Go With The Flow: Trust It

Growing up, my dad often told me to, “Go with the flow.”

As with other things he said to me growing up, this only came to have meaning to me after he was gone (…the people we love have a way of gilding us like that, even after they are gone from our lives…).

My father’s advice of ‘Go with the flow’ is majorly resonating me at this dawn of this new year; you could say it’s dawning on me now. Exactly when it is supposed to; for this is the flow. Things happen for us in their proper course and time.

While this notion of going with the flow may strike some as new-agey, it really is an ancient idea that goes back at least to the Tao Te Ching, or ‘The Way’, wherein we are taught that:

The most submissive thing in the world can ride roughshod over the hardest thing in the world – that which is without substance entering that which has no crevices.

This is why I know the benefit of resorting to no action. The teaching that uses no words, the benefit of resorting to no action, these are beyond the understanding of all but a very few in the world.

Lao Tzu

This non-action is known as the principle of wu-wei, or non-doing.

From the wu-wei Wikipedia we read:

In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Lao Tzu, the attainment of this purely natural way of behaving, as when the planets revolve around the sun. The planets effortlessly do this revolving without any sort of control, force, or attempt to revolve themselves, thus engaging in effortless and spontaneous movement.

The Stoic philosophers, who were pantheistic and believed that the “divine spark” was in everything, held a similar view, in that nature ruled the world and that whatever happened was natural.

The Stoic Roman Emperor-General Marcus Aurelius, wrote in his Meditations:

Every instrument, tool, vessel, if it does that for which it has been made, is well, and yet he who made it is not there. But in the things which are held together by nature there is within and there abides in them the power which made them; wherefore, the more it is fit to reverence this power, and to think, that, if thou dost live and act according to its will, everything in thee is in conformity to intelligence. And thus also in the universe the things which belong to it are in conformity to intelligence.

In short, he’s telling us that there is an intelligence guiding things that we should revere, acting accordingly to its will.

Go with the flow.

And to the Stoic, anything else would be madness.

This is why they are stoic; nothing is disturbing their soul, which was seen as an “inner-citadel”.

Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.”

— Marcus Aurelius

The Stoics were wise, in knowing what they could and could not control (Stoicism became the basis for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), but they were neither fools nor new-age pollyannas. As Marcus Aurelius writes to himself:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.

Go with the flow.

These words, of course, possess their own meaning for you.

For me, at the core of my personal mythology and center to my very being, there exists this deep and abiding “sense of destiny“. As if it is all going, and has always been going, according to some plan.

This plan does not mean I live in some ivory tower, free from pain. It means that the pain is part of the plan. As a programmer and sci-fi-minded person, I would say that my experiences have “programmed me” – perfectly.

The other option would be to believe that my experiences have been at random and that I wasn’t destined to write this, to be who I am at this moment in order to.

As Einstein said:

There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.

Or, as Jung put it:

Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see.

Going with the flow is my eyes.

I lose my cellphone in my house before writing this: I’m not supposed to have it then. I walk around, stumble on an old journal in a box, and open it to a passage my soul needed to read tonight.

Whatever happens is supposed to happen. Maybe this is predetermined, my karma, I don’t know. I just know there is a flow to life – a plot if you will.

When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect.

— Schopenhauer

And the river of plot runs both ways: forwards and backwards.

As Jung writes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections:

When I was working on the stone tablets, I became aware of the fateful links between me and my ancestors. I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors. It often seems as if there were an impersonal karma within a family, which is passed on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which fate had posed to my forefathers, and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished.

So there is no resenting past, future, or present – this is not to say abandon yourself completely to wu-wei, but if you do, you are meant to.

Just as if you suffer some inner or outer situation willfully, and continue to, you are choosing to.

However, our pain usually ends up making sense – giving us meaning. It’s nonetheless difficult to endure, but I say aleap into trusting all of it. The pain too.

Leap into the wholeness of the flow. Release your assumptions about how things are supposed to be (Ego is the part of us that wants things to be or not to be a certain way).

Synchronistically, I’m listening to Van Morrison on shuffle via Alexa as I write this – he has a huge catalogue btw – and the song on now, he is singing:

On thing I’ve learned after all these years, you’re gong to save yourself a lot of tears….

You’ve got to roll with the punches. Man you’ve got to try and go with the flow.

We must. We really have no other choice when we think about it.

And I’m far from advocating passivity. I’m advocating receptivity.

This is a feminine principle. The Tao is feminine. Our western religions and ideas are very masculine. Our history is. But as we enter a new age, our thinking and our feeling can shift to a different state. One of allowing rather than controlling.

Jung writes in The Archetypes of The Collective Unconscious:

Emptiness is a great feminine secret. It is something absolutely alien to man; the chasm, the unplumbed depths, the yin.

The chasm; this is what Joe Campbell was telling us, same message:

A bit of advice
Given to a young Native American
At the time of his initiation:
As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm. Jump.
It is not as wide as you think.

We have to jump into the flow. You see, the chasm is not bottomless, waiting to spit us out: it’s waiting for us. We need only follow our bliss to find it.

Campbell again:

If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

And where there is bliss, there is flow. Where your flow is, there is your bliss. To borrow ‘flow’ from ‘go with the flow’ and apply it to the ‘flow-state’, we have a double meaning with a whole new level of depth.

My flow is in writing, reading, nature, exercising, dancing, singing, self-care, these are all flow spaces for me.

And while I wish I could exclusively apply myself to flow-activities, I’m not there yet. I still have obligations, spaces where I am having to push myself. But that’s flow too. It’s the yang to the yin. And we have to also direct the flow (of ENERGY).

We can’t just float lazily down the river of life. We are the authors of our stories. We have to swim against the tides too.

From Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

We must oppose our troubles. Life takes will. Life takes work. But often we are suffering from troubles that are really our own children, in that we have borne them in our minds – yet, were we to go with the flow and focus our energies on the true causes and effects of our lives, we might find a lot more power available to us.

Flow is focus. It’s focusing on the things that matter and accepting the things that don’t.

While none of us are Gods yet in a truly omnipotent sense, our Wills are nonetheless capable of directing flow now.

In the 1903 Self-help classic, As A Man Thinketh, James Allen tells us:

You will be what you will to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor word, ‘environment,’
But spirit scorns it and is free.

It masters time, it conquers space;
It cows that boastful trickster, Chance,
And bids the tyrant Circumstance
Uncrown and fill a servant’s place.

The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervens.

Be not inpatient in delay,
But wait as one who understands,
When spirit rises and commands,
The gods are ready to obey.

So, I implore you to “wait as one who understands” flow.

And when your spirit is ready to rise and command, things will begin to happen.

I think the problem is that we often want certainty. This is masculine thinking.

We need a balance of certainty AND trust in the uncertain. What we are talking about when we talk of leaping into the chasm or going with the flow, is entering the LIMINAL space. This is the threshold, the gap between what is and what WILL be.

In every rite of passage and throughout magic, witchcraft, alchemy, and shamanism, the liminal space is an important aspect of the transformation. Vital because it requires a trust in the unknown. I think of the liminal space as the necessary unknown. If you have taken a entheogen, you have been in the liminal space. You’ve leapt.

But a mushroom trip won’t make our dreams come true. We need a deeper, longer dive into the unknown.

This is a new year. It is the unknown. We are at the dawn of our desires, goals, and hopes for the year.

To reach them, we must go into the unknown, we must go with the flow.

It will carry us there.

If we can only trust It. This is the leap.

All we need do is trust ourselves, the universe, life.

Isn’t that what 2019 should be about? Flowing.

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the heartbeat of the universe.

