Vicious Cycles / Downward Spirals

“In the end
You dig yourself the hole you’re in
When you don’t know what you want
You just repeat yourself again
In the end
You just repeat yourself again
When you don’t know who you are
You dig yourself the hole you’re in”

– Gotye, Dig Your Own Hole

I feel like I’ve been lying to you.  This novel has been a convenient way for me to avoid addressing the truth, one I’ve been all-too happy to indulge.  The truth is I don’t know what I’m doing.

I’ve stagnated.  Or technically I’m still stagnant, because this is nothing new.  I have no plans whatsoever for my future, yet I write and share this novel under the happy little assumption that one day I’ll have it completed.  Only the thing is I still haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to kill myself.

We can make claims to understanding or claims to acceptance all we want, but those claims don’t mean shit all when you find yourself back in that hole.  All the understanding you thought you had, all the things you tried to accept, it all comes rushing back in and before you know it you’re buried in the ghosts of issues you thought you’d resolved, a victim of cruel irony.

I don’t see a future for myself.  I have no plans, no goals, no motivations or aspirations.  Sure, there are things I would like to see and do and accomplish, but wanting something and wanting something to the point where you’re actually willing to work towards it are two very different things.  I don’t feel like I have anything worth living for.  It’s easy to overlook that fact when you’re doing shit all, spending your days watching television and reading books and writing, but the second you’re forced to confront the idea of any kind of future you begin to realise that you have nothing worth fighting for.

I don’t know why I am the way I am, why I can’t think about the future, about anything as simple as getting a job without feeling like throwing up.  Was I born this way?  Was it something I experienced while growing up?  Is it that I don’t want to feign normality when normal is the furthest thing from my mind?  Is it that I don’t want to commit myself, to act like I might be invested in this life when most days I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if it all just ended? Or is it as simple as I’m a lazy little shit, hiding behind melodramatic and cynical excuses in denial of my true nature?

I don’t know that I’ll ever find the answer, and to tell you the truth I’m sick of looking.  The why of it may forever elude me; the only question I should be concerning myself with now is: “what am I going to do with my life?”

As much as it pains me to even think about it, as much as I want to hide from all responsibility and conflict, I need to make a decision.  And yet…

And yet this is nothing new, and this isn’t the first time I’ve chastised myself for not doing anything about it.  What’s worse is it probably won’t be the last, either.  I’m stuck in a rut I don’t know how to get out of, caught in a cycle I can’t seem to break.  If my problem is summing up the willpower to do anything then how can I solve that problem if I can’t sum up the willpower to do it?  The solution is the problem, what I need is what I lack.

Or are these just more excuses, reasons I’ve come up with so that I don’t have to try?  Am I self-aware or in denial?  Am I trying to find the source of my flaws or simply justifying them?   Do I even want to change?

I don’t know.

Fucking Like

Alright, so I’m not going to lie: the lack of feedback on my novel has been disappointing, which really sucks because the feedback that I have received has been incredibly helpful.  I feel it’s important to establish that I wasn’t looking for glowing reviews and unending praise.  I mean obviously that would have been nice, but what I really wanted was some sign that it was anything other than unremarkable.

An artist’s worst fear isn’t rejection; it’s indifference.  The sole purpose of art is to provoke a reaction in its audience, be it admiration, fear, awe, disgust or anything else.  To have your work accepted without a sound is like having the word “unremarkable” written across your forehead.  Unremarkable.  Not good, not bad, just… unremarkable.

Whoever invented the “like” button clearly wasn’t an artist, because no artist in their right mind would ever settle for something as curt and hollow as a “like” in response to their work.  “How does it make you feel?”  Like.  “What do you think the message is?”  Like.  “What does it mean to you?”  Like.

Like.  Like, I liked it, but not enough to go into depth about what I thought of it.  Or, yeah, I didn’t really like it, but to say that would be rude, so Like.

And what’s so wrong with saying you didn’t like it?  That’s good!  It means there’s a reason you didn’t like it, and once you tell them they can address the problem!  Can you imagine if no one gave constructive criticism?  If schoolteachers simply gave all assignments back with a “thumbs-up” stamp on the front?  We would never learn from our mistakes!  We would never be able to fix what’s wrong, to grow as individuals.

I feel kind of stupid complaining about this, but I created this blog so that I could have somewhere to unload my thoughts, and this has been bothering me for a while now.  I’m so sick of people biting their metaphorical tongues just because they’re afraid of offending someone.

