we want for instance and getting into another one it’s a downgrade but it’s OK. We’ll be led to believe that we’re happy eventually. What about the baker? He has his human rights and he accepts his role because society necessitates it. Is he happy? I doubt it. We’ve given up our freedom and settled for less. We’ve given up his freedom and he just accepted it.

What is happiness?

 

 

 

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Batman vs Superman: A Different Perspective

As children the vast majority of us preferred Batman and probably even hated Superman. What’s to like about Superman? He’s too overpowered you can’t even imagine him being beaten. Batman on the other hand seems more relatable. He’s human just like me and you. His back can be broken, he can run out of time, and he moves around in a car.

Moreover Batman’s dark theme makes him much more appealing. He’s lost his parents and he really hasn’t had anything since except for Alfred and a few Robins. He’s alone, but he’s a certified badass. You can’t outsmart him. You can’t out-think him. You’ll break his back or kill a Robin and he’ll make a comeback sooner or later. He inspires you because he’s someone, like you, who also struggles and comes out on top. He gives you hope that you can come out on top too. If he can do it then why can’t you?

Why would you relate to Superman though? If I had just one of his many powers I’d never have to work a day in my life. You can’t relate to him because you’ll never use your super speed or strength to solve a problem. You’ll never fly up to space to get energy from the sun in order to be stronger. You’re stuck here on Earth. If anything he should be he despised. Superheroes are made to inspire children. Superman seems like a character made to mock humanity. Where’s the inspiration? Where’s the struggle I can relate to? He’s got it all without even having to work for it.

It comes down to how each of them sees himself. Batman sees himself as Batman. Bruce Wayne is someone he has to pretend to be in order to keep his identity a secret. It’s a necessity. He doesn’t like being Bruce Wayne. Bruce is the alter-ego while Batman is the ego. If the sun stopped shining and it was always dark he’d never take off his cape. It would be time for justice 24/7.

It’s not the same for Supes. To him he’s Clark Kent. It’s who he’d rather be. If he could, he’d never take off his glasses and change in a phone booth. He’d stay at his desk at the Daily Planet working alongside Louis Lane. Being Superman is a responsibility. It’s a duty. Something you don’t want to do but you’re too good a person to ignore. He saves lives and rescues people because it’s a task almost no one else can do. It takes him away from the life he prefers to have and even puts his loved ones in danger.

To me that’s the struggle. That’s the difference between them. Batman is the certified badass who’s almost Sherlock Holmes with a cape. It’s what he spends most of his time doing. He protects Gotham and fights for justice. He’s let go of the rest. He has Alfred, Robin, and maybe a Batgirl. That’s all he chooses to have and maybe it’s all he can have whether he likes it or not.

Superman would probably give his powers to Batman in a heartbeat if he could. He would know they were in safe hands and that they would be used for good. He’d be able to sit at his desk and live a regular life and be happy. So in a way Batman has the ability to live the life Clark Kent wants and vice versa.

You probably can’t think of a fictional character more despicable than the Joker. He’s murdered thousands just for the fun of it. He’s even murdered a Robin. Has Batman ever killed him? No. He’s not Bruce Wayne. He’s not really a “human” who completely loses it. He keeps locking him up time and time again. When the Joker killed Louis Lane, you know what happened? Superman killed him by punching a hole through him, quite literally. That was all Clark Kent. That’s someone who just lost the most important person to them and acted in the most irrational humane way possible.

I guess it comes down to how you see yourself and how you want to live your life. Are you a Batman only focused on “justice” and the tools to achieve it having neglected everything else in life? Or are you a Clark Kent, an alien with a responsibility that’s more of a burden and the desire to get rid of it in order to be happy?

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Happiest Years Of My Life

I refuse the notion that my twenties should be the happiest years of my life. In fact I have no respect for a forty something year old who spends his/her days telling people they’ll never be as happy as they are, right now, in theirĀ  twenties. I’m not saying your twenties should be miserable, on the contrary. Have fun and do the things that make you happy in your twenties but don’t expect those ten years to be all fun and games.

What is your issue with being a college graduate or over thirty-one? Who told you the fun was over? Is it the responsibilities? Well if we’re going to look at it responsibility wise then your days in your mother’s uterus were probably the glory days of your entire existence. Responsibilities come after exiting the womb too you know. All of a sudden you’re asked to actively suckle/eat, start communicating, and even control when you pee. For someone who spent 9 months doing absolutely nothing these demands seem preposterous compared to the transition between college and life after college.

Is it because your twenties are when you’re supposed to not care about a thing and travel the world? Have you earned the right to those things? Are you traveling at your own expense or are your parents paying for it? If you’re 22-25 then the greatest achievement in your life is graduating college which is nothing basically. You’ve earned nothing. Yes you deserve to be happy but to say that the maximum amount of “fun” you can have should be at an age where you’ve done and achieved nothing is hilarious.

Alright, so it’s none of the above. You’re just logically thinking that since these are the peak years of your life physically and mentally you should utilize all that energy before you start having osteoarthritis. That’s insane. These aren’t the dark ages. Your life expectancy isn’t thirty years at best. Odds are you’re going to live until at least seventy. If your health stops you from having all the fun you want before you’re at least fifty-five then that’s on you for not taking better care of yourself.

