Friday, September 23, 2016

everything I know, I learned from video games

Maybe not everything, but as a substantial component of my whole life, gaming has naturally been part of how I experience the world.  Before video games, I was disturbed by the "ages 10 and over" printed on my Player's Handbook.  Not the dumbed down basic Dungeons and Dragons handbook either, but Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  I didn't think pouring over that at eight years old was so inappropriate that there should be a warning label against it.  It wasn't really the sort of gaming that appealed to me as I got older, though.

I also remember the attraction to a game like Pong.  A few pixels simulating the tossing of a ball back and forth, much simpler in gameplay than even table tennis.  Just hit the dot back and forth.. and yet, being drawn towards even that.  For a while.. I've also lost all interest in countless games, since then.  Far more elaborate and interesting games, now so much more dull and unappealing than trying pong for the first time.

There are two variables that seem to factor most heavily into that.  First, there's the novelty of it.  The fact that I was experiencing something new.  In modern games, they're often entertaining, until they become entirely predictable.  Once we've experienced everything of interest there is to experience in the game.  As the likelihood diminishes of anything new and interesting happening, it feels more and more like a waste of time.  In terms of the unconscious mechanics of that, it could be that I'm no longer learning anything.  The draw towards novelty could be a biological driver for the learning of new things.  That we hijack, in a sense, to entertain ourselves by learning things that aren't actually all that useful, or even real.

The other variable though, is in the difficulty.  There are some games that will always provide a challenge, and they tend to have more greater longevity.  Other games become trivially easy, once you've spent enough hours getting the hang of their mechanics.  This is where even a game like pong can have a draw, despite appearing entirely familiar within a matter of seconds.  This probably goes more to the central core of what gaming is primarily about for some of us.  Appealing to the impulse to test our skills.  To fail, and try again.  To get better at something.

There may be a correlation with dominance and alpha behavior, an impulse to take the bull by the horns, just to say that we could... hijacked also, rechanneled by playing harmless games.  No tormenting of bulls required.  The underlying mechanism behind what gaming strives to appeal to though, being the impulse to take on a challenge, to get better, to make progress towards greater challenges.

When we're not making progress, when we're not practicing skills or learning anything new, when we're just going through the motions to stave off boredom, it can feel like a waste of time.  A good video game though?  That can trick the brain into thinking it's making superb use of its time.

Is being tricked by evolutionary biology really any better though?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

skittle bowl refugees

Most people would run like hell from the prospect of risking themselves to save others.  Most people are terrible.  Least, as far as I understand people to be.  Sure, they're relatively nice to friends and family, but beyond that, most people are essentially psychopaths.  How much is "most" really, I don't know. Half?  Nine out of ten?  Two or three in ten, but it feels like most because I'm such a bitter old cynic?

It's difficult not to be biased about it.  Look at the people we've known, how many of them acted like self-centered pricks, figure that's probably a reasonable cross-section of humanity to call it close enough.  Or, you could look at the sorts of things people say on the internet, the people who aren't in your social circles.  Would that be more accurate?  It certainly skews perspective in the other direction.  At best, we take in as much data as we can, and call it from that.

I think most people are terrible.  Well, roughly half, with a lot of murky grey area in between.  Grey area which I'm still inclined to call terrible.  I think it's just how evolution's played out, though.  On the most basic level, we're all coded by the simple causality of it, to put our own interest above all others.  Doing so is simply, reductively, more Darwinistically effective than not doing so.

At least, until you add another level of complexity, where that straightforward rule gets causally outmaneuvered.  Groups of people who are inclined to help the group, even when doing so results in sacrificing themselves, also had the better chance of survival overall.  It was their genetic traits which proliferated, often over those groups which were prone to collapse when environmental stressors forced too many selfish decisions.  When group dynamics were critical.

Nature works in fuzzy ways though.  This isn't a binary distinction.  It runs along a continuum, from one end of the spectrum to the other.  At different times, and in different places, different proportions of these counterbalancing factors have been more or less effective.  We don't know which genes might be responsible, and what the biological mechanism might actually be - but chances are pretty good that it's something that quantifiably varies.

Some people are just going to be more altruistic than others, but there's also going to be a natural tendency towards thinking people at different places on the continuum are fundamental threatening our very existence.  The coding that tells us that the other side is wrong is there because it was an effective survival measure.  In our genetic experience, their side got everyone killed.

[the random facebook post that came across my feed, which inspired this]

Sunday, September 18, 2016

metamorphosis.

Why do I ask odd questions, like what it means to best utilize time?  Am I just picking random quirky subjects to pontificate uselessly about?  Heh, no.  That would be annoying, right?  No, to sort out cart from horse, here- I notice this irrational undercurrent to my neurotic angst,  a sense of wasting time.  It seems to underpin some of the issues I have.