Before all this I felt alone, stranded on an island with only my thoughts to keep me company and no one to share them with.  I had all these things I had to say and no one I felt I could say them to, so when I found this place and these people you can imagine the relief I felt in my heart.  I’d finally found somewhere I could speak my mind and have other people do the same, a place where the silence didn’t exist.

Please don’t take that away from me now.

A Better Version of You

“Cut clean from the dream that night, let my mind reset
Looking up from a cigarette, and she’s already left
I start digging up the yard for what’s left of me in our little vignette
For whatever poor soul is coming next”

– Hozier, Jackie and Wilson

The worst part about being a romantic is accepting that you’re not in love, you’re horny.  It feels dirty, you know?  Love is such an endearing and romantic concept.  Hormones are, well… gross.  Somewhere between the appeal of love and the repel of sexual attraction I lost sight of the difference.

The trick is to consciously redefine the distinction between being attracted to someone and finding someone attractive.  For most of my adolescent life I struggled with finding this line, and became convinced that I was in love with each and every pretty girl who happened to pass me by.  This resulted in countless cases of heartbreak, mostly because I was sure they deserved a lot better than shitty old me, and so did nothing to try and express my feelings.  Which, all things considered, was actually quite reasonable of me.

I wanted to be in love.  I wanted to feel like I was part of something bigger than myself, part of a special connection between two people who were destined to be together.  Of course the irony was that it was never just two people: with each fall for someone new my faith in true love grew weaker and weaker.  See, I had to believe in love.  I had to believe that when a girl caught my eye from across the room it was because there was something real between us.  The alternative was that I simply found her attractive, and as such was no better than those douchebags who objectified and sexualized women without shame.

Obviously this wasn’t the case, and I know now that admiring someone’s good looks doesn’t inherently make you a shallow chauvinistic pig, but back then it was a real cause for concern.  I had enough shortcomings and downfalls: my honour was one of the few things I had left, and I was determined not to tarnish it, however misguided my concerns may have been.

I wanted to be a better version of myself: someone who was above all that, who could rise above primal instincts and reach for something greater, for a connection that really meant something.  Of course things never seemed to work out, and when that happened I would simply do my best to bury the crush and move on to the next one.  It took me a long time and a lot of heartbreak to finally learn that what I was feeling wasn’t love; it was attraction.

I still have trouble differentiating between the two sometimes, but I’ve learnt to cope with the struggle.  I still have trouble accepting my sexuality, which will probably fester into some really great psychoses and sexual hangups later on in life, but for now I’m content to preserve my own sense of romance, however naïve that may be.

An Idle Mind

An Idle Mind

“And I’m saddened by the thought
That sometimes I think too much
And though I might be right here
You know that I’m really not”

– Dan Mangan & Shane Koyczan,
Tragic Turn of Events / Move Pen Move

I’ve been keeping busy lately.  Working on stuff in the real world, sparing little time to dwell on the things in my head.  The work keeps my mind preoccupied, and so long as I’m not feeding the flames with attention the firestorm of thoughts in my head die down. Unfortunately stepping out of my head also means stepping away from writing about what’s in it, and I always seem to find myself caught between a rock and a hard place when that happens.

The distractions are relieving, but temporary.  The thoughts always find a way to come back, worming their way to the surface in their unrelenting quest to be heard.  Is this what you’ve come to? they whisper.  Is this your life?  Occupying yourself with meaningless distractions in futile attempts to stifle your true nature?  Simply postponing the inevitable?  Sometimes I feel like everything I do is done with that shadow over my head, like all my time is spent waiting for the darkness to settle in again.

And what about your writing?  Are you really going to turn your back on that too?  Cut it out, just like you’ve cut out so many other important things in your life?  You can’t pretend to be something you’re not; at least not forever.  Sooner or later the mask will fall, and when it does I’ll be there.

They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, but I don’t think the ownership changes hands that easily.  I think it’s less about who’s workshop it is and more about what you make in it.  Or rather what you make out of what’s already in it.  So I can preoccupy my mind with as many little projects as I can find, but at the end of the day it’s still the same old workshop under the same old ownership.  The renovation required to change that is a long, ongoing process with no foreseeable end in sight, and few results to gauge my progress along the way.

Even so it feels good to feign normality, at least for a little while.  To push everything to the back and live in the moment, pretend all there is is here on the surface.  They never let me stay long, but at least I get a taste of what might have been.

When They Dig Us Up

When They Dig Us Up

“What will they think of us
When they dig us up?”

– Les Jupes, When They Dig Us Up

There’s something kind of sad about blogging.  You write all these posts that reflect and describe who you are as a person, but they all end up getting buried under one another as time goes by.  Eventually you reach a point where some are so far back in the archives that no one will ever read them again, and they’re forgotten.