— Joseph Campbell

No-Nut Level: God Mode Activated

This has been a fruitful season of my life. Full of growth:

  • I’ve learned to be truly alone and emotionally independent.
  • I’ve overcome fear, worry, self-doubt
  • I’ve come to agree full-stop with John Mayer, that “Drinking is a fucking con.”
  • I’ve finally quit my on-again, off-again relationship with organic American Spirits (‘But they’re organic!’).
  • I’ve gone from an ounce of Cannabis a week to nada.

And now, I’m going one step further. No-nut level. 

In the mainstream, you may have heard of it as “no-fap” (‘Fap’ being the sound produced when a man masturbates, as in, ‘fap, fap, fap’).

But there are levels to it.

I’m playing on ‘hard mode’ or ‘monk mode’, meaning: no climax, no ejaculation….

I’m actually on ‘god mode’, meaning nofap + meditation + exercise.

Now, I’m not writing this to brag, or to tell the world about my most personal proclivities, but, rather, I’m writing this – I’m doing this – because I believe it is an impactful decision.

Chastity is nothing new. The tradition of living a chaste life goes back to the ancient mystics, philosophers, sages, and adepts (Ascended masters, monks, yogis..).

Let me firstly say here that I have no moral judgements toward sex, self-pleasure, porn, or even sex-work. I am as liberal as any writer or poet before me.

This is not about morality or purity; for, there are those who choose to participate in no-fap or abstinence for those reasons, but I am not one of them.

My reasons for this experiment have nothing to do with any sort of moral high-ground, which for me, does not exist. Sex among willing adult participants, and all forms of harmless self-pleasure, are, to me, inherently natural. I honor the animalistic. I love having a ‘dirty’ mind. I’m a very sexual being. And I’m in no way making any sort of lifelong vow – trust me, I have plenty of plans for the future of my sex life… Grand, noble, exciting….

But, for now, I find myself alone in the mountains.

As an older guy up here said to me not too long ago: “The mountains AREN’T a great place to be single, but they ARE a great place to be alone.”

And I wholeheartedly agree. Frankly, I’m a non-binary liberal freak. I belong in SF or Oakland more than in this red-blooded Trump-loving county; I didn’t come here for the people. I came to live on the edge of the woods.

There’s a dirt-road behind my house. I write and work from home. I often have my groceries delivered. There are weeks I don’t really interact with a soul beyond visiting my 78 year-old neighbor, whose German Shepherd, ‘Einstein’, I often borrow for long walks among the pines.

I am living my Walden Pond life. This is the Chapter of The Forest. These are my years in the woods, as Joseph Campbell himself lived for five years alone, mentally nourished on nothing but books.

My focus is on writing my books, building my life, and producing the means to support the lifestyle I will live. And there is nothing more important than these missions, these tasks before me. My desires run deep. I hear them whisper their promises to me in the beat of my pulse.

Reflecting on my circumstances, it would seem as if I almost have no choice – but in the world of Tinder, there is always a choice. But as far as priorities go, it’s a good time to establish something:

I invested 10 years in relationships. And maybe it’s my own damn fault, for being full of faults, for the drunk nights, the terrible things I said – but I don’t even have a friend out of these relationships, save, perhaps, for Sarah – bless that noble witch and her golden heart. And maybe it’s just modern love. I’ll no doubt wrestle and reconcile these questions in my memoirs; I certainly hold no one responsible other than myself. I choose who I choose, and I was naive and put them on pedestals, and I devalued myself of my own accord. I thought my value would come from them. Let me tell you, such an approach is a fast-track to the depths of your own insecurities – you will fall on your face.

But the truth will set you free. And people are mirrors. They can only reflect back what is already there.

Also, I don’t think it will kill me to give dating, relationships, and sex a long, contemplative break. I’m sour on love besides. In short: appearances. Your stature in life will be viewed as tantamount to your character (Because people appraise themselves no less shallowly). People simply care more about stupid shit, appearances, and what those around them think, more than they can admit – even to themselves. We are, in the end, pack animals, nothing but a troupe of monkeys, willing to do almost anything for acceptance from our perceived in-groups, from ourselves. Call it survival. That’s what it is. If you don’t believe me, ask a bum how his love life is. We’re a long way from fairy tales. And the hero, the one who gets the girl, is never quite a loser.

My advice: pay more attention to what is between a person’s ears than what you think is in their heart. That matters to me more at this point than what’s between their legs. I am, of course, speaking to the few like myself, for whom love has been an eye opening game, yet remain the true romantics, but I digress…

Musings on love aside, I didn’t embark on this no-nut journey because I am sick of love, sex, or even the fantastic variety of VR porn now available, which turns even an iPhone screen into a POV window into a new world.

I’m doing this because I think there is something to it.

I am not one for god: I believe in the Will. That which affects this shared field of energy called reality.

And I know that drugs, addictions, anything that drains our dopamine, saps our Wills.

And the worst kind of addictions will break a person’s Will entirely.

But when we strengthen the Will, when we exercise self-discipline, we balance out our dopamine levels, and instead of blowing our wad, so to speak, we have motivation and discipline to do things. And that’s what this is about, I want more motivation and discipline to do the things I want to do.

I quit smoking weed cold-turkey and read four books in two days – in the same time I would have been baked AF before.

When you quit treating your mind like an amusement park, life gets better.

This is about self-mastery, release from suffering. Freedom from desire. And the empowerment of channeling my most raw, potent energy into my Will.

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.” ― Aristotle

Now, what I loathe to get into is the science behind it – namely, because I am doing this on my own intuition, and, because that shit is boring.

But, to be lazy, here are a few images that tell part of the story:

If you’re personally interested in practicing some form of nofap or semen retention, I recommend you just go to youtube and educate yourself, and read through the comments for the anecdotal evidence. Because, truth is, there aren’t a ton of studies showing the benefits. As one commenter said, “Illuminati want to keep us down.”

If you will allow me to put on my tinfoil hat for a moment. Just imagine that the system wants wage slaves. So, they push alcohol, weed, porn, all these things that are going to reduce your personal power, your kundalini, the energy in your chakras. And these habits, this lifestyle of common mediocrity, is going to make you dependent upon the system.

The empire doesn’t want Jedis.

And, it’s lonely at the top because it’s a narrow road to get there. Few believe they even have the self-control. I personally just happen to know I have an indomitable Will. I can kind of do anything. And with the lifestyle changes I am making, their impact on my psyche, energy, and neurochemistry is going to show itself in my achievements, in my wellbeing. I already have a dope diet. I’m already lean. Now I’ll be lean and mean.

And there have been countless examples of men throughout history who have made the choice to play life on no-nut level.

Steve Jobs was said to practice semen retention, after he returned from India and had learned of tantric practices.

As one of his ex girlfriends explained:

“Our birth control method up to that point was Steve’s coitus interruptus, also called the pull-out method, which for him was about his conserving his energy for work,’ she wrote. He explained that he didn’t want to climax so he could build ‘power and wealth by conserving one’s vital energies.”

A long time ago, I first read a book called ‘Think and Grow Rich’. In it, there is a cryptic chapter entitled, ‘The Power of Sex Transmutation’. The author writes:

Sex desire is the most powerful of human desires. When driven by this desire, men develop keenness of imagination, courage, will-power, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them at other times. So strong and impelling is the desire for sexual contact that men freely run the risk of life and reputation to indulge it. When harnessed, and redirected along other lines, this motivating force maintains all of its attributes of keenness of imagination, courage, etc., which may be used as powerful creative forces in literature, art, or in any other profession or calling, including, of course, the accumulation of riches.

Point is, there have been many intelligent people who have believed in the power of conserving the vital life force. Two that come to mind are Nikkola Tesla and Michaelangelo. Also Plato. Heavyweights.

We get one life. So often I feel like we cheat ourselves in search of temporary pleasures, and in doing so, we hobble our chances at greatness. We’re rewarding ourselves with bullshit, fake activities.