I want to understand what it is that's really bothering me so much, because on its face, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  So, I blog about it.  It can be messy and awkward, it can be terrible writing, but sorting through it like this is what I do.  I often go weeks without speaking to anyone.  When I finally do, it's a cashier, or something.  I don't socialize at all.  Instead of talking to myself, I blog.  It would be great if this produced anything of value, but I'm not exactly counting on it.

So, I get into these odd questions, as if I'm lending them an importance and then getting all worked up over it.  No, if this weren't something that were really bothering me, I wouldn't be thinking about it, let alone writing about it.  I might be discussing it with people, in some universe where people have those sorts of discussions, but if I have to choose between talking to myself the way that I do, or talking to them, the way that they do?  I'll keep my solitude, thanks.

It also helps keep me awake.  It's possible that the struggle to stay awake has shaped a whole lot of how I've spent my time, over the years.  Maybe it's why I stopped doing all sorts of things.  Almost everything put me to sleep, because I was always on the edge of sleep anyhow.  A gradual calcification of poor habits, an atrophy of strengths, a slow metamorphosis into this.

This incessant fatigue is exactly what being on GH is supposed to help with, most of all.  I have been feeling somewhat better this past week.  Oddly so.. but I'm also anxious.  It's a relatively subtle change.  I don't know how temporary.  The old baseline always seems to come creeping back.  A bit like an anti-placebo effect, I'm very skeptical, but I'm also feeling better for the time being, and that's not nothing.

My entire life, from how I live to how I think, a product of feeling the way I have.  That's not going to change all that easily, or maybe even all that much, but still, finally feeling somewhat better is not nothing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

atman

So, after sifting through all that, I am struck by a few things.  First of all, I can see how someone reading it might get the impression that I wasn't really tripping at all.  Just going on like I always do, with maybe a little more fluidity and random jumping around.  It was well within my experience of what shrooms do to me, though.  

I don't really hallucinate much, per se.  I just think a lot, I get really focused.  If I stare at a pattern on the carpet, I might notice that it's moving.  Faces might look oddly caricaturized and alien.  I might notice quirks in colors and lighting. I guess these are hallucinations.  I just don't seem to care that much about them, as they're happening.  I'm too obsessively distracted by this philosophical problem I'm trying to solve. 

Shrooming also skews my perspective in strange ways, and seems to make me prone to making odd logical leaps, assumptions, and conflating incoherent details.  Given my familiarity with all that, I've become somewhat resistant to it, but still left with the obsessive focus.  It was a solid trip though.  It could have been stronger, but it could also have been much weaker.  I was decently fucked up.

Another takeaway though, is the recurring concept by which I conflate the imperative for living, thriving, with the more easily brutalized imperative to believe in who we are.  As if to suggest that part of why I live the way I do, is because this is where my sense of identity has lead me.  That honestly, it hasn't all been about circumstances dumping me here.  I have made a lot of choices along the way too - and call me crazy, but I'm inclined to stand by them.

Not in the sense that this is exactly where I wanted to end up, but that, the manner in which I navigated my life circumstances has been the playing out of all the moving parts that coalesce into my sense of self.   Suggesting that my sense of survival is threatened by the prospect that I might be wrong in some personally fundamental way.  We can be wrong, we can learn and grow, but that if I keep making the same sorts of choices, maybe I don't really think I'm wrong.  

It's not really about being right or wrong, though.  It's about being me.  Believing in being me.  This natural impulse might become hypervigilant after being heavily threatened.  A learned response, as opposed to just this stupid thing I do.  Even the hypervigilance then becomes something that I can believe in, even if it might not appear to be the most healthy approach.  Not a good choice, in an isolated abstract view, but in the context of everything else, a very sensible choice.

It was a bit like an intense therapy session, trying to bolster my own mental health.  Maybe I did have a plan, after all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

hypergraphic as fuck

What is it to want to utilize time?  Make the most of it.  Make the most of a trip, or a free afternoon, or a spare few decades?  Not to deride the impulse, but what is it really?  What is boredom?  Why does it go away, if I just go lay down?  How is that always a good use of time, as far as this underlying brain process goes?

Preparing for when I might want to use it later.  Maybe I'll have something figured out by then.  I guess sometimes I do.  Ok, I need to shop or whatever.  Good thing I'm rested.. but what is it, to get stuck in a loop, where life is 99% preparing for mundane little tasks I might have to do?  At that point, am I really preparing because it's needed, or undermining my ability to even do the little things, because I've become so accustomed to resting?  This is an easy conclusion to draw, from a random cross-section of my experience, where it all looks crazy.  What are you doing?  Go out and do stuff, and you'll be more accustomed to doing stuff!  Without seeing the countless ways in which, oh, going and doing stuff hasn't worked out that well.  I've learned to stop doing it to myself.

