How To Get Almost Nothing Done.

I need to get my head on straight here. I have been procrastinating all morning. Watching various videos. Leaving status updates on Facebook. Posting drawings on Instagram. It is 12:03pm and I am still wearing the clothes I slept in. Why am I doing this? What is it that I am looking for? It certainly feels easier than dealing with all the things I need to get done.

My toilet has been wobbling for weeks. Need to bolt it to the blue tiled floor. My bathroom walls have holes that need to be patched up. I have closets and a garage that are filled with junk and in desperate need of being organized. I have yet to return phone calls that are days old. I have several unfinished novels and short stories begging for my attention. I need to pay bills and call the financial aid office because I am in so much debt that I have not even bothered thinking about paying it back. For years and years. I could go on and on with the things that I am not taking care of but this doesn’t sound like fun.

There is currently a public service announcement on the college radio station that I have on, which is recommending taking deep breaths as an antidote to the epidemic of stress that fills all our jam-packed lives. Instead of breathing, I seem to have chosen retreating. The more that I must get done it seems that the less I want to do. I am like a person who eats a lot to lose weight. It is reverse logic. I realize that the more I retreat the heavier my life will get. But for whatever reason, a large part of me is all right with this.

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who are pro-active and organized. These people usually are very good at doing things that do not have an immediate benefit but require being fully committed, effort and consistency. They are not afraid of hard work even though it may not be fun. It seems easy for them to work hard at something that they are interested in for long periods of time. These are usually the people whose films we watch, houses we buy, books we read, classes we take, restaurants we eat in, planes we fly on, surgeries we subject ourselves to and on and on. Then there are those people who do just enough to get by. The only thing they really stick with is not sticking to things. They give the minimum amount of effort to just get by and then when things get hard they retreat. They go take a nap. Read. Drink a beer. Read. Go on Facebook or Instagram. Read. Listen to music. Nap. Read. This second kind of person is me.

Isn’t a blogger someone who wants to do the minimum amount of work in order to still remain a writer? This would be me. As soon as working on a novel or a short story gets tough, I become frustrated and bored and want to do something else. In fact, whenever anything gets boring or frustrating I seem unwilling to put in the work it would require to get it done. Instead, I go do something else that feels more fun even if this means sitting on my couch and staring out my window for hours. I do just enough to get by and it is only when I reach a crisis point or things get urgent that I will do more.

Isn’t this what the status quo means? Doing just enough to get by and then enjoying your life (or not) on your off time? Go work on your car, take out the boat, work in the garden, listen to records, clean your home, go to a movie, hang out with friends, read a book, watch a Netflix series. You work your job because you need the money and then when work is done you just hang out. To answer my own question, yes- this is the status quo. What would not be the status quo would be putting consistent effort into something that you are interested in but may or may not work out down the line. Even though I am not happy about it, I seem to have chosen the status quo. Life just feels easier this way.

I know an older man who feels like he has failed in his life. His life has been filled with anxiety, worry and despair. He has worked hard at his job as a social worker for thirty plus years but he told me that when he is done with work all he thinks about is resting and chilling out. “This is how I avoid stuff,” he tells me. I see him sitting there with his large belly, his marital problems, his expenses, his dislike of his job, his tired face, his head filled with stress and worries and I can not help but feel terrified that this man might be me in ten years. But how does one change this tendency to make a hundred excuses for why they do not have to fold the laundry, keep working on the novel, stay in the relationship, pay all the bills, exercise or call the financial aid office right now? I am a psychotherapist and I have no idea. Some bad habits seem hard wired so deep in our brains that we will do just enough, make the bare minimum effort to try and figure them out. Then when this feels like no fun anymore, we will drop it and go do something else.

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FINAL STATUS UPDATE

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #1: I can’t do this anymore. I put so much out there and get so little back. I put such effort into each of my Status Updates. I think about them and try to make them as beneficial to others as I can. But I get nothing. Or very little. Just a few likes. Mostly none. I see other people who get tons of likes and loves on everything they post. These people post nothing special but everyone loves all their Status Updates. I just don’t understand. I post stuff and it’s like a drop of water falling into a large lake. Not even a ripple. I feel underappreciated and discouraged. My on-line presence does not seem to matter to anyone. Sometimes I will get something back from others but it is usually like giving a piece of bread to a starving person. It just doesn’t do the trick. I quit.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #2: Um…..I know that I said I quit the Facebook Status Update thing last night but I was wondering if I could have my Facebook Status Update status back?