So, look, what is the harm in what I am doing? What is the harm in abstaining here? Obviously, I don’t think there is any. I think the benefits are clear, and potentially massive.

And, thankfully, I’m not letting some non-existent girlfriend of mine suffer, but even so, I could easily please a partner without breaking my own resolve here.

If you have a chance in life to master yourself, take it. It’s almost something that once achieved stays with you.

And I know I can’t just read books and write. I’m not a machine for a singular action. I have to keep augmenting my habits with other healthy activities. Walks, hikes, pushups, pullups, workouts, meditation, yoga, breath work, goal-setting, self-talk, mental rehearsal (envisioning), and on.

In the words of, ‘Mystic Mac’, Connor McGregor, I want to be a “freight-train”, ‘straight to the top’.

If this gives me an edge, which I have no doubt it is already doing, then I’m happy to give up something so insignificant in the big picture of things.

Not to say sex is insignificant, in-fact, I think it’s probably the temple doorway, so to speak, and the union of two souls is the promise of Eden, but I’ve got shit to do. And I’m not going to waste my chi, my lifeforce on fleeting thoughts (pun intended).

And, to close on a lighter note, here are some nofap memes:

And if you need some more motivation, check out reddit.com/nofap

“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.” ― Thucydides

Godspeed my fellow fapstronauts.

Courting Your Fate

I have to write a bit; this is where I program myself, where I reflect back what I am.

And I’m moving into the life I believe I deserve.

I recently took a quantum leap and faced my deepest fears. Up and to dying. And that was the one I accepted. And it made all the difference.

No more fear, no more stress.

A song I have liked, by FC Kahuna, came on tonight – it is a song I used to enjoy listening to during a long, comforting bath.

But as I listened to the lyrics tonight, I was no longer soothed by the song:

“Don’t think about everything you fear,
Just be glad to be here.”

And tonight, I thought, well, there’s nothing I fear any longer – and were there, I would want to face it: immediately. See through whatever it was in my mind. And overcome it, knowing I am strong enough – for whatever.

Stress and fear are the same.

They are simply beliefs that we don’t possess the requisite inner resources to handle an outer situation. And that becomes an inner situation. Stress and fear are terrible masters.

And both can be faced with the same omnipotent inner courage: knowing.

And if you believe you can handle it, you can. Simple as that.

You need no complex truths. Just self-knowledge of inner strength, worth, and abundant inner resources. You are enough.

And if you can gain this oneupmanship over your mind, you’re free. Trust me. I am liberated.

And if you’re reading this, you’re probably close to liberation too. Consciousness is a breath we all draw. And I am the first to be mentally and emotionally free in generations. Evolution. We are all part of a personal, social, familial pattern called culture. And if a writer in your generation, me, is free – in light of the wild matrix that is the collective – well, chances are you can, will be free to.

It’s a choice we have.

To spend our lives in fear and stress, or to know we will die – so much so that there is nothing to fear.

Shakespeare wrote about it:

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard.
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.”

– Shakespeare, Julius Cesar

(Act II, Scene II, Line 32)

My friends. Fear not. This is all temporary. One long movie, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Reading all this. Knowing this. You’ll overcome the fear and the stress. The truth always sets us free.

And when you are free from fear, you are no longer controllable. Not by the past, not by the future, not by the present, not by self-esteem, not by who you worship, or who you have worshipped, or who has hurt you, or how you have hurt yourself. You’re free.

Then you’re left with the next important choice:

What do I want to do while I Am here?

And once you decide what you truly want – at your deepest and most authentic level – once you start writing the movie of your life, designing your experience, consciously choosing your path, deciding your reality, then you have to believe in it.

Another leap of faith. But it’s the same as getting over fear. It’s simply knowing that you are capable. And beyond that, knowing you are worthy of the feelings, of the things you desire.

Own it. Whatever it is you want in your life, own it. Don’t just pass the time. Don’t just survive. Don’t just accept what is. Admit to yourself exactly what you want. And know, you’ll never give up on it. And don’t let go of that vision. Sharpen it. Focus it. Keep it in the front of your mind. See it before your eyes.

Because that is the key. Knowing you have it. Everyone will tell you this. You have to visualize it. You have to see it. And most importantly, you have to feel it.

No doubts. Utter confidence. The feelings that give you the courage to jump in.

You have to have the nerve. And you have to know it is always yours. You are what you seek: what you seek seeks you.

This is the law of vibration. Believe in it or not – but it is the choice of believing in your mind or not. Your mind creates your reality. Trust me, happy people think good thoughts. People full of love are loving. Warm people are warm. Be what you want to be and accept nothing less.

Raise the quality of your thoughts to meet you. Don’t wait until you feel better or you never will. Decide to feel better. And feel better. And if you do not, face whatever barriers are within you. You can overcome all of them. There is always someone who has overcome more than you.

I am rewriting my story.

I have not known hard. Ever. I have only made it hard on myself. I have only not known any better. I have only not known there was someone within me as strong as anyone who has ever lived. I have only ever doubted myself. I have only ever been afraid. I have only ever been scared. I have only ever pushed people away. I have only ever pitied myself. I have only ever self-destructed on my own volition.

But now I know. All the failures were signposts. And it has all only ever served me – even if only today, only if in hindsight. And my failures in life are the most powerful, invaluable proofs of the power of my thoughts, my feelings.

And I haven’t been an Alpha in a long time.

But today, I believe in myself. I am above my fears and worries. They are melting away. As they arise. As I face them. And this is a great power.

Now I see the pearl that I am. And I wonder. What is the dirt, what is the shame, what are the wounds that pearl has formed around?

Because now I want to know myself. My inner child. My inner feminine. I have found my way back to me. Back home, to a place I will never depart from. And I understand that I was apart from myself for a long time. I let another own my worth, and when I fell in their estimation, I fell in my own, and when I fell in my own estimation, I only fell further in theirs.

I used to let my thoughts sink all the way to the bottom. And I did. I have a full, rich life behind me. One full of beautiful things loved and lost. Things I took for granted. Myself most of all.

Didn’t know my worth. My worth (Not what someone else thinks). So I was ashamed and afraid. Hid my faults from myself in denial and inner conflict. Had no means to know the value of my mistakes. Had no art, no perspective to appreciate all my pain, to love my wounds.

And now, life is further opening up.

And I get to use everything for my art. Every vice and virtue. And all of my gratitude, love, and humility.

It is not only okay to be different, it is beneficial. What makes you different is what the world needs. What makes you different are your gifts. Don’t conform in ways that bury who you are.

If you want to live the life uncommon, you have to be uncommon, you have to lead an uncommon life. And you have to walk an unconventional path. But it’s your’s. Let it be familiar. Love it. Honor it. Nurture it.

And just hold the vision of what you want as a belief – as if it were already done.

Consciousness is very telling.

If you think you need advice, you do. If you think you need some grand ego death and awakening, and some psychedelic trip to give you the answer that’s going to make it all click, then you do.

And if you think you have all the answers to your inner questions, then you’ll have them.

My point is, stop looking outside of yourself. You’ll search forever that way.

Trust your inner self. Trust your inner child. Trust your inner wise old man. Trust your truths. Trust that you can be honest with yourself about how you feel. And trust that you can know yourself.

Be with yourself. Put the phone / tv / etc distractions down and listen to yourself. Dialogue with yourself. Ask yourself how you are. And let yourself answer. You’ll probably find things about your needs that you are repressing for whatever reason. And then you can learn to be there for yourself. Because you need you.

And you no longer fear. And you believe in what you want. And you envision it and feel it. And you face what arises in conflict with it. And you declare yourself to be what you are, wholly committed to becoming it.