Resting and preparation is about trying to find some way of making it go better in the future, because the way it went back when I had all sorts of stuff to do, taught me that it wasn't a good idea.  Am I the same person decades later?  That is the question, right?  Shrooming doesn't seem to answer it.  I don't have all sorts of stuff to do now.  I don't know if I could handle it.  I don't know if the bare minimum of stuff I do would be better replaced with a more busy schedule.  The answer sometimes feels like a very resounding no, but who can say for sure.  That resounding no is reinforced by fear.  Maybe not.  Maybe that would be awful, and then what.  I still have all this shit to do, after working so hard to get my life to the point where I can waste 99% of it trying to feel better.  It is a waste, right?  Do I know that?  Am I succeeding?  Failing?  Can I do anything differently, even if I want to?

These are all the sort of automatic questions I ask myself, without really thinking about it.  Sometimes I think maybe I should get into taking a better look at those questions.  Why not.  I have all this free time I've set aside to do it.

I have no idea.  I don't know if the way other people live is better.  I don't know if they have anything to offer me as far as solutions go.  I don't know if I'm doing the best that I can, or fucking everything up.  In a sense, we all might have these doubts, these concerns, should we look to others?  Or are they even more clueless, because it's not their lives being asked about?  We all cobble together an approach that tries to do some of both.  We lean on each other a bit, we depend on our own devices, we stumble through the hurricane as best we can.

This is brilliant and all, but it's a simplification.  It sounds nice.  I don't know if it really address the question, when you get into specifics regarding why some people do way better at navigating than others.  We all do what we can, that's a great catch all, but specifically, in regards to my life, what should I be doing?

I can't ask anyone.  Nobody has any idea.  Not really.  It seems nobody possibly could.  Should I take their lousy advice anyhow, out of desperation?  That seems like a bad plan.  I've tried it.  Hasn't gone well.  Shouldn't need to keep doing it to understand why.

So what can I do?  Well, I am trying.  I'm always trying.  Whether I'm just keeping it together day to day, or trying to get more exercise or deal with doctors, take vitamins, meditate, clean my apartment.  I am trying.

What do you think I'm doing?  Is it good enough?  For what?  Do I really need to be moving forward more quickly?  Proving something to someone?  Myself?  That I am trying?  Is that really a good reason to do more?  It is, if it's the mechanism by which I do more, when I would benefit by doing more.

Since I don't even know what "more" is, should I really be worrying about it?  I just know that taking it slow and steady, chugging along as best I can.. next thing I know, years have passed.  I lose touch with people, because I was in my own little holding pattern.

That's a random tangent, isn't it?  What does it mean, to ask how people are doing regularly?  To get these constant little updates, so that they don't slip away.  Like everyone does.  Because I let them.  Or is that too self-centric.  They let me.

Ok, that's fine, everyone has that right, but if the common denominator is me, it's me that I should probably be concerned about.  Random people can go their own way, but if everyone is leaving me to my solitude, there might be something I could be doing differently.

What does this have to do with feeling better?  Living life more fully?  What do other people have to do with living life more fully?  Is that what I'm asking myself, really?

It's fine to question assumptions, but to overlook answers simply for being obvious is probably not smart.  I'd like to be a part of other people's lives.  I'd like to see their kids grow up, and stand around awkwardly like part of the family..?

It's normal that I want to be a part of that, to feel more connected with life.. but it might also be normal that I let it go, because standing around awkwardly on the outskirts might not be the best solution.  It's a healthy impulse, and yet also a healthy impulse to avoid, given the realities of it.. and what I come up with is that all these different causal factors are actually kind of sound.  I'm doing the best I can, in a very specific sense.

It just doesn't have the greatest outcome.  The outcome actually kind of sucks, as I watch it all slip away, but that's life.  If I'm doing the best I can, maybe I shouldn't worry about it so much.  It will slip away.  That's what life does.  It could be better.  A whole lot better.  That's how life goes, too.  That doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong, or that I need to try harder.  Maybe I just need to relax.

See, but the chorus of other people's opinions rains down on me.  I relax more than anyone ever!  I can't possibly need to relax even more!  All those people who I've kept out of my life, so that I could better relax.  I suppose it makes sense that they wouldn't see the logic of what I'm doing.. but that doesn't mean that they're right.  I don't know.  I'm doing the best I can.

I can keep saying that until it's true, right?  I've been fighting them all back, my whole life, and then wondering where they all went.  This all makes sense, but for this one kernal of a question.  Are they right?  Or am I?

These people, these voices, do they even exist?  I am assuming.  Their actual opinions could vary all over the place, and maybe I do push them away, when that's not even what they think.  I have no idea.  I think it's a good guess.  I've heard it a lot.  I get hyper-reactionary to hearing it again.  It can't be right.  Maybe I need to be more self-assured in that, to better face it incessently coming up.

