Monologues

If our inner monologues are saying things that we wouldn’t say to anyone else out loud, what purpose does that serve?

If our inner monologues are reinforcing values and beliefs that aren’t true anymore, why do we still believe them?

If our inner monologues are telling us things that are distorting our view of the world, why do we continue to let them speak?

If circumstances and experiences have changed, then it’s time to change our inner narrative.

Doing what’s good for us…

Sometimes means leaving behind something that we love or care about too much.

Leaving Facebook because it’s too toxic and doesn’t add value to our lives.

Declining additional commitments or dropping them because we’re over-subscribed.

Avoiding taking on additional work when we’re already working at our limit.

And sometimes it means simply saying “no thank you”.

The American Project

Something that was brought to my attention yesterday by a fantastic episode of the podcast “Why Is This Happening?” with Chris Hayes is the simple fact that a multiethnic, multiracial, pluralistic, representative, egalitarian democracy has never existed on this planet at any point in human history.

While we continue to stumble and miss the mark, for the last hundred years the United States of America has been the single most egalitarian nation-state in all of recorded history.

We have made tremendous missteps and mistakes as a society – nothing should ever indicate otherwise.  On racial justice, gender equality, and equality of sexuality and expression, we have largely missed the mark and continue to do so in a myriad of ways.

Our job as citizens is to ensure that the project continues and that we enfranchise as many of our fellow humans as we can along the way.  The project itself never ends, as is the case with any truly worthy enterprise.

The question that lies before us is this: Do we have the strength of will and the courage to continue the work?

Communicating

It’s easy to fall into the fallacy that effective communication is more about being clear than it is about honesty.

Presenting information in a clear and engaging way is certainly helpful.

Presenting your information with honesty and humility does more to engage your audience than anything else.

The hallmark of a great communicator is someone who can balance both, and it’s a great feeling to know that you’re trying.

Emotional thievery

Depression and trauma commit the most heinous of crimes.

They steal our ability to be happy, to love unconditionally, and to be fully present.

They make it hard to comprehend that our suffering isn’t grounded in a complete and holistic view of reality.

They prevent us from being able to understand that all of us are struggling in our own ways.

They keep us from knowing intrinsically that our experiences and feelings are valid.

We shouldn’t have to be reminded that our lives and our experiences are valid and valuable, but trauma and depression make it necessary.

What’s worse is that being subject to these conditions wasn’t up to us.  We didn’t ask to be afflicted with a crippling series of disorders where each decision is questioned, where every effort feels useless, and where all hope randomly fades from view.

But what was always has to be separated from what is for people suffering from depression and trauma.  Because without constantly having a different view proffered and reinforced from others, we become stuck.  We are only able to see what we can see, and that often means being stuck in a loop not of our making.

Depression and trauma have no known cure.  They’re conditions that have to be actively managed and the people suffering from them need support.

It’s a tough road survivors have to tread.  No one should have to walk it alone.

To be quite honest…

The last two weeks have been oscillating between a running riot and a complete disaster.  I haven’t been able to look at or listen to the news because I become either unreasonably angry or completely inconsolable.  But the last two weeks haven’t been any different than the last year-and-change, it’s just that each new day brings a new reason to be angry and distraught.

I haven’t been able to write.  It’s been impossible for me to focus on my own mental health and well-being.  I’m constantly on guard and losing my composure with people.

But I keep trying.  I really do.  I keep thinking and hoping that just the next bit of evidence, the next political fuck-up, the next failure of leadership will finally rip the lodestone out from under the rotten, rapidly-putrefying carcass of this so-called “administration”.

And every time I look up, yet another horror is being unleashed.  More violence, more petulance, more insanity.

And every time, I scream inwardly: “WHAT. THE. FUCK.”

I find it more difficult with every passing day reconciling my deeply-held belief that America is deeply-flawed and completely wrong about a lot of things… but America keeps trying.  Every day I look around and wonder which one of my supposed “countrymen” is going to pull a knife or a gun and make sure I never make it home or see my loved ones again.

I’m angry at being angry.  I’m angry at people for having made me feel this way.  I didn’t even get a choice in the matter of getting angry, I was made to feel this way by people who clearly have no empathy, no morals, and no soul to save.  Morally bereft, spiritually bankrupt, and hopelessly enamored with notions of heroism and exceptionalism draped around a barely-concealed violence-fetish erection.

But heaven forbid I, or anyone else, become upset.  Because of course that would be a clear breach of decorum.  How can you have civilized discussion around the violation of human rights, repression of civil rights, and the rape and pillage of the only ecosystem known to harbor sentient life if you’re becoming emotional?

It’s like waking up in a Mirrorland Hellscape where Violence is Safety, War is Peace, Vice is Holy, and Lying is Truth-speaking.  It’s enough to make someone scrawl the word “GASLIT” on their forehead with an X-acto Knife.

I keep asking myself how we got here; how we managed to let so many wander so far into the proverbial graveyard of failed philosophies and doctrines.  How someone could possibly come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to raise Authoritarianism from its place on Political Death Row and have it take high-center-stage.  How so many people forgot that the blood in their veins is the same color as everyone else’s (hint: if you paid attention in Science class, you’d know it’s blue until it hits oxygen).  How their god is one of a multitude, and that all experiences and emotions are valid.  How all genders, races, creeds, colors, and nationalities are as valid as the day they categorically came-to-be.

How did it come to this?  How did it come to fear, anger, resentment, and regression?

More importantly, and the really the only question that keeps me from giving up completly: where and when does it end?

Fractures

Muscle fibers and tendons can tear during training.

Bones can fracture and break during the execution.

Brain cells can fire white-hot through the effort.

The thing about things that break, is the fact that if the organism survives, the organism has the opportunity to strengthen and improve.

Muscle fibers and tendons strengthen after periods of rest and careful maintenance.

Bones repair and harden where they were broken if they’re looked after.

Brain cells and neural pathways re-wire and strengthen bonds during periods of rest and rejuvenation.

But it’s not just our biology that can fracture.  Social, political, and economic bonds and structures can fracture.  The bonds that rend themselves under the weight of our egos, our inability to empathize or see each other from a position of vulnerability and openness.

Our inability to empathize in some way with the lives of rural communities when we live in relative comfort and privilege of urban life.  Conversely, the inability of rural communities to empathize with the continuing plight of urban lives who labor under pressures they can neither control nor comprehend.

Without doing the emotional and spiritual labor of trying to lift the proverbial weight of empathy, without causing some rifts and fractures of our own, this kind of strength will elude us indefinitely.

As political, social, and economic forces endeavor to stratify and drive us further apart from one another.  As our bonds continue to strain well beyond their breaking points.  Our ability to understand that without stress or repairable fractures, without friction or frisson, we do not strengthen, change, or evolve depends upon us engaging in the everyday labor.

A life without labors, tears, friction, fractures, or exertion is a life that cannot and will not ever become something more.