And you stay focused and take small actions daily. And you check in with yourself. And you are honest with yourself. And patient. Because you can’t wait to have it to feel good. In fact, you know that the better you feel, the more you will have. So you cultivate habits that support your feeling good. Because you know it is all about self-love, self-care, and self-respect. Living true to yourself, within your vision. Never without it. Enter it. Penetrate it. Pierce it. Touch it. Become one with it. Let your vision be your beloved. Know it. Love it. Court it.

Be the suitor of your fate until it is here. Until then: know it is yours.

Loomings: My Life and Dreams

I come here for pharmakon, the healing act of writing: I need it as I’m rediscovering myself as an adult, seeing my light and dark in their full brilliance. And, really, I just want to trust myself, that I will follow my inner voice.

Fear can make people do funny things. It’s made me forget myself, shy from deepest dreams, and do things I hate – for far. too. long.

This is the beauty of being overwhelmed. This is the beauty of feeling like you don’t want to carry on in this way. This is the call to go into the wild again; for, often, in our quest to stay within our comfort zones, we end up massively, painfully uncomfortable.

Anyone who has worked hard to pay their bills month in and month out, and has woken up miserable one day, and asked themselves, ‘Why the fuck am I doing this?’, knows exactly what I am talking about.

I am reminded of the opening to Moby Dick, in the appropriately titled first chapter, ‘Loomings’:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago–never mind how long precisely –having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off–then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

It is a damp, drizzly November in my soul.

And though I ran off “to sea” after high school by joining the Navy, it is surprising I – who loved ships and men and sailing as a child – ended up a fucking pale computer nerd rather than a salt-tanned sailor. But there is still time. I’m just ready to get out of my “comfort zone” – or perhaps it’s just changing. But this is no longer comfortable.

I have made myriad mistakes in life. In-fact, I have gotten very few things right.

Books. Writing. The Ocean. These are my original loves. These are the places where I am my own again. Where I am whole and home.

Frankly, the most challenging thing about these 2.5 years I’ve spent in the mountains has not been the isolation, but the people.

As a non-binary liberal, I’m just not in a place where I am very accepted, much less all that welcome.

Yet here I am. In my house full of books. Alone. And it almost works. But it doesn’t.

Perhaps if I didn’t work. If I were only writing. That would work. Only, I work – a ton – and way too hard, for way too little.

I ended up in the same trade as my father: building websites. And I fucking hate it. Firstly, spending an obscene amount of time hunched over a screen is not natural.

In the words of Mystic Mac (Connor McGregor), “Machines don’t use machines.”

He is speaking about the naturalness of using body weight or free weight exercises, which have made him a “machine”, like a Jaguar, lean and powerful, as opposed to the unnatural nature of using “machines” in the gym, which will never turn one into a true machine. So, “machines don’t use machines.”

And I think about that. How much I would love if the only time I sat at my desk was to write. Rather than the up till now arrangement where I spent long, unrewarding workdays staring at a screen, punching keys. It’s very 1984.

Society is, after all, an incredibly shrewd machine, designed to spit out the lowest paying work for you – and in exchange for all of your time, society gives you the bare basics: a roof, food. We: the grinding gears of capitalism. Ground up and spit out.

It’s called a “rat race” as a takeaway from a laboratory experiment, in which two rats race each other for a piece of cheese. But they have used so much energy, the cheese isn’t even really worth its calories.

Sound familiar?

Life can really be like this. How the fuck do we work for years sometimes with nothing to show for it? Bad decisions. Maybe. But it’s also just the system. You are racing against all the other rats for the same cheese.

And if you are, say, an artist, cheese may not even be your goal. Your art is. So, now you have another problem: time.

Only, the time equation is compounded with another: stress, discontentment; any artist not practicing their craft knows the reality of these feelings.

So, now you’re basically living a life that is very ill-suited to your nature, your temperament, and your talent. It may even be contrary to those things.

It hurts. Trust me.

And so, here we are.

I’ve wanted to just work through it. I’ve wanted to “beat this level,” so to speak.

And I still feel like I have to.

The New York Times has an interesting piece about escaping the office for hands on work, and one of the most interesting lines is this:

Matthew Crawford, a senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia and the author of the 2015 book “The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction,” sees good sense at work among those who leave office jobs for something more concrete-seeming. The reason? Much white-collar work has become similar to assembly-line work, comprising a series of mindless tasks.

Ding ding! Bingo.

The mindlessness of programming along with the mental bandwidth required simply just aren’t worth it. Then where is left my energy to write? I’m brain dead after. Forget time to read….

As was said of one person in the article above, who left graphic design for stone masonry, as he was being “driven mad by the monotony of moving fonts around on a screen and designing restaurant menus.”

“I was giving myself up all those years to this idea that graphic design was my only choice,” Mr. Kelley said. “I went to college for it. And it really emotionally brought me down.”

Brother, I get it. I suspect many people in desk jobs get it. I don’t want to escape a desk job, I want to escape the “oppressive computermatron.” I want to spend my time writing prose, not code.

I’m reminded of Jack London’s wonderful novel, Martin Eden, in which Martin, trying to become a writer, gets a job at a high volume laundry:

But there was little time in which to marvel.  All Martin’s consciousness was concentrated in the work.  Ceaselessly active, head and hand, an intelligent machine, all that constituted him a man was devoted to furnishing that intelligence.  There was no room in his brain for the universe and its mighty problems.  All the broad and spacious corridors of his mind were closed and hermetically sealed. 

Here, the main character faces the same problem I now have.

But it was only at rare moments that Martin was able to think.  The house of thought was closed, its windows boarded up, and he was its shadowy caretaker.  He was a shadow. 

As his boss tells him:

“Rest.  You don’t know how tired you are.  Why, I’m that tired Sunday I can’t even read the papers.  I was sick once—typhoid.  In the hospital two months an’ a half.  Didn’t do a tap of work all that time.  It was beautiful.”

“It was beautiful,” he repeated dreamily, a minute later.

Oh, how I can relate. My own Yung Lean style breakdown early this year afforded me a similar escape from work.

But Martin Eden gets no escape, so he drinks:

He forgot, and lived again, and, living, he saw, in clear illumination, the beast he was making of himself—not by the drink, but by the work.  The drink was an effect, not a cause.  It followed inevitably upon the work, as the night follows upon the day.  Not by becoming a toil-beast could he win to the heights, was the message the whiskey whispered to him, and he nodded approbation.  The whiskey was wise.  It told secrets on itself.

And finally, he decides to chuck it in:

By God, I think you’re right!  Better a hobo than a beast of toil.  Why, man, you’ll live.  And that’s more than you ever did before.”

And he quits, resolved to go to sea:

At first, Martin had done nothing but rest.  He had slept a great deal, and spent long hours musing and thinking and doing nothing.  He was like one recovering from some terrible bout of hardship.  The first signs of reawakening came when he discovered more than languid interest in the daily paper.  Then he began to read again—light novels, and poetry; and after several days more he was head over heels in his long-neglected Fiske.  His splendid body and health made new vitality, and he possessed all the resiliency and rebound of youth.

Ruth showed her disappointment plainly when he announced that he was going to sea for another voyage as soon as he was well rested.

“Why do you want to do that?” she asked.

“Money,” was the answer.  “I’ll have to lay in a supply for my next attack on the editors.  Money is the sinews of war, in my case—money and patience.”

“But if all you wanted was money, why didn’t you stay in the laundry?”

“Because the laundry was making a beast of me.  Too much work of that sort drives to drink.”

She stared at him with horror in her eyes.

“Do you mean—?” she quavered.

It would have been easy for him to get out of it; but his natural impulse was for frankness, and he remembered his old resolve to be frank, no matter what happened.

“Yes,” he answered.  “Just that.  Several times.”

She shivered and drew away from him.

“No man that I have ever known did that—ever did that.”