In a way it’s a lot like real life.  Experiences, memories, pieces of our personalities are all buried beneath newer content over time, and there are parts of ourselves that no one will ever know.  So many of our interactions in everyday life only ever occur on the surface of the deep abyss that is our identity.  People rarely need or want to know what lies beneath.

It makes me sad to think about all those forgotten posts, written but not read.  And this isn’t just another obvious attempt to get people to read through my archives (although feel free to take it as such).  It makes me think about all the parts of myself that no one will ever get to know, be it here or in the “real world”.  It’s kind of like the old saying about a tree falling in the forest, only in a more existential sense, if that’s possible.

The same goes for old memories.  Sometimes I’ll have these flashes of the past, fragmented memories from my childhood that play incoherently across my mind like damaged rolls of film.  There’s a bittersweet kind of feeling that accompanies these incomplete images, a sad kind of nostalgia for what was, but more importantly regret for not being able to remember more.  It’s like the rest of the memory is just on the edge of my consciousness, and if I could only reach a little father I might be able to grab it…

But they remain out of reach, and all I have left are pieces of a whole.

What’s left is buried somewhere deep within my subconscious, far below newer memories which in turn will be buried beneath newer ones as my life goes on.

And in the end what will remain?  What will I have to show for my life when everything is buried beneath the surface?  All the answers to questions no one ever thought to ask, all the parts of myself which should have mattered, could have mattered, if only they’d seen the surface for just a little longer?  What will become of them?  Will they matter then?  Do they matter now?

I don’t know.

Food for Thought

“It’s not about being happy, that’s the thing. I’m just trying to get through each day. I can’t keep asking myself “Am I happy? “ It just makes me more miserable. I don’t know if I believe in it; real, lasting happiness.  All those perky, well-adjusted people you see in movies and TV shows? I don’t think they exist.”

– Diane Nguyen (BoJack Horseman)

I’ve recently have a revelation of sorts.  Like most life-changing lessons, this one was partly inspired by television – Netflix’s very own BoJack Horseman, to be precise.  That show is an unending fountain of knowledge, so it’s no surprise it’s had a part to play in this epiphany.

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for some time will know that I came out of a depression a while back.  Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a long time will know I’ve been in and out of it pretty much all of my adolescent life.  And those of you who suffer through something similar will probably know that there isn’t really an end to depression.

You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to be happy.  There’s no revelatory moment where everything gets better and all the shit you’ve gone through over the past how many months or years just washes away.  Even as you start to recover and move forward you’ll still feel the weight of that time, eager to drag you back down to that dismal darkness.

What I’ve begun to realise is that emotions aren’t states of being.  At least not in the way that “employed” or “male” are.  Emotions are fleeting.  They are temporary states of being, only ever existing in the here and now.  To describe yourself as a happy person is like saying you’re a sleeping person, or a showering person.  Sure, sometimes we get stuck in a rut of one particular emotion, but even that’s a simplification of the truth.

When I’m depressed I’m not just “depressed”.  It’s more of a continuous cycle of negative energy on repeat.  I’m unmotivated, self-conscious, tired, exhausted, enraged, indifferent.  They take turns at the steering wheel of the depression bus, destination suicide.  To sum it all up as “depression” is just dismissive.

The same goes for happiness.  Even as I’m emerging from this fog of depression, I still have shitty days.  I’m not a happy person.  I feel happiness on occasion, but not in an ever-present state.  I feel sadness on occasion (admittedly on a fairly regular basis), but not permanently.

Emotions are sort of like food.  We eat when we’re hungry (or bored), and then we stop eating.  Most of our lives are just spent on autopilot from one source of food to the next.  To say I’m a “chicken teriyaki” person implies that’s all I ever eat, at every waking hour of my existence.  Sure, I like chicken teriyaki, but I also like spaghetti and pizza and toaster strudels (god, I love toaster strudels).  And sometimes I have to eat things that taste bad, because they make me stronger.

See, the problem with life is we take it too seriously.  We harp over the bad stuff and we try in vain to cling to the good stuff.  The solution is to stop.  Stop trying to control what is so obviously out of your hands.  Enjoy the good stuff while you have it and let the bad stuff shape you, mould you into something stronger.  None of this really matters, so stop acting like it does.

Savour the food while it’s in your mouth, but for god’s sake don’t constipate yourself in an attempt to prolong it.  Just let the food pass through you, and move on to the next meal.  After all, there are only so many before we die, and there’s no sense missing out on what’s to come just because you were too busy holding onto what has passed.