Your twenties are arguably the most crucial years of your life. You could either prepare and work to prepare yourselves for great things, or you can spend them feeling bad about all the fun you’re missing and all the countries you haven’t set foot in yet. Yes, you’re at the peak of your physical and mental powers so you should utilize them to build a future for yourself that gets better with each passing decade rather than wanting your life to peak in the first quarter of it.

If you’re not looking forward to the future that’s on you. You want your life to peak early and spend the rest of it in living hell then by all means, go ahead if you can. If your motivation is success, love, money, fame, or anything else then you should be looking to achieving and enjoying what you’re looking for. If you’re so sure that your life will only get worse after your twenties then what’s the point of waking up for your thirtieth birthday?

Have fun, work hard, get tired, and temporarily give up every once in a while then get back to it. It’s okay, you’re only human. Just don’t mentally accept that your life will only go downhill after college and that college wasn’t even that much fun. Don’t prepare yourself for misery by lowering your expectations of the next 50-100 years of your life. Think of your twenties as the engine room of the ship that is your life. Work hard enough and one day it’ll run itself so that you can enjoy the view from the deck.

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Her name was..

Galileo realized the Earth revolved around the sun. The apple fell on Newton and he discovered gravity. Penicillin was accidentally invented. The Wright brothers learned to fly. Someone somewhere decided to put ice cream on waffles and the idea caught on. Two world wars done and dusted. The world had gone through a lot. It was preparing for someone special. It had tried over and over to mould itself into something wonderful.

The world failed. Despite its best efforts the harder it tried the worse things got. 9/11 lead to the “war on terror.” Cancer and HIV were recognized and a cure hasn’t been found. Revolutions that gave us hope only to take it away crushed our hearts every few years. Global warming a bigger threat than ever. Racism far from disappearing. In fairness the world had tried its best. It was mainly because of mankind that things weren’t as they should’ve been. The universe knew how important she was, but people were too self involved to see it.

She came to the world not knowing much about it. She was ignorant to the ongoing struggle that’s been going on for thousands of years just for her. The world was losing so terribly that she didn’t even realize how important she was. One thing she didn’t lose, however, was her connection with everything. She spent her days heartbroken over all the injustices that happened around her. She found peace and joy in a few things the world had created just for her. Things no one could take away.

Having failed in its mission to make itself as perfect as possible for her, the world considered ending itself (quite possibly by getting Trump elected as president and having him start a nuclear war). It was all for nothing. Thousands of years had gone to waste. From dinosaurs going extinct to mankind visiting the moon and what was it all for? It wasn’t good enough. She deserved better.

That was when the world was reminded why she was so important. Everything had revolved around her since the beginning of time. It was an assumption that she must be protected and made to live without sorrow. That’s the thing though: she was special. Special people don’t need special treatment. The world didn’t need to make itself hers. She owned it in her own way. The world didn’t have to try to be perfect anymore because she made it so. She accomplished with a smile what forces beyond comprehension have been trying to achieve since the sun lit up. The world needed her, and she was finally here.

Her name was Emma Stone. Or maybe it wasn’t, I’m often wrong these days.

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Guilt.

“My name is irrelevant. I’m 14 and unlikely to celebrate being 20. I have a muscle disease that will eventually affect my heart and kill me. My life hasn’t been miserable. I wasn’t always like this. They say there were years when I ran and felt the wind against my face, but these aren’t years I can remember.

My life has been mostly spent at hospitals and clinics. My first memories are of my mother frantically taking me to doctors. They always spoke in a tone that implied I was being praised saying how I’m a “classic presentation” but my mother never seemed to take pride in that. During every checkup they’d make me sit on the ground and try to get up in front of a new group of medical students who could only add to my life by clapping. Clapping that was canceled out by looks of pity louder than thunder.

Relatives always seem fascinated and relieved. They look at me then to their children and silently thank a God they still have a reason to believe in. That’s okay though, I don’t envy the other children or blame their parents for being thankful. The thing that gets me the most is how they’re asking my mom to do more. Telling her maybe there’s something she could do. Like she doesn’t already blame herself enough.

I googled my disease and I know I got it via a chromosome from my mother. A chromosome she couldn’t have known she had. I’m certain this has been mentioned to her on multiple occasions, it’s not like we’re strangers to hospitals by this point. She quit her job to take care of me. To take care of a son who’s going to die in a few years. I ask myself ‘what’s the point?’ Would I do the same for someone else? Why keep me alive and struggle this much if I’m just temporary?

I can’t get up on my own anymore let alone walk. I can barely feed myself. School is just a concept that becomes a reality a couple of times a year. I’m glad I’m getting an education, it’s something I can do on my own. I can read a book without being observed by the public as my mother grunts and gasps as she helps me get around. The last time I tried moving across a room on my own I hit the ground hard and the terror in her eyes was enough for me to never try it again. Seeing her struggle with me will always beat the mania followed by sudden relief when she realizes I hit the floor because I can’t support myself not because my heart finally stopped.

It’s unlikely that I’ll figure out why she’s doing this when she knows it won’t last in the few years I have left. I hope it’s not out of guilt or obligation. It’s hard to believe in anything anymore but the idea that she does it out of love helps me go on with my day while the thought of how she’ll feel when I’m gone keeps me awake at night.”

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