Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finding My Happy Place

From the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
That one paragraph contains so much bullshit, that I feel like I should be reaching for a shovel, but instead, let's just focus on the last half dozen words. These values that the Creator allegedly gave us. Life. Well, if you're reading this than you have life. If you were born, or crawled out from under a rock. You have life. You are a living organism, with a multitude of living organisms finding their home on or in your physical body. You yourself are a parasite, and I mean that in the nicest way. So...life. We got it. If we didn't it wouldn't matter anyway. All this discussion would be for naught.

Liberty. Ahem! I said liberty, as in Statue of. Here is the wonderful Wikipedia's definition.
 Liberty, in philosophy, involves free will as contrasted with determinism. In politics, liberty consists of the social and political freedoms enjoyed by all citizens. In theology, liberty is freedom from the bondage of sin.
There's another load of hooey for y'all. If you've read any of the latest neurological research, you may have learned that the idea of free will is becoming a thing of the past. Actual scientific research (You know. That stuff that developed your smart phone and delivered your baby. Science.) has shown that we are not consciously aware of pretty much all of our decision making. Our choices are predetermined by genetics and the environment during your upbringing. 

The idea of liberty is just a salve to make us feel better about our mental slavery. We are poor deluded little monkeys, constantly searching for this thing called happiness, as if that nine letter word holds the key to all of life's mysteries.

So, happiness. That was the point of this whole post. Finding my "happy place." Here is the revered Urban Dictionary's definition of happy place:
[That] place inside all of us where we are all happy and get the warm fuzzies. our happy places are insulated from the shitheads that make up just about everyone we encounter
Where would this place be located exactly? In our brains? That brings to mind a new film, garnering all kinds of praise. It's called "Inside Out," and it portrays our emotions as little beings, running around inside our head, trying to gain control of our brain. It's homunculus times five! I suppose I shouldn't criticize the film before seeing it, but I can criticize the concept.

Maybe our happy place is situated in our soul, but then someone would have to provide me a map that points out the location of the soul, never mind the definition. In my mind, my happy place is a gated community. I use Celexa and Wellbutrin as entry ways to happiness, but they are more about being care free; not letting the big bad world drive me batty.

I also use medical marijuana as a guide to my happy place, but it's handier for helping me visualize what my happy place would be like if it really existed. Remember the pot smoking scene from "Animal House"?
Larry: [to Jennings, while high] Okay. That means that our whole solar system could be, like one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being. [Jennings nods] This is too much! That means one tiny atom in my fingernail could be--
Jennings: Could be one little tiny universe.
Larry: Could I buy some pot from you?
 Finding my happy place, like finding my niche in society, has never been easy. I've always pictured heaven -- which I don't believe in -- as being exactly like Mayberry. You know, the town where Andy Griffith and Barney kept the peace. And that's just it. It was always so peaceful, which is why I'm usually most content amidst natural surroundings. I don't fear being mauled by bears, but I do fear being burdened with debt. I don't fear getting lost in the woods, because if I start walking, I'm bound to run into a mall sooner or later.

The trick is that once you've found your happy place, figuring out how to stay there as a permanent resident. No one wants to walk down the streets of sadness, once true happiness has been found. But would happiness even exist without sadness? Isn't happy just the yin to sad's yang? There I go getting philosophical again. I prefer contentment over happiness, because it infers acceptance of what is. One must learn to make lemonade out of the bushels of lemons that life feeds us. Luckily, I really like lemonade!
It's just about time to head to work. I'm driving today, so that I can trade a box of books in, and I'm already missing my walk. The employee who usually works this shift with me this evening, sent my boss an email Sunday evening that simply read, "I quit." Maybe she has found her happy place, and it not at the bookstore after all. 

The biggest indicator that I'm not in my happy place is the fact that I'm wearing pants. If it was truly my happy place, then pants would not be necessary. And on that note....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Still Not Feeling It

I'm nearing the end of my shift at work. I am running the place solo at the moment, because my co-worker just happened to call in sick on this beautiful sunny day, which also happens to be her Friday. Who can blame her? Certainly not me.