It's not that simple.  I cna't just restructure my entire life to do more stuff, to appease some overarching idea that this is what I should be doing.  Wait, isn't that what everyone does?  I don't know.  Maybe.  They grow into it though.  It doesn't fall into place, there's a whole organic process by which people get eachother to do more stuff, and I'm not even sure it's a good thing.

I can concede that it might be.  I can certainly see the merits of it.  I can also see that it's a whole array of data points that don't match up to my life.  You can't just "start somewhere" just to do more stuff like everyone else, because that's the healthy thing to do.. because everyone else is so happy and healthy?  No, actually they're not.  Not everyone.

Maybe more people would be better served by chilling the fuck out, instead.  I don't know.  I keep coming back to this.  I don't know about anyone else.  I don't even know about my self.  I've barely got this sorted out.  Every situation is different.

Or is it.  Have I been led astray by this very sort of thinking?  They would cheer, yes!  Yes!  Listen to us!  Where does that come from, to be so assured that we not only know what we're doing with our own lives, but we know what someone else should do with theirs?

Here's where I'd ask if it's just a chemical difference, but that's not just a pointless question.  Is it a difference based in chemistry or the logic we largely assume?  The geneology of better ideas?  Do what other people say, until your life goes well enough that you can tell other people what to do?

There is a logic to that, but it's also one that *can* go awry.  Operating mechnically, overlooking details, driving things in the wrong direction.  That does happens all the time.  Just not enough to be Darwinistically wrong.

A mechanic to be wary of.  It seems to yield bad advice, but it's also got persistance built into it.  Keep going! right?  Right over a cliff sometimes, but oops, the advice is still generally sound.  Just try not to be the one driven over the cliff by it.

I almost never read this stuff later.  I guess, because I'm afraid it will be disappointing.  I hope for it to be rich with brilliant or at least novel ideas, but it's just drivel.  On and on.  Each idea more interesting to me, at the time.  Even the most mundane.  That I think they'll be interesting later.. maybe they are though.  I'm not sure.

I should at least try reading it.  I think what I might find though is that it's the same old things I think every day.  All laid out, as if it's something new, that I really need to remember.  To some extent, this is what I always do, right?  Blogging? I've been saying the same things my whole life.  It's all the same.  Or is it?

Question every idea, - or, for fucks sake, why do I question every damn little thing?  No it's not interesting!  To me it is?  Really?  Are you sure?  I don't know what else to do.  Tell me what to do, so I can say that's a terrible idea, and go back to doing this.

It FEELS like this is how I always think.  The difference is in the fire that has me writing it all down.  Not in the thoughts themselves.  That impulse might still be valuable, just not in the way it seems.  That can be decided later.. but maybe I never will.  Never decide anything, because I'm never really sure.  Just have to default to being me, I guess.

That's what we all do, right?  That's what you always say.  Others might differ.  We go over this all the time.  You say that I guess we're all just different flowers, with our own little worldviews, based on a myriad of complexities that made it that way.. and they say no, you stupid fuck.  Get a damn job!  Go to school, do something!  Stop making excuses!  You're worthless the way that you are.  It literally isn't good for anything, and you even make yourself miserable.  We're just trying to help you, but we've all abandoned you, because you never listen.  You just drive us away.. because you never accepted me.

You never valued me, the way that I am.  You don't.  You're happy to leave me alone, right?  People are dishonest.  They don't like to admit that ok, that's a little fucked up.  Maybe that does go sideways, to a dangerous degree, when we drive it too hard.. so they all leave.  and I get so lonely, I pretend they're still harassing me.

When I'm on shrooms, I feel objective.  I think this is just how all the pieces fit together.  This is just how it is.  That seemed revelatory to me once.. but now I question it.  Do I just want to think this is how the pieces fit, because I'm do desperate to stop trying?

Always looking for an excuse to just let go, and that's really the pinnacle of such an excuse.  Does that make me wrong?  Does that make me wrong on a personal level, and more broadly, how does that apply to everyone else?  Are my ideas of significance to anyone else's life?  Are they more right, in consensus?  Right, just for me?  Or more broadly, kind of wrong?  How the hell am I supposed to know?

This is what I mean, when I say that everyone is different.  We're not all special flowers.  I mean that we make sense of things as best we can, and that is naturally going to vary all over the place, given all the differences in our lives.  It's not that nobody's ideas are right, and nobodies are wrong, but that right and wrong isn't the bottom line.  Can we see the difference? Can we follow it?  We will try.  That's what we do.  We get it wrong a lot.  Such is life.

Don't give up, but don't think it really matters all that much, either.  It's organic.  It grows where it can.  It withers where it can't.  We do our best to move toward the light, and we hold onto whatever niche we can find.