“Then they never worked in the laundry at Shelly Hot Springs,” he laughed bitterly.  “Toil is a good thing.  It is necessary for human health, so all the preachers say, and Heaven knows I’ve never been afraid of it.  But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and the laundry up there is one of them.  And that’s why I’m going to sea one more voyage.  It will be my last, I think, for when I come back, I shall break into the magazines.  I am certain of it.”

She was silent, unsympathetic, and he watched her moodily, realizing how impossible it was for her to understand what he had been through.

“Some day I shall write it up—‘The Degradation of Toil’ or the ‘Psychology of Drink in the Working-class,’ or something like that for a title.”

Oh, yes, Jack London, I understand your Martin Eden well. Too well.

So, my desk job, programming, is my laundry, and the degradation of toil has taken its toll on me.

Only, I don’t see myself running off to sea. I moved here, to the mountains, to write. Only, two years supporting us before we broke up, and I worked a lot and wrote little. Now I have been alone four months, and there has been no big magic. Just more toil. More degradation.

But, alas, wherever you go there you are.

I have never lived anywhere two and a half years as an adult. And I don’t just want to run away; although, I miss my family deeply, having come to realize recently that I have not been there for them: the most important people in my life.

So, here I am. And it’s very uncomfortable.

I’m 33 and still figuring out how to make it work.

As part of my personal mythology, I have come to view technology as a kind of enslavement. An uncaring machine focused only on your output. As a futurist, I lean towards neo-Luddite views.

The Luddites arose in response to the rise of machines in factories in the early 19th century. Eccentric weaver Ned Ludd smashed his loom and became a folk hero. Other workers rose up, calling themselves “Luddites.” And soon factory owners were having Luddites shot, and military force finally stopped the movement.

So, a neo-Luddite, is one who is opposed to technology on moral grounds.

As someone who has wasted years of my life writing code, with nothing to show for my work, no freedom, I can’t help but feel pulled toward wanting to smash my own machines (When I had my breakdown, I did, in-fact, smash my laptop).

But the house of cards rose up again, and I am yet hounded via email and text, by my clients 7 days a week.

And I thought I could balance it. Thought I could just work hard, wake early, and write.

After having revisited Martin Eden, I feel like this goal of intellectual work / writing duality and balance is less and less realistic.

I only have so much bandwidth and the toil takes its toll. So, what am I to do?

Well, I’m here tonight, spending my Saturday night on this. This entry is an alchemical effort for me to see what I need to see.

It’s just so difficult to escape our own matrices. I thought I could gain healthy self-esteem by paying my bills. I thought I would gain my own respect and feel solid. But I feel like Bukowski, after ten arduous, soul-crushing years in the post office:

“I have one of two choices—stay in the post office and go crazy . . . or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.”

I think there is something noble in that.

Of course, I have already starved. And it wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t losing my shit and smashing my laptop.

Of course, there is the question of living. I don’t think I want to go sleep on a park bench. That’s not what my soul needs.

But I need to do something to escape the laundry, the toil and the toll.

If I were less of an introvert, I would have taken up roommates long ago. I have a 3 bedroom and live alone, but I am not much for living with others. Especially having lived with others so much in my 20s.

Taking back the means of production by building a business makes sense, only, my last two business did not succeed – despite how much I believed in them and the countless hours I put into them. So, I returned to building websites. Only, you suddenly become an employee with multiple bosses. Pulled apart in all sorts of directions, with a 24 hour workload that never actually ends. There is no, “Okay boss, we completed the tile job.” No, websites are never done.

I do have a business I want to build, and perhaps this is my last chance to try and regain control of the machine. As one youtuber said, “You have to sacrifice to regain the means of production.”

Starting a business qualifies. Also, writing books. Only, there is no promise of recompense with books. Only a firm sense of destiny. Although, there is neither promise of success with a business.

My plan has been to build this business as a means to “own my time”.

And maybe I just need to go once more into the fray. Frankly, I’m not sure I have it in me. I have been basically building websites now for the last nine years.

And I’ve had my stories ready to write for the last six. And I only nearly have one finished. And there are far bigger, more exciting stories I have to tell.

So, what am I to do? Let it all fall down around me? I have done that. Seems to be a pattern after each of my breakups. I am not interested in repeating the past any further. I get it: I need to be by myself.

I’m just in pain over my work. The stress of it. Clients expecting me to jump on the phone and spend my Saturday working. Total bullshit. And I did it to myself. Because I wanted to pay my goddamn bills.

And really, money is the root of it. I have to work in accordance to my demands. And, as I have already said, I moved here to lower them. Only, it didn’t work. I couldn’t support S and the dogs by myself. But god did I try. She knows how hard I worked.

Only, I struggled. And struggle will end most modern relationships. It’s simply too easy to find someone else. And the world is larger than ever before. If we only had 10% of the current world’s population on earth today, we would still have more people on earth than we did in the 1700s. What I’m saying is: in three-hundred years, the world’s population has exploded tenfold.

So, I think that, existentially, we live in an incredibly challenging time of rapid change. Humans never had these problems. And change is so rapid today, that we cannot even imagine the world five-hundred years from now, or even fifty years from now. I grew up before cell-phones. Soon, the phone will dematerialize into the user, as the UI becomes a part of us. And inequality will only get worse. But the system seems to work. Give them cell-phones, cars, Netflix, legal weed, Amazon / Wal-Mart, and in exchange, they’ll give you most of their waking hours. This is most of us. And if you think you’re special or somehow outside of this, you may have had some advantages…

Where we are born and who our parents are determines much of our trajectory in life. I was born to poor parents and in no way intend to continue that cycle with my own potential children. But a lot of people do, they have kids in lives they don’t like, and they essentially relegate their offspring to similar fates.

If you think I’m being too fatalistic, I recommend you take a good hard look at the world and the different class strata. People are simply born on different levels. Not to say you can’t “rise” – you can, and you can certainly “fall,” but it takes much more work to rise than to fall.

To rise, we need to establish a few things:

1. You will die, so don’t fear taking chances.

2. The means of production must be taken back from the masters (Meaning, you have to start a business or a means to produce something you can sell, rather than selling yourself or your time).

3. Your means must passively cover your expenses in order to free up your time to do what you love.

Imagine how many successes there are because select people were free to do what they loved… look at the bios of your favorite artistic heroes, there is even a classist ceiling there. The point isn’t that life is unfair, but that you need to give yourself the opportunity to succeed.

Look at my situation, I have tried and failed to give myself the opportunity to succeed as a writer. I’m still seeking out the opportunity. As any wage slave knows, you rent yourself out and do not own your own time, meaning, you don’t really own yourself. Hence, you have ‘masters’ (“clients” / “supervisors” ) and are not the master of yourself.

If you love what you are doing, this is not necessarily a problem. But if you loathe what you do, oh boy, you’re in some deep shit. And this is not a good place to be, because our time here is limited. The clock is running.

So, this the perfect time to think long and hard about dying:

Imagine you know you are dying. What do you want to do? Probably sure as shit not what you’re doing. You probably want to be with family, friends, lovers. Now imagine you’re dying and you never changed, never did what you loved. How much do you regret it, now that your time is up? ‘Immensely’ wouldn’t even begin to describe it. And if you could go back and change your life, you would.

But you can. There is yet still time.

So, what are you going to do Lawrence?

Well, once more into the fray.

I’ll put my heart and soul into the two difficult projects I have on my plate now and finish up with them (November)

I’ll beef up my portfolio and sell 2-3 large projects. (Dec-Feb).

I’ll then use a month to build the means of production to reclaim my time (AI based lead gen).

Provided this last step works, I’ll own my time.

From here, I need to decide where I am moving – the mountains are serving their purpose but it has been a self-imposed exile of sorts, and I miss my family.