I have the urge to buy a few books, just in an attempt to assuage my tired old soul. The satisfaction to be gained from shopping for material goods is as short lived as a masturbatory orgasm though. Fun while it lasts, but it's over much too soon. I have over two-thousand books in my personal library and no matter how much I try and cull the literary herd, I still seem to maintain the same amount, between bringing home advance copies to snagging something out of the donations box.

The better satisfaction to be gained will be when I go home tonight and finish the novel that I fell asleep trying to finish last night. I didn't fall asleep because of stale prose, but more so because I had worked that day, and it was nearing two in the morning anyway.

I'm still always on the lookout for the good. Tonight I spotted a hummingbird, perched atop a nearby fir tree. He soon flitted off, but I still get a thrill every time I see the little boogers. (Yes, I did just call hummingbirds "little boogers." Sue me. I love litigation.) The other good moment(s) was spotting Chloe, the black cat that lives next door to the church down the block from the bookstore. I often take my break on the back steps of that church, and it's nice that after about three years, Chloe the cat will tolerate my presence. She's definitely not the kind of cat to rub up against me, asking to be scratched under the chin.

Time to patrol the store, and make sure that there is no one hiding between P and Q. Until I bleat again.

Not in the Mood

It's true honey. I'm not in the mood. I am just so turned off today by the world around me. I'm tired of being the lonely old curmudgeon, who is only get older and more curmudgeonly as the days go by. I can't afford to think about tomorrow, because I can't even afford a new pair of shoes. Hell, I can't even scrape up enough dough to declare bankruptcy. But honestly, I'm not in the mood to talk about debt or the societal construct of money, and how it may be the root of all evil, but the lack of it seems to the be source of many of my woes.

I'm definitely not in the mood to do that thing called work today. Granted, I'm not shoveling shit, which was job position my ex-wife suggested. I guess there's no danger of me going postal, since I don't work for the U.S. mail service. My job is relatively easy: shelve books, receive and price books and then sell said books to various customers. My customers are awesome. There are even a few I fantasize about once in a while, but those thoughts are for a different blog. It's my co-workers and my parental managers that are like a hot needle in my eye some days.

My workplace often has the feel of a freshmen high school class. There's surreptitious whispering and gossip that magically ceases when one comes near the conversation. When I want a vacation day, or require a sick day, I have to jump through all kinds of hoops, being treated like a child, instead of a 53-year-old man. I've been chastised for complaining about waiting six hours for my lunch break. I was told that I have "lost sight of what the bookstore is about." I know what my job is about, that's for sure. It's about being underpaid, undervalued, and overlooked.

I'm not in the mood to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich again, but it's a done deal. The all-American lunch is already being digested. I'm not in the mood to put on my shoes and socks, throw my gear together and walk south to work, but moods are superfluous in this society and can easily be adjusted with various medications. I've already taken my pills and I'm still not in the mood to conform. Oh well.

What am I in the mood for today? Well, the sun is breaking through the clouds. I have plenty of bud to smoke and about 50 pages left to read in my latest novel. Those ingredients could certainly make up a day that I'm in the mood for, but there's that whole lack of free will thing. This automaton must arise from his slumber and walk the path that society has given me. I'd rather be lost in the woods, with no hope of return, but hopes and wishes are like balloons released by two-year-olds into the blue sky, only to burst at high altitude.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On the Wheel

Déjà vu. It's another Tuesday, and I sit here struggling with my creative license and searching for suitable words to line up for this blog post. I keep envisioning myself as a hamster on an exercise wheel, and my sadistic owner keeps increasing the speed. Jane! Stop this crazy thing!

We all get the sense sometimes that we're going in circles. Some of us tend to repeat the same relationships ad infinitum, with no apparent learning curve whatsoever. Some of us [I'm raising my hand] stay in mundane jobs much too long, until our brains turn to corporate mush. I read something recently that has stuck: Some of us have an easier time attaining happiness than others. I know. It's sound like one of those no-duh statements, but I'm talking about the complete inability; not just laziness. I know laziness. Laziness is a friend of mine. I prefer to call him a lifestyle choice. Doing stuff is overrated.

But sometimes we have to "do stuff." Like today, I must report to work in a timely manner and then stay throughout my shift, maintaining a pleasant demeanor, and trying my best to look busy. If only they just had a large exercise wheel at work. I could just climb and and the management could start the thing spinning. It would then be visually obvious that I'm doing what's expected of me: going in circles seemingly like a chicken with it's head cut off.