Being objective about that isn't giving up.  It's about manipulating the precise situation with as much finesse as I can manage, because it hasn't gone that well for me.  I'm still alive though.  By some very rational measures, I'm just doing what life does, and to berate me for that is silly.  So are you.  It just went differently, in your case.

This is not glib excuse making.  It's nice that I question everything, and give everyone their chance to possibly have a good point.  It's nice that I doubt myself, instead of barrelling on through one terrible idea after another.. but objectively speaking.  Stupid people shouting that life is simple are probably so wrong.

They can't even raise houseplants.  Seriously.  Many of them can't.  Respect their views, but if you think yours isn't comparable?  I don't need to make sweeping generalizations about how they're all idiots, but there is a very good chance my ideas are better than theirs.  Objectiely speaking, I can be totally right, but life can still suck.  Objectively speaking, I could listen to their bad advice, and make it worse.  I probably shouldn't do that.

I should probably stop feeling bad about myself, too.  I might be wrong, yeah.  We all know people who would say that I am.  Investing further in who I am just seems to make more sense than dumping that, to invest in someone else's questionable ideas at this point in my life.  It makes sense for me to continue growing the way I have been.  It is, most likely, the best available course.

No, there isn't any way to be sure of that.  Yes, there are some very undesirable components to that, but you don't upheave everything to repot a plant, unless you have somewhere better to put it.  What I did do, moving to Vermont, basically amounts to repotting, and what I'm doing now amounts to making the best of that, given some very damaged roots.

It is extraordinary, the amount of energy I expend feeling bad about the views of people who rarely even bother expressing them.  They might think I'm wrong.  They might admit they don't really know.  They would probably agree that they don't actually care all that much, not only making it a silly thing to worry about, but drastically increasing the chances of them being wrong, anyhow.

So I spend all this energy fighting it off, like some weed that keeps taking root in my own psyche.. so much so, that it even says, are you fighting off bad ideas, really?  Or do you know we're right, and you've always been wrong about everything?  Do you know?  Are you sure?  because if you're not sure, we're never going away.  The people propogating these terrible ideas are certainly never going to stop doing so, even as they grow increasingly irrelevant to me personally.

I feel denied a proper battle, to see whose ideas are really worse.  This is a normal fighting spirit.  We want our own ideas to be strong, and to prosper.  Is it really about which is right?  Or is it just about self-preservation?  Is it really that one plant is better than another, or just about making sure that the plant we have thrives?  I don't need to go kill their ideas to accomplish that, but I do need to make sure they stop undercutting my own.

This is me.  This is not an ethical statement, or a logical statement.  I'm just trying to live.  In all likelyhood, I'm going to keep doing that, and I'm going to do it as effectively as I can.  I don't have to be better than everyone else.  I don't have to be better than anyone else.  I don't have to prove anything.  I just have to live..

No, I'm not always going to be content with that, and it may even go very badly, but all available evidence sure seems to suggest that I'm doing the best that I can.. and that isn't going to always make me feel better.

We aren't coded to be happy with taking a defensive posture.  Just holding out, against the onslaught of everyone else.  No, we want to be right, we want to spread, and prevail, beyond ourselves.  I don't know though.  This world is crazy.  I have no idea what makes sense for anyone else.

Maybe this makes my ideas weak, but objectively speaking, that's understandable, too.  I'm radically outnumbered, and should be happy to even have the means to take up a defensible position.

It's a strange feeling, to think so much has occurred, as the rest of the world doesn't even notice.  Much occurred in some of their lives, too.  Not so much, in others.  The epic tales of each of our lives, played out on a stage we alone can see.  Some of us, more alone than others.

I want to shy away from that.  It sounds sad and theatrical.  Don't sound sad.  Melodramatic.  All these value judgements people have.  These are just different types of people, trying to thrive in their own way.

If your way is to be melodramatic, so be it.  Some aren't going to like that.  Some are.  I don't know why I always have to try to distill everything into something greater than that.  It has to be right.  It has to be logically sound, and defensible, and covered with teeth and spikes.

I'm not supposed to admit that I'm just scared.  I'm just trying to live.  Me.  The person that I am.  I don't even know who or what that is exactly. I just have the sense that it should be able to grow in whichever paths it finds most natural.

This isn't always true.  Sometimes you want to force growth a certain, to create a stronger plant.. but sometimes you just want the damn thing to be able to survive.  Before you can even think about anything like that.

Given that I'm so unsure of the sort of plant I'm even dealing with here, maybe that's not such an unrealistic concern.  There are so many data points.  So much that goes into making us who we are, so many variables that we assess to make our decisions.  It's impossible to juggle all of it.  We just try the best we can, given the means life has so far provided us with.