I had been planning to move to LA, which I think will suit me, but I know it will only suit me provided I spend some time each month in San Diego as well.

This is big stuff but I have to see it in my mind’s eye. The third eye.

Where romantic love was once the impetus of my actions in life, those emotions have since been blunted in the face of knowing that no one can love me more than I love myself. And getting the relationship right with me will pave the way for any future romantic journeys.

My family is really important to me. And right now, I hear Churchill’s words:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

A younger me would cast off the lines and “go to sea”, so to speak, but I owe myself my most dogged determination toward my vision. What I laid out above is not a new plan. It’s my vision, and I think it will work.

It just seems to me that there is something to being closer than you think.

There are going to be obstacles. There are still unknowns that need to be resolved.

There could be a setback or two. But I can’t throw in the towel. My first tattoo was ‘n.g.u.’: never give up. I can’t think that is without significant meaning. If I gave up on my vision, who would I be: I wouldn’t be me.

But I’ll be damned if I pass the time idly and am still a servant to the oppressive computermatron a year from now. I’m too damn old and life’s too damn short.

I just watched ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ again, a movie that is deep to my personal myth, as significant as is ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’.

One of the functions of myth is to teach us to survive, and how to live a life, and what to expect.

To me, the most poignant part of Benjamin Button is this scene:

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

And I want to live a life I am proud of.

And if I find that I’m not, I want to have the courage to start all over again.

I know the big goals I have for my fiction. Those will not change. How I get there, however, may.

Some Reddit Gold (Motivational, Life Advice)

What follows is something I came across on Reddit. Per one of the comments, I am taking the liberty to republish it here. It will only take you a few minutes to read and I’m positive everyone can glean something of value from it. Of particular interest to me are the ideas about Dopamine and it’s role in motivation, and how we can influence it and positively manage it. Also, Flow Activities. And lastly, what the author write about getting on a healthy sleep schedule is correct: wake and eat early, stay up, repeat. So much good stuff here. Without further ado, enjoy:

[METHOD] How I went from rock bottom to disciplined in 6 months.

Hi, I wish to share my journey of getting disciplined. I hope you will take something away from this :). I would like to mention that I’m not a native English speaker, so forgive me for any grammar and/or spelling mistakes.

TLDR; Build positive habits on a foundation of willpower, not motivation.

Start reading non-fiction and apply it in your life. Work on your physiology, it should be the foundation for productivity and discipline.

Lessen the amount of superstimuli in your life to get more dopamine (motivation).

Flow activities should be the goal in life, not mind numbing pleasure.

Start a bullet journal where you color code all activities you do each day positive or negative.

It all started when I realized I had hit rock bottom. I was getting up at 3pm everyday. Only ate junkfood, lay in bed watching YouTube and smoking a lot of weed. My room was always a complete mess. I completely disregarded my study while I was living of a study loan. Every night I would hang out with a friend who would do the same and we’d smoke weed and watch screens until about 5 am. It really was rock bottom. This went on for a long time until I saw I had to change my life.

HABIT BUILDING

I read a book called The Slight Edge. The idea of the book was that with consistent, incremental improvement, anyone could reach anything. It also debunked the idea of a ‘quantum leap’, which at first I believed in. I liked the idea and started implementing it to form positive habits in my life. I started with nofap, meditation, reading, cleaning and some more. I made a lot of mistakes when I first started out. So some advice on habit building I have accumulated is this:

DON’T TRUST MOTIVATION. Motivation is good if it’s there but it shouldn’t be the foundation of the habits you create. Why? because motivation isn’t always there, and when it’s gone you also lose the habits that you build on top of it. I experienced this a lot of times. I would have a streak of 100+ days meditation, miss 3 days and completely give up until I had the motivation again to start over.

So how can I build habits then? Do it based on willpower. The big difference is not to say to yourself “I’m gonna read 20 pages every day because I’m so motivated to gain knowledge.” But that you say “I’m going force myself to start reading everyday because I will have enough willpower to always do that.”

The key is that if you make the requirement so small that you can always do it, you will never fail. So doing for example 1 pushup everyday. You will never fail that requirement. But if you have very little motivation one day and think about doing 20 pushups, it just seems intimidating and you don’t do it.

Some people might say “only starting to read or doing 1 push up will never get me anywhere.” And I agree, but the thing is that you can do more. And you will usually do more. Once you forced yourself, with willpower, to get into push up position and do 1 push up, you’ll probably think “I can do one more, and one more” and so on. Same for reading, once you’ve forced yourself to sit in a chair with a book and started reading, you wont stop after just 1 word. You will do a lot more than the initial requirement more times then not. It will also give you a sense of “I did this”. Especially if your requirement is, say, 1 push up, and you do 10. You will have done 9 extra. As opposed to when you require yourself to do 20 and do 10. You will have done 10 too little.

Try it right now, force yourself on the ground to do one push up. I’m sure you have the willpower to do that.

The key is to make the requirement so small you will never fail it. Build the habit on a foundation of willpower, if motivation comes along, that’s great.

READING

The one habit that has done the most for my life is to read non-fiction. I bought an e-reader and started to read daily. I recommend buying an e-reader a lot. Here are some of the benefits:

– Very portable, whenever I’m in public transport I pull it out and read some pages.

– Buying books is instant and you can read anything you’d like

– If you have little money there are a lot of places where you can download ebooks for free

– It has a backlight, so you can read in your bed, lying on your side, in the dark. Most come with blue light filters as well.

Some of the benefits of reading non-fiction

– You can learn directly from great people

– There are books on anything that you find interesting (for me it’s psychology)

– There are a lot of self-help books on the market that will give you advice that you can practically apply in your life.

I’m sure there are a lot more, but for the sake of not writing a book as a post this will do.

I think the most important thing as a prerequisite for discipline is good physiology. If you aren’t feeling good it’s hard to do things that would count as disciplined behavior. So that’s why I would recommend reading some books about physiology.

Books that have had a profound impact on my life are; Mini habits, Meet Your Happy Chemicals, The HeartMath Solution, The Willpower Instinct, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and Awareness Through Movement.

If your read all these books you will learn; how to create healthy habits in your life without making it hard; how your brain chemicals work; how to instantly lower stress and deal with negative thought and emotion, how willpower works, why it matters and how to get more of it; how orgasm induces neurochemical brain changes for 2 weeks and how it’s evolutionary designed to break romantic relationships; what a flow experience is, and why it should be the goal for all activities in life to turn into one; that everyone stops progressing in the most basic things like breathing, posture etc. because only the minimal in life is needed to get on, it also provides lessons on how to improve these parts of life.

Gaining knowledge in this field will give you the ability to make the changes in your life that will benefit your overall feeling. Feeling good overall, in your body and mind, is required for doing productive things.

DOPAMINE

I’m a psychology student so when I got into self help I was naturally interested in the brain’s place in self improvement.

Dopamine is the key player here. Most people think dopamine is responsible for ‘pleasure’. This is a big misunderstanding. Dopamine is actually responsible for ‘wanting’ and motivation.

When the dopamine part of the brain was first discovered, it was discovered in rats. The researchers hooked up a lever to the rats’ dopamine circuit to shock the dopamine circuit (mimicking dopamine release) whenever the rats would pull the lever. The rats soon ignored anything else and only pulled the lever until they died of starvation and fatigue. Next the researchers (this one is a bit cruel) would have 2 levers on the opposite sides of a cage that would produce a ‘dopamine hit’ if pressed after the other. To make it interesting they put an electrically charged grid in between that would give the rats a painful shock if they walked over it. So now the rats would have to cross the grid every time they wanted another ‘dopamine hit’. Shockingly (lol) the rats would run across it until they burned of their legs and couldn’t walk anymore. The researchers concluded from these experiments that this dopamine circuit was responsible for creating pleasure. Nowadays this is proved to be wrong and the actual function of the dopamine circuit is believed to be wanting and motivation.