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #3: I don’t know what the point of this is. Why do I keep updating my status several times a day? Why do I keep thinking about what I will write for my Status Updates as I am walking down a street or eating dinner with my wife? My Facebook Status Updates seem to be taking over my entire mind. This can’t be healthy. Facebook cannot be healthy thing for all of us to be doing. I should not be doing this anymore. I put all this effort into each of my Status Updates but no one says anything. Why do I do it? What is the point? It is not like getting “Likes” or “Loves” from other people is in any way going to improve my life. Every time I post something I just become uncomfortably aware of how insignificant my on-line presence really is. What is the point of all this? I just can’t do it anymore. I am done.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #4: I know that I said I was done yesterday, but maybe I was a bit too hasty. I hope you will give me another chance. Maybe Facebook Status Updates are important to me. Maybe I need to be able to express myself in this kind of social way. My wife tells me that it is good for me to try and connect with others in an authentic way. If I am honest in my Status Updates, then others can know how I really feel. This could be good for me and maybe I should not write it off just yet. I am back everyone!

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #5: So this is really not working out for me. I think it is a complete waste of time. I used to read books. I used to make art and write fictional stories. I used to exercise. Now I don’t do any of those things anymore. Whatever free time I have, I am on Facebook most of the time. I am leaving Status Updates that no one seems to respond to. I am reading other people’s Status Updates and scrolling through the news feed. I am getting upset about how much attention other people’s Status Updates receive. I am clicking on various links that people post. This is how I am spending my time and I don’t know that it is a good thing. My wife does the same thing and we don’t talk with one another much anymore. We certainly don’t have sex much anymore. What is going on here? What the hell are we all doing? I don’t hang out with people anymore. Instead, I connect on Facebook. This can’t be a good thing! I don’t want this anymore in my life. It’s not healthy. I am done. I am out. Once I post this FINAL STATUS UPDATE I will delete the Facebook App from my phone. Goodbye everyone. It has been fun but I must call it a day. Take care!

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #6: I know it has only been a few days but I have had a change of heart. Since I quit Facebook I have felt lonelier. I miss my friends. I no longer get to see the people that I have become used to seeing everyday on Facebook. I like a lot of you and I was thinking that if I quit Facebook I will never again be in touch with most of you, if not all of you. Once I go off Facebook you are all dead to me and this makes me sad. It is important to have friends in your life and most of my friends are here. In my non-Facebook life, I am a loner. I hang out with my wife and my dogs. But on Facebook I get to see everyone whom I have been friends with for years. I get to stay in touch with all of you and that is a special thing. So I am not ready to end my relationship with all of you. I don’t want to let all of you go. I know that a lot of you don’t acknowledge my Status Updates, but that is ok. This is a good way for all of us to stay in touch so if you don’t mind I think I will hang out around here for a while.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #7: Facebook is just not working out for me. I know it has been only a week since I have been back but this is just not working. I already have enough anxiety in my life, do I need more? I just don’t understand why most people do not seem to respond in any way to my Status Updates. It is as if most of you are ignoring me. Are you guys pissed off at me? Do you not like me? Why do you never respond to my Status Updates? This passive aggressive behavior is driving me nuts. There are several people on Facebook whom I think I am close friends with but none of you ever say anything with regards to my Updates. I just don’t get it. Everything I post it feels like I am met with complete silence. I appreciate those few of you who “Like” or “Love” some of the things I post. I appreciate the few comments that I occasionally get (especially the ones that are not trying to be funny). I really do. But most of you are silent. What is going on here? If you are pissed off at me just tell me. If you don’t like my Status Updates, then let me know. Being met with this kind of stonewalled silence from all of you drives me nuts. What is the point of posting all the time and none of you ever say anything? I just can’t do this anymore. It is really stressing me out. Plus, do we all really need to be in touch anymore? It is not like I ever see any of you in person (I will probably never see most of you in person ever again). We may have been friends at one time but do we still really need to be in touch? Isn’t it ok that friendships end? That we all move on and out of each other’s lives? This staying connected through Facebook just doesn’t seem like a healthy thing. I don’t want to do it anymore. I quit.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #8: I know I said I wasn’t going to do this anymore. I am not going to do this anymore. This is my FINAL STATUS UPDATE. I am now going to become what my wife calls a “Lurker.” I just wanted to let those of you know who care, that I will still be checking in on Facebook. I am not ending my relationship with all of you. We can still stay in contact through the Facebook Messenger. I will just not be posting anymore Status Updates. I am not doing that anymore. Done playing that game. Done trying to get your attention. But I will be checking back in to Facebook a few times a week so if any of you want to stay in touch with me just go ahead and message me. Thanks everyone.