Why am I constantly trying to tell myself that it's all ok.  Reassuring myself.  Does this mean I'm afraid it's not ok?  Is this a crack through which someone else's ideas might take root instead?  Of course.. but it's also a pretty solid wall.  I've worked hard on it.  That may very well have been the most sensible thing I could do, all things considered.

I want this to go somewhere, but it just goes in circles.  Right?  Have I come up with any answers at all, really?  Maybe I should just meditate.  Try to be silent.

My head is like a constant torrent of questions.  Are they my questions?  Someone else's?  People I've known, things I've read, some of them makes more sense than others.. but it's endless.  The impulse to write seems to be this idea that if I can get it down, if I can answer.. it will stop.

Are they good questions or not?  Another question.  Round and round foever, as far as I can tell.  Least, until it stops.  Maybe I should try to make it just stop.  Breath.  Focus on the breath.  Let the mind catch its own tale.

 * * *

..So, not only is that really difficult, but it puts me to sleep when I succeed.  How many times has that bitten me in the ass.  I can relax.  It'll be fine..  only to wake up later having missed something I really didn't want to miss.  Meditating without that happening is a good skill to practice, but now may not be the ideal time for it.  I want to see what I can accomplish, I might try again later, but for now, the risk of just slipping into lala land seems too great.

"It's fine.  Sleep.  Why not.  Do what you feel like doing."  Yeah, great.  40 years later.  Fuck you.  Or at the very least, I don't want my trip to vanish into the night, with that sort of whimper.  It's all about experience, and not squandering it.

All drugs are, right?  Isn't that what addiction is all too often about?  Trying to live.  Trying to break up the monotony of numbness, of being the same old me, day in, day out.  I want to feel more than that.  People turn to different drugs, for reasons that put very different sorts of spins on the longing for experience, but that is the loose premise so much of it boils down to right?

This is why you put an addict in rat park, and suddenly they don't want the drug.  They just wanted to do things.  They want to experience more than the situation that they're in, internally, externally, and sometimes drugs are the only way to do that.  This is why the worst addicts do more and more, combining them, taking risks.. anything to live more fully, than the shit they face every day.  We even risk our lives, if we feel we're not really living, anyhow.

In part, it's a problem of familiarity.   The brain processes new information differently.  It needs to sort it out.  It focuses.  It questions.  It experiences.

Once we know it's safe, we know how to handle it, we know what we're dealing with.. the brain is coded to settle down.  Do what it learned.  Go through the motions, no need to hyper-analyze everything.  No need to feel everything.  Whatever the case may be, in a given brain's particular manner of acquiring familiarity.  Once we know it well, it all starts to blur together.  We barely even remember it.

So, the question is, can we train the mind to live more fully?  If that's what we're really going for, can it be done without drugs?  That's like asking if it can be done without physically living more fully.  Can it also be done without being given a rat park to play in?

Or, should we learn to be ok with the quiet shutting down of our senses.  The going to sleep.  Letting life slip away unlived.  That's what it feels like.  Can we convince ourselves that it's ok?  Go to sleep?  You're alive until you're not, and all your fussing over living "more" is just silly?

I don't know.  More questions.. but at least the questions keep me awake.  I don't know if it's objectively superior, this struggle to live more fully, or the struggle to calm the fuck down.  I just do what I can to try to understand it.

How many great ideas were honestly born of solitude, anyhow?  How many people come up with answers just tossing questions around on their own?  My impulse to summon phantoms to argue with makes sense, too.  Not ideal, but I am making do.

Asking questions of imaginary idiots, to keep myself awake.  It's absurd right.. but how many things look absurd, when looked at from absurd angles.  And make sense, when you look at them more seriously.

Maybe I'm not really trying to answer anything.  I'm just trying to milk as much life from living as I can.  This is not the most normal way of going about it, but this is why I don't choose the most normal drugs to accomplish that.  Alcoholics are trying to live more fully, in a different sort of way.  A way in which I can, at times, appreciate also.  I can also appreciate the push for more and more, and being plastered yet again starts to feel all too familiar.

I did get carried away.. not just sometimes, but too regularly.  I haven't had any beer (or anything harder) in a few weeks.  I think I might be better off without it.  I feel like I understand addiction, without completely losing myself to it, but it gets sketchy sometimes.

Am I better off without cannabis, too?  Well, I'd say that it does have some benefits, aside from just feeding the craving to suck the life out of living.  It would be much more valuable to be able to use in moderation, than to not do at all.. but yes, I struggle with moderation.  I'm having some success though.  I realize I got carried away for a while, and have scaled it back.

This tangent on addiction really brings me back full circle, as well as ties together a running theme.  I'm trying to make the best use of the time I have.  I'm just trying to live.  More.  Who isn't?

Monday, September 12, 2016

laziest artist ever

Writing is one of the only things I seem to be able to motivate myself to do.  The catch is that I have to write this drivel.  I'm writing more of it lately, because I've lost interest in politics for the time being.  I have to write about something though, so I just babble about my issues or whatever.  Maybe some good will come of it.