Most things people like to do give a lot of dopamine (much more than anything would have given in nature). Things like watching TV (or netflix), internet, drugs, processed foods, porn, gambling and videogames. Things that give us a lot of dopamine tend to be addicting. No wonder I was only smoking, watching screens and lying in bed when I hit rock bottom.

Now, why should you care? The reason is very simple. Exposure to high dopamine for longer periods of time REDUCES DOPAMINE RECEPTORS. Lower dopamine receptors give you lower motivation, lower concentration and less mental sharpness. With there being a lot of supernaturally high dopamine giving activities and substances available to us we should all be aware in what amount we should consume them. This is the reason why there are more college and university dropouts more than ever before. Why so many people are unhappy at work. And why there are more cases of depression than ever before (depression is linked to lower dopamine).

Big companies know about this and use it to sell us as much as possible and keep them on their platforms for longer. They put the exact amount of sugar in all foods so that we like it the most, they design their platforms so you stay on them a lot (Facebook and Instagram), they implement gambling into games so that we play them more (Fortnite).

So what to take away from all this? Lessen the amount of activities you do each day that give you a lot of dopamine and don’t add anything to your life. This will give you a natural amount of dopamine receptors again and will make it a lot easier to stay concentrated while reading or learning an instrument for example.

FLOW ACTIVITIES

1 book that has made a profound impact on my life is the book Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience. The idea of the book is that there are certain activities that for which your brain needs 100% of it’s power to be focused on the activity. This is when you reach a ‘Flow state’. In this state you lose the idea of the self, you lose track of time and are only focused on the task at hand. For example when you drive somewhere and you get there and don’t remember how you got there.

Flow occurs when your skill matches the challenge of the activity. When your skill is too high, you will be bored, when the challenge is too high you will be anxious.

The key idea from this book, for me, was the difference between pleasure and enjoyment. Pleasure activities are ones that give the high amount of dopamine. Whereas enjoyable activities also give dopamine, but also make you better at the task and will often produce a state of Flow. Enjoyment produces growth, pleasure does not.

I think that any activity in life that is not a pure pleasure activity can be made into a flow activity. It’s one of my goals in life to fill my day with enjoyable activities. It made me realize I wanted to fill my day with making music and reading, not with smoking and watching TV.

JOURNALING

One of the best habits I have build is journaling. More specifically bullet journaling. I’m not sure if this is the official way to do it but this is what I do and what works for me.

People pay coaches a lot of money to do something they can do themselves as well; give feedback. All a coach does is tell you what you’ve done, and where you can improve. This is something you can do yourself easily by bullet journaling.

My method: I have a simple notebook where I use the left and right page for 1 day. In the morning I write down some things I want to do that day on the left page. If there are things I wanted to do yesterday I write them down for today. I also write a bit about how I feel. Recently I’ve been doing some affirmations as well on that page. You can skip this entire left page, I personally like it, but I can understand how it’s a bit much for some people. You could also experiment with it and change it up how you like it.

The real magic (and the reason I made the coach analogy) is on the right page. Here is where I write down every influential activity I do. I won’t write down things like ‘have breakfast’ or ‘short chat with roommate’. I write down everything that has a positive or a negative meaning (some things are neutral like doing groceries). Then at the end of the day I will use a marker to color code every activity either green (positive) or red (negative). So for example:

(green) get up at 6am

(green) take a cold shower

(green) meditate

(red) smoke a joint

(red) waste an hour on Netflix

(green) go to school

(red) hangout with X toxic friend and drink beer

I hope you see what I meant with the coach analogy now. You will get a lot of feedback on what you do each day. When I first started doing this I was shocked by how much red activities I had and made it a mission to get more green activities in there. It was slow progress but steadily it got better.

If you don’t like the left part of the journaling (which is how most people recommend it), I would advice you to try the right page. If you’re gonna do one, it should be the right page. See it as a free life coach.

SLEEP SCHEDULE

When I was at rock bottom my schedule was the furthest away from perfect that it could possibly be. One of the first things I changed that lasted was my sleeping schedule. I was done waking when it’s almost dark already and still being tired. Also I noticed that everything I did in the late evening wasn’t productive (or even counterproductive) like watching screens and doing drugs

There are good reasons to wake up early (5-6-7 AM). The best sleep you can get is the sleep between 10 and 12. If you’re still awake at 00:00 you will produce cortisol and adrenaline to keep you awake. This isn’t healthy. Good sleep improves cognitive function, vitality and motivation by a lot. There are many more benefits to a good sleeping schedule, and I think it’s well known that it’s a lot better. However most people think it’s hard to change their schedule.

It’s not. This is how you do it;

– Set your alarm at your goal wake up time (EG 6 am)

– When it goes, get out of bed, immediately eat breakfast

– Don’t sleep the rest of the day

– Make sure you stop all screens by 9:30 and are in bed before 10:00

– Set the alarm again, you will most likely wake up before it goes.

It’s as easy as this, now all you have to do is to stick with it. Start enjoying the vast amount if time you have available in the morning.

This post has gotten a lot longer than I anticipated. I really appreciate you reading it all the way through. If you have any questions feel free to post a comment or shoot me a message. I hope some of this has been helpful and I hope you will find success and happiness in life! Peace!

 

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About a Boy

Took a long walk through the woods yesterday and for no particular reason other than perhaps wanting to see a bit more life, I decided to walk back through the neighborhood. I had my walking stick and was doing my hippie thing. 

At one small corner, I came upon a house that I always notice, for this house is a ghastly house. It’s a wreck, a mess. I can only imagine the inside. 

It is a fact I live in a small mountain community at the top of the woods, where things are cheaper, and people are poor. 

So I was not surprised at the house. But it’s always drawn my attention. 

On this day, a young boy stood out front of the house, his strawberry blonde hair a mess, his clothes rumpled and dirty, and his hands on his hips. He just stood there, looking at the house. But it was the look on his face. 

He had the look of worry. The countenance of a fifty-four year old. His face was soured in angst. Almost as if his face said, “Why, why do you do this to me.”

And I was soon passing him. He took a glance at me. My long hair. My Peter Pan pants. My flannel. My walking stick.  I gave him a closed mouth smile of compassion. And then he simply looked away from me, dropped his hands from his hips and trudged inside, head down.  

Oh how this affected me. How this affected me! If only this boy of nine or ten could see into my heart, my mind. If only he knew what the sight of this wretched boy did to me. What he afforded me. How he opened me up to myself, my own past. When I was but a little wretch too. 

It was a ten second experience I can not forget. The look on his face. 

And I don’t pray often – as I prefer intent, Will – but I will pray for him. And I hope he hears his own prayers someday and answers them. 

He certainly helped me hear mine. 

But I can’t help but think that he will grow up and repeat the cycle. Nature and nurture. But for most people it’s only nature – meaning, they never learn to nurture, heal, and love themselves. 

And that’s the saddest fucking thing. Because I see it. All the time. And I had it cushy compared to many. 

I really won the lottery. In being myself and in everything I ever went through. 

Because I didn’t know it then, but one day, it would all make sense, it would all be okay. But for that boy, and more human children and adults than you can count – in the hundreds of millions, billions – it is not okay. It does not make sense. And they depart this world empty, leaving behind their link in a long chain of suffering.  

What more can I say. This was just a story about a boy, but it’s a story about life. The suffering and what goes on on this planet, and the bullshit, is unfathomable. Right now there are so many families struggling. 

And there always have been, but the disparity today is what makes it so bad. “The heaven of the rich is built on the hell of the poor.”

But we don’t care. The poor have their own neighborhoods. And one day they’ll ride the hyperloop from ghettoes in the Southwest into LA for work, where the rich will live and play. The city state will return. And the peasant, will simply be a poor person. And as Donald Trump said, “Not even poor people want to be around other poor people.”