The Terrible Reader

The pages are too long. The words spread out. The words slip out. The words move through the brain and back out into the nowhere place from which they came. The brain no longer able to retain the words that live in a book. The brain is slipping away into a kind of digitalized maze. Only tidbits of information and pictures are able to stick. A book filled with words is a marathon, which a person is too out of shape to run. The words are a threat to a person’s limp attention span. No longer capable of the longer sprints and solitudes that a book filled with words requires, The Terrible Reader reaches for her phone.

The Terrible Reader is no longer capable of being alone. He needs to know what is going on on-line. He needs to know what texts have come through. He needs to carry on a conversation that was begun on his phone. He needs to find new emails in his inbox. He needs to check who has checked his frequently checked Instagram and Facebook accounts. There are things to do. Likes to be given and had. Comments to be left. Photos to be seen and loved. The terrible reader has no time for a book. A book keeps him off-line. There is no excitement in these printed words.

The Terrible Reader can no longer sit with herself. It is too uncomfortable. Toes curl and uncurl. Nails are bitten. Fingers are picked. Hair is pulled. It is a continual struggle to keep her attention fixed. She feels restless. Anxious. Just sitting there alone with a book is no longer enough stimulation to keep her attention fixed. She tries to hold on with the book in her hand but it is almost painful. There is an antsiness that won’t go away. And when it does, she feels bored. She feels ready for sleep. The Terrible Reader is in a continual struggle between restlessness and sleep. Her attention span can’t keep up with the attention that words in a book demand. Instead she needs the digitally illuminated screen. She needs the fake light to get off. She needs the high-resolution pictures and live time conversations to feel engaged. When The Terrible Reader is on her phone toes do not curl and uncurl. Nails are not bitten. Fingers are not picked. Hair is not pulled. There is no struggle to keep her attention fixed. There is no battle between restlessness and sleep. Her attention is completely transfixed when on the phone. When on-line, her attention span is dialed in. She is immersed. Like particles of dust sucked into a vacuum machine, she is gone.

The Terrible Reader can read books no more. The Terrible Reader still tries to read books but most of them remain unfinished. Worlds only partially explored. These unfinished worlds pile up like dead leaves in the fall. Discarded and no longer needed, they are left to die under the weight of newer books which will also go unfinished. Unexplored. The Terrible Reader is yet to come to terms with the fact that they have become a terrible reader. They do not want to admit this painful fact to themselves so they continually try and read some more. It hurts too much to make an honest appraisal of what they have become, since humans never like to admit the truth about themselves to themselves. Every time The Terrible Reader sits down with a book their smartphone pulls at them. It won’t leave them in peace. Come to me, come to me, check me, see me, it whispers in The Terrible Reader’s ear. For the fifth time in an hour The Terrible Reader puts the book down and must reach for the smartphone. They no longer have a choice.

The Smartphone Apocalypse

Outside my living room window a woman walks down the sidewalk while typing on her smartphone. Another woman jogs by with her dog in one hand and her smartphone in the other. A group of kids walk past with their backpacks on, all on their smartphones. There is traffic on the two-lane street in front of my house. Cars are backed up from the stoplight. In every single car, I notice someone is on their smartphone. Last night when I was at dinner with my wife, almost everyone in the large restaurant was on their smartphone, dozens of dulled faces lit up by their smartphone screens. Since when did all of this become socially acceptable? How did it happen so fast? Something is happening here and I don’t think it’s as benevolent as all of us seem to naively think.

Spend some time just sitