Today we are reminded of all we are thankful for in life, in remembrance of that fateful day in 1625 when Abraham Lincoln brought fine Italian turkey to the starving savages of the Americas and forever changed the course of history. My family has forgone a mass gathering so it’ll just be my mother, alcoholic brother, and I this year. Oh joyous day.
That fraction of a sentence in 12 Rules for Life stuck out to me this morning because it’s often something I thought about while on my walks. The first time it hit me was a couple years ago when I was noticing all of the cracks in the pavement and the nearly deadly misalignment of sidewalk tiles caused by shifting earth over the years. One spot in my neighborhood has a drop of a foot which resumes with a sheer cliff on the next tile. I’ve tripped and fallen here more than once, though I’ll likely not do it again!
People often talk about problems in the sense that they’re waiting for someone else to solve them. Complaining, essentially. Bitching, when it’s overtly cynical. I’ve tried to live in a way such that if I raise an issue, I offer a solution. If I don’t have a solution, I keep my mouth shut. I say “I’ve tried…” because it’s impossible to maintain this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sometimes we’re just bitchy.
What would happen if people who had cracked pavement in front of their houses had to fix it themselves? There’d be immediate cries of unfairness at having to pay for it, which tosses the idea that taxes are unjust and pointless right out the window. If we weren’t forced to pitch in for infrastructure we’d all likely be driving on mountainous dirt roads. Perhaps instead people could simply do what is expected. Most of us don’t even do that, and I include myself in that one-hundred-percent. If you have cracked pavement in front of your house, the government will fix it for free… but the catch is that you have to actually let somebody know.
I live in Michigan. If you’re familiar with the culture here, you know that the state of our roads is a source of constant rage and humor. So I’m not saying we have a perfect government that will rush over and replace your sidewalk the second you phone them up, but you have to at least do that before you complain.
This is a simple, pointless example of taking responsibility for the state of the world, but if you’re marginally insightful you can project this toward infinite complexity. You have to start somewhere, though.
I’ve made a point to write for at least fifteen minutes a day. It doesn’t seem like much but I have a very short attention span and even making it that long without getting distracted has been a challenge. I thought Adderall was supposed to have the opposite effect but I’ve noticed this trend in most activities, not just writing. Yesterday I succeeded but I didn’t finish the post; it’s a longer one: a review of a book I particularly dislike (lol) so I want to make sure it’s at least enjoyable to read and interesting rather than coming off as though I’m whining.
Since I’ve unfollowed pretty much every blog I had followed over the last few years, I’ve actually found it more enjoyable to read and respond to your posts. I don’t cast artificial likes anymore and I may not catch your posts on the day that you write them, but I eventually do and I actually read them again. It became such a habit to compulsively “like” every post I saw that I kind of hated myself. That happens to me a lot and a deep, unconscious part of me is somewhat offended at that. When I post something and somebody likes it seconds after I press the post button, come on, I know you didn’t read it. Lol. I don’t care about how many likes I get. If you don’t want to read what I write, don’t pretend like you did!
I’m sure I’ll add blogs back to the following list over time but right now I’m enjoying the act of having to purposefully go to someone’s blog and read it rather than having them served to me on a platter. It’s also nice to go to people’s sites because when you read things through the WordPress feed, you don’t get to see any of their design or formatting and it leads me to sometimes forget who blogs about what because everything just looks like the same person (which reminds me I still haven’t committed any time toward customizing my own site design UUUUGH!).
This isn’t quite 15 minutes so I’m going to write some more of the book review. If you’re curious, the book is “The War of Art” which comes highly recommended by many self-help authors and podcasters. It’s absolute trash.
Today I listened to Lex Fridman’s second interview with Eric Weinstein and in it, they were discussing The Theory of Everything (the actual theory not the film) and after Fridman kept asking Weinstein to explain it to him in a way he could conceptualize, Weinstein said something along the lines of:
“You want to ask me about the Theory of Everything, but you haven’t even digested the Theory of Everything as we’ve had it since 1928… when Dirac published his equation. So for whatever reason, and this isn’t a hit on you, you haven’t been motivated enough in all the time that you’ve been on Earth to at least get as far as the Dirac Equation.”
That really struck me because it perfectly lays out something my mind has reached out toward for a long time (and I also had no clue what the Dirac Equation was). We all want experts to explain complicated things to us in bite-sized snippets we can digest, but we aren’t willing to read any of the hundreds or thousands of books and articles published on the subject. It’s simply not possible to know something just by being told about it in a conversation once. I had inklings of this idea a couple years ago and that’s when I really started to get away from asking questions on forums and trying to prostrate myself in front of more educated peers. A lot of the time I was doing that, I wasn’t even getting correct information to begin with because they themselves were far from experts.
It’s impossible to study and memorize everything humanity has learned in the brief time since we began recording knowledge. That sucks, especially for people like me who have a gut feeling that we only exist to learn everything there is to learn. I will die not knowing the (correct) answers to most of the questions I have. That’s at least mildly annoying.
So my takeaway from the last two years and change since I cleaned up my act and started living with more of a focal point in front of me is that I need to rely far less on other people, most of whom are lying simply to make themselves appear intelligent, and learn things for myself. This is a very slow process and takes a lot of work but it’s the only way I’ve ever felt like I’ve actually learned something. My father spent hundreds of hours plopped in front of the television watching that abominable “How It’s Made” show and I doubt he ever really understood how gumballs were made in the end.
This is also the first post I’ve ever re-read a day later and edited for clarity in the history of this blog. A good milestone, I think.
Over a month ago, I decided to publish more serious writing here as I’m never pleased with my mish-mash of self-aggrandizing and self-loathing journal entries. At the same time, I deleted the majority of my social media accounts (what was left anyway, I haven’t been big on that sort of thing since quitting alcohol). Although I feared I might become even more lonely than I already am, the opposite happened. I spoke to friends more often, in a healthy way rather than in the Twitter-inspired shower thought diatribes we’re all so accustomed to, and made a small number of new friends. I “trashed” all of the old content on this site and while it still exists in hiding, I doubt I’ll ever take the time to go through it and re-publish the ones I like.
Writing that I’m proud of is quite hard to do though so it became apparent that if I was going to wait until I had something I felt deserved to be posted, I’d never post anything on this blog again. Reasons for this are numerous but chief among them are the Adderall I take which has made me a straight A student and improved my social skills dramatically but makes me quite unwilling to do anything that requires a lot of multi-tasking. The way I write really requires multitasking, as well as being genuinely busy for the first time in my life. Between two schools, a full time job, and an obsession with songwriting, there simply isn’t much room for an hour of writing every day.
Now I begin with a clean slate. This will continue to be for informal thoughts and commentary rather than the more serious writing I’ve been doing. Perhaps I’ll get back to writing more about recovery and addiction now and again as it’s something I’ve really started to notice in people around me during lockdown season (which signs are indicating we will return to shortly).
I’ve also unfollowed a great deal of the blogs I was following. I had something like 500 blogs on that list and over 75% of them weren’t even active, the rest I simply didn’t ever actually read. Funny enough, I was getting more followers per day during the two months my blog was inactive than when I was actively writing.