Sometimes I worry that it isn't anything worth reading, but that's not really why I do it.  It just comes easily to me.  I don't have to set my superego up with a bullhorn and a cattle prod.  I just think maybe I'll write something, and so I do.  Not much else works that way for me.

I used to draw that way, too.  I tried to transition to painting, to get more serious about my artwork, but that seemed to ruin it.  Painting required too much stuff.  Too much preparation, too much money, too much physical space taken up by every lousy painting.  I hit these little speed bumps, and I'm all, ah, fuck it.  Too much work.

I did clean my apartment today, though.  Even vacuumed, which isn't something I've done in years.  Took a little bit of internal yelling and prodding, but not too bad.  I wonder if I'm feeling better.  I wonder if I'll be able to tell the difference if I am.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

psychoanalytic self-portraiture

I guess that in some ways, I do still believe that it all comes down to a better understanding of ourselves.  Whether we're trying to understand the meaning of life, or figure out how to overcome our neurosis, to accomplish whatever nonsense we think we need to accomplish.  I often come back to trying to understand myself.  What is it that I'm really looking for?  What's going on under the hood, behind the contrived facade, orchestrating my intent to go this way or that?

I desperately want to understand motivation.  I want to understand why it sometimes involves actually doing things, and other times it just fizzles out.  I want to understand this in scientific terms.  I might think it were obvious, if it weren't going so sideways in my case.

Sometimes I get this glimpse into an underlying process by which I seem to feel that if I'm not enjoying myself, I'm wasting time.   As in, whatever precious time I've got left in this sputtering life, I don't want to waste it doing dishes.  It's not a rational thought.  I know that.  It's childish and annoying.  It's not a thought that passes through my rational mind, though.  It's something I can see, beneath the surface, where I don't know how to get at it.

So I get maddeningly impatient, I have trouble focusing, etc. Is the thought a product of chemistry, or does the thought have some influence over the chemistry?  If the thought is just a product of causes, this negates the issue of its influence.  It doesn't matter what else a thought in turn causes, because that thought is going to happen, regardless.  It's being caused by something else.

Maybe not everyone believes in the concept of an unconscious mind, or that it's quite so major a part of the equation. It seems almost indisputable to me, so I assume most would agree.. and then wonder why we don't agree on much of anything, in which that fundamental distinction is predicated.

Sometimes I do the dishes anyhow.  Sometimes easily.  Sometimes with some degree inner crying and whining about it, that I get over.  Sometimes, not now, no fucking way.  Not due to any notable pattern in mood, other than the basic ability to get up and do something I don't feel like doing.  I want to know what that variable is, and how I might somehow apply CPR.

Some of my problems are trickier than dishes.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

neurotypically speaking

I've often wondered what the world would be like, if we could even get a glimpse of how other people experience it.  I think most of us would be shocked at just how much it varies.  I strongly suspect that experiencing the world as someone else for a while would make for one hell of a trip.

We have these countless little dials, everything that impacts us, everything we value, everything we assume to be objectively significant, but must vary in degrees from person to person.  Dials that within a certain range, are considered well within the margin of sanity.  Yet, can really vary all over the place.

From the moment we open our eyes, what's it like to get up in the morning?  We have morning people, morning-hating people, and people with bi-polar mania, OCD, and severe clinical depression.  What happens when a "morning person" gets to experience what it's like to wake up suicidal?  To truly be trapped in that entirely different mindset?  Would it change their opinions and behavior towards people who don't get going quite as easily as they do?  Every moment, of every day, we experience the world through all these personal parameters.  None being objective or factual.  Nothing that science can help up to come to any concrete consensus on.  Sanity is basically just defined as the range we're most familiar with.

The assumptions about what we all agree matters.. without really knowing what other people think, aside from what they can communicate, and we can logically infer - but we do so in an inherently biased way, in which we assume others to be neurotypical until they indicate otherwise - and still, we may miss all sorts of signs, because we're so determined to see normalcy ..and how do we define said normalcy, without knowing anyone's experiences but our own?

It all skews toward people assuming the rest of the world is much like themselves.  Even when they're nuts.  Some of us feel well outside the norm for one reason or another, some more accurately so than others, but exactly how far, and in exactly what ways?   It only matters because it's how we seem to define sanity.  Without consensus, what?  Sanity is just whatever we think makes sense?  Even if we're the one who might be nuts?