Today is one of those days when I feel the chains of my emotional burdens more than other days. I translate this into tiredness, but it's not a physical kind of tired. It's a matter of being exhausted by the world around me. When my wife sends me a text in the middle of the day stating, "I hate people," I know exactly what she means, even though I'm a people too. Sometimes the absurdity of the life we find ourselves in can be a bit overwhelming. Rather than having a rainy day fund to take a warm weather vacation, we have street cameras feeding us $186 speeding tickets, and ex-spouses demanding the unreasonable.

I try to be reasonable if nothing else, but the static created by human society becomes a bit much for me. I've always been a bit of a loner. (picture Vincent Price in "The Last Man on Earth.") Years ago, I had the daily routine of taking walks in the woods to help escape the madding crowd, but these days I just have my deck, my smoke and the stars above. Don't get me wrong. I have my family too, and it's most likely because of my intense love for them that I stick around, rather than returning to my home planet. If you could see my home planet though.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Separate But Equal

No. I'm not talking about blacks and whites, or even men and women. I'm talking about humans and animals. We, as the humans, have done a stellar job keeping ourselves separate from the animals. If you ask your average citizen if they consider themselves to be an animal, they will most likely be insulted. There was film called "The Elephant Man," based on the life of opera lover Joseph Merrick. It contained the famous line: "I am not an animal. I am a human being." Well, someone should have slapped that elephantine fool upside his overgrown head, because he was way off the mark.

We are all animals, and we all descended from single cell organisms way back before free WiFi. Most folks can't even wrap their bone heads around our close relationship with the chimpanzees in our world. The difference between the DNA of humans and chimpanzees is about 1.2%. Some of you find that fact insulting. Why is that? Maybe that's why we've been performing cruel experiments on chimpanzees for scores of years. Our fragile human egos need to solidify the imaginary difference we have created between us and other animals. No wonder it's a common practice for gorillas to throw their shit at their human spectators. Seems a proper response to their smirking captors.

On average, the genetic difference between humans is .10%. That accounts for such veneer as eye color, skin pigmentation and so forth. We're all humans though, right? But when war is declared, humans turn other humans into unfamiliar savages that need extermination. We still have white fools walking around, thinking our treatment of the American natives, or imported Africans, or immigrant Latinos and Middle-Eastern peoples is justified. Yet these same white fools will shake their head at the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, even though Roosevelt turned away the fleeing Jews at the docks. Not in my backyard! The Americans chanted. Look it up.

I really cannot expect my fellow humans to understand their bond with animals when they cannot even see past the .10 percent difference between themselves and their neighbor. We're constantly looking for differences beyond our hair color or nose size too. Did you notice that commie bumper-sticker on our new neighbor hippie van? or Those parents are so cruel for not letting their kids watch TV. They must be some kind of puritan freaks. Judgments come so easily to us, and that aspect of our personality is as hard to kill off as a water bear.

I gather this knowledge, process it and then try and change my perception of the world accordingly, but inner change is a near impossibility.  You are who you were born to be, with some additional flavoring added during your upbringing. If you're a good person, it's just good luck; for you and for us. You can go ahead and convert to some religion that promises to sooth your pain, but you are still you...and you changes every day. Cells slough off and new cells are created. Memories are burned away and at some date you may not even remember the name you were given when you slid into this complex and funny world.

I was theorizing earlier that I feel most at ease in the woods, or lakeside -- any natural setting -- because at that moment I feel closest to my animal self. I can let all those human created thoughts and anxieties float away on the molecules of air passing by. I can feel the earth and grass beneath the weight of my flesh and bone and know that I am one with that earth.

On the other hand ("that being said"), it's Tuesday in Seattle. I must report to my position at the bookstore by two o'clock, or risk losing my meager income. A loss of income could mean a loss of my protective shelter, or hamper my ability to obtain sustenance. No matter what the uncomfortable reality is for us humans (There is no sound when a tree falls if an ear is not there to perceive that sound.) the unreality of our social constructions -- money, marriage, and status -- is much more comfortable to us than sharing meals with our brethren, the chimpanzees.


[You can call me an animal. I don't mind. You can even call me grandma. Just don't call me late for dinner.]