Ironic they voted for him. He is their oppressor. Period. This is a billionaires cabinet. No healthcare and giant corporate tax breaks. But, they live in the Matrix. Fox News, and fear and stress and insecurity like you can’t fucking imagine – don’t even know how a corporation works, that it’s just a plantation, a rich man’s machine designed to leverage their income or their labor: their time. Because in their nightmare, there’s no time, none for pleasure. None for peace. And certainly none for the little boy. And it’s his nightmare too. And odds are he will not escape. Maybe into a bottle, maybe into pills. His life is just survival. 

And the worst part is the mental and emotional conditions that come out of this and that perpetuate it. 

Anyway, I could go on forever about a boy. But this is all I can write on it for now.  Because it’s just sometimes too much. But it reminds me that heaven and hell are on here on earth. And they are within us, but not all good people go to heaven on earth. Only in our society we equate success with virtue, so, they feel not only worthless but less than. Makes you wonder why some poor people can sometimes be racists. They need someone below them. They can’t be at the bottom… So their want for virtue stains their very character and allies them with a political party that is in policy against them. And having no future, they long for a golden past. But it’s a lie, like the biblical Heaven. But they like the odds, so they buy lotto tickets. And there is no fulfillment so they suffer in desire of fleeting pleasure. Opiates. Amphetamines. Alcoholism. Self-abuse. And the boy grows up in it. 

Where All Boys’ Dreams Begin 

Motherfvckin-go-in on-this-poem like-a-koan,
I’m a pure Brahmin spirit, ya I know-em,
I could clone-em:
Take in the yin and the yang,
Fire and the rain,
The Masculine and The Feminine,
And you heal all the pain;
All the sacred texts say it again and again:
You put the jewel in the lotus – om-mani-padma-hum – and again and again, a god you become –
Welcome to the truth,
It’s the sage’s only friend
Cause she’s alchemic, shamanic, hermetic, daemonic –
Hindu Kush is my favorite, oh Poet Vyasa that’s ironic –
Now I’m at the temple door and my desire is chthonic,
So I bring the dark to light,
Dakini goddess of the night;
Inner insight, my anima restored inside:
Two in one together, own the things I used to hide
Like the Thomas Gospel,
I am not Here to divide –
So people they meet me and they can’t even decide,
Is he a demon or a god?
You don’t know, but you like it;
He and Her makes Aman-Ra;
Even the Egyptians didn’t hide it;
So when we get naked, I’ll worship her as the highest;
For what the fuck else does a god look to, but a motherfvcking goddess –
So come with me, and return to yourself again;
And return me, to where all boys’ dreams begin.

The MS-13 Killing Fields

Preface: trigger warning. non-fiction violence. historical mass genocide.

… Soy un artista y solemente tengo respeto por las personas y la historia de El Salvador.

There are enough people to some and to some these beings are animals,
But there’s ancestral pain behind it, much more than an anthropological story,
But a story, of a people stripped of their religion, their culture, their everything.
And gangster rap and the Kardashians projected upon them; well, guess what,
These are the real hard motherfuckers,
Society left them one role,
In total fucking poverty like you can’t even imagine until you feel it in your stomach.
Add alcohol and the worst drugs, meth, PCP; fucking no options in life,
So, these kids, without whole societally integrated fathers for generations,
Well, they’re gonna play that gangster role like its their last..
And if you were them, you probably would too;
You think you wouldn’t: but you would.
Just like you play whatever role you play, whatever mask you wear, whatever hand you’ve been dealt.
You play the fuck out of it.
Because you have to: it’s all you have. All you know.
So, just further marginalize them, stigmatize them, or like welcome them back into society,
So their whole culture isn’t a fucking scary Gotham City villain.
The face tattoos are just owning the villain’s mask.
The crimes – the killing is just fitting in.
What other chances do these youths have to move up in the world?
If you had only one shot to be a big shot, would you take it?
Some always will, particularly when there is no other respect to be had, to be found.
When there is no power, fear controls, and when there is no future there is no fear.
So lots of violence,
At least in prison, they’ll be with their people, safe.
They don’t lose any respect by going to prison; what fucking shame do they fear?
Being a pussy. Not being a man.
And worse, not getting any fucking girls. The teenage hormonal equivalent of dying alone;
So it’s ride or die, no big deal. Shit, death, they grew up around it.
Nothing to fear. Only getting hacked to pieces with fucking machetes. Multiple assailants;
Strength in numbers. Gangs.
The original human social groups: what do you think a tribe is –
And they have to have an enemy, someone worse than them,
Because no one wants to be born at the bottom.
But some are.
In countries practically without economies, and in societies with lost, usurped cultures.
What the fuck do you think the inquisition did? Burned people and worse,
There is great ancestral pain in a million broken family stories, great sadness,
And shame to be from the dirt. And only the lowest jobs available. Forget about education.
Just violence, ugly drugs, and bullshit to worship: gangster rap. Tony Montana.
The guy getting head from the fine girls blowing him to score.
What are you going to do? Be a fucking pussy and maybe get killed, in a terrible way (So your enemies fear you),
Or are you going to choose to live as a man; to do what you have to do to compete in your culture – to advance – to survive?
We hardly even live on the same planet as them,
And outside of maybe academia, no one gives a shit about them, in-fact, they’re not even wanted,
Sub-class.
And they’re teens: schools won’t even fucking admit them (For fear);
Damn FBI MS13 Task Force might make a lot of dicks hard in Washington but deportation only grows the numbers: surprise, surprise; El Salvador has the highest murder rate in the fucking world,
Their own government hunts them with fucking death squads: El Sombre Negra: The Black Shadow.
They hunt them in LA too, these clandestine Salvadorian kill squads. It’s the inquisition all over.
The nightmare, the slaying of indigenous people never ended.
Now a small number of elites, Palestinian Christians largely run the country
And the original Lenca language is extinct.
Then came the Olmecs (After the Lencas),
Then the Mayans,
Then the Pipil people,
Who called the place Kuskatan, meaning, “The place of precious jewels”.
And these people were ready warriors when the Spanish came, telling them, “You want your weapons, come get them.”
An they actually defeated the conquistadors until subsequent expeditions, led by the brother of the first conquistador, succeeded – almost…
Legend has it a Maya-Lenca crown princess, Antu Silan Ulap, travelled from village to village, uniting all the towns against their Spanish conquerors, whom they drove out and prevented from rebuilding at San Miguel for ten years, until the Spanish returned with more soldiers, including 2,000 forced indigenous peoples from neighboring Guatemala… who chased the Lenca leaders into the hills, allowing the Spanish to recolonize in 1537.
It would be almost 300 years, in 1821, when El Salvador would no longer be under Spanish control.
Then the powerful coffee families ruled. Oligarchs who raided the coffers. A coup here and there,
And then the threat of communism, until La Matanza (The Slaughter), the Salvadorian Peasant Massacre of 1932, in which 10,000 to 40,000 were murdered by firing squad after being forced to dig their own graves.
It silenced dissent and was another twelve years until the son of a bitch – hijo de puta – was forced out of office, by the student led ‘Strike of Fallen Arms’, in which people just stayed home.
Once doctors and professionals joined, society was crippled, and Maximilliano Hernandez Martinez was out…
Follow that a bit after with a 12 years civil war 75-92, in which 75,000 were killed,
Including women, elderly, and children, as in the El Calabozo massacre, another slaughter,
This time US trained soldiers did the killing, and they used acid attacks too: government still hasn’t admitted or even acknowledged it;
A government slaughtering its own people,
This is the whole fucking history of this country, don’t you see?
But godddamn does that volcanic soil make a good tasting cup of coffee.