How much sanity itself matters, like everything else, also varies.  Why would someone care whether they're sane or not?  One way in which it varies, is that some do, more than others.  One possible reason for this being that sanity equates to being aware of reality.  What's actually in front of us, and not some delusion.  In the very simple sense of wanting to be sure that we're not obliviously walking headlong into a wood chipper.  The more concerned a person is about their safety and security, the more they might care about this slippery concept we call sanity.  Why people are more concerned about their safety then varies; the parameters of their amygdala, their experiences, whether they feel the world is generally safe, or not.  Whether they're the sort of person who would care.  All these steps coalesce into very different sorts of worldviews.

I was looking forward to the farmer's market opening this year, as it makes it so much easier to regularly buy fresh ingredients.  It's much closer to where I live than the grocery.  Yet, I only went once all season.  I agonize about going every week, but I'm too neurotic.  I struggle with how personal they are, how person to person.  How I never know what they'll have, so I often need to make decisions on the fly.  With some person standing there in their little stall, smiling at me awkwardly.  Sometimes I just sleep too late, to get there by 2pm, when they close.

Not only that, but last time I saw my cousin, she suggested going to the market together.  Sure, just let me know, one of these Sundays.  Or I'll call you.  Either way.. except we've both got our reasons for never calling.  I don't know what hers are.  I know she's a bit of a shy person herself.. maybe she's waiting for me to call.  Maybe no one told her that I was crazy, and she should probably call me first.  Or she's just been busy.  Who knows.. but I don't call her, why?  I don't know why.  I don't know what to say.  I'm not sure I want to go.  What am I getting myself into.  What if I end up agreeing to be trapped in some hellscape for the rest of eternity.  Or maybe just a few hours in the hot sun.  Same difference.  Or maybe I just can't think of the best way of saying hello.  Really, it's a lot of guesswork trying to figure out why exactly people make me want to barricade myself into my bedroom and never come out again.

Anyhow, it's ridiculous, that this combination of issues I have has resulted in me never going.  It's annoying in the abstract, it's frustrating that I'm basically still a social being, who just can't handle being social.. but it's also a fucking pain in the ass, when it makes it difficult for me to even get some vegetables to make a curry with.  If I could simply cut it the fuck out, I sure as hell would.  There is no way for me to convey what it's like.  Putting it into words never seems to do it.  I don't even believe myself.  It makes no sense.

A paradigm shift in worldview can be as real as anything is.  The massive amount of information bouncing around in our heads, defining everything we think we know.  If only we could swap that out for a while.  Experience what it's like when someone else's twisted reality feels just as real as our own.  Maybe the world would be a much less lonely place.  Least my version of it probably would be.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

building routines

I have nothing to say.  I hate when I have nothing to say.  I feel burned out and withdrawn.  I overthink everything, because I don't understand what I'm going through.  If this is pretty normal, why doesn't anyone else live like me?  I don't understand it.  I don't know what to do about it.  So, I think about it.  A lot.

I'm fine.  Relatively speaking.  Just in some kind of rut.  Is the Omnitrope going to start helping soon?  Am I feeling worse, because I'm no longer deferring self-flagellation?  I just want to have more energy.  The motivation to do things I enjoy doing.  I'm not even aiming particularly high, but I hate being in survival mode.  Every day, more shit I can't deal with, just get through it, hope I feel better tomorrow.  Sometimes I do feel better tomorrow.  Sometimes, I feel worse.  It sure would be nice if I could figure out what makes that difference.

Running is one of the ways I both measure how well I'm doing, as well as give myself something to aim for.  It's one of the easiest rungs to reach, usually, and if I'm at least doing that, I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.. but I've been stumbling a lot.  So far, still too many days, where it just seems like, no fucking way.  Maybe tomorrow.

Cooking is another one, but it requires organization, planning, buying the right groceries, knowing that I'll use them before they perish.  It's more difficult than going for a run.  Lately, I've had to get creative with very little to work with.  When I finally do get shopping, I keep it simple.  I can't be planning anything interesting.  I'm not there, yet.

Another step past that though, would be just being able to read a book.  I don't get why that's become so difficult for me.  I'm not alone in that, really.  There are lots of book hating people out there.  I just wasn't supposed to be one of them.  I wasn't one of them, until I was.  Lots of people hate running, and have no patience for cooking, too.  They often decide they should exercise more, cook more, read more.  They often fail.

This in itself is not uncommon.  What strikes me as less common is for an avid reader to stop reading.  A cooking enthusiast to stop cooking.  Exercising regularly for years, to not exercising at all.  There are elements of pattern, familiarity and ritual to these things people do.  I get so much anxiety about travelling because it disrupts my daily routine, that I've spend months working on building up.  I stop doing things because I lose the continuity of it.   I get back a week later, and should be able to pick up where I left off, but just sort of fall apart instead.

Anyhow, when I have nothing to say, at least I can always overthink why that is.. figure it's a good exercise though.  Maybe if I can get the parts moving, I'll find myself having more to say, tomorrow.  Same reason I run, really.  Just trying like hell to get the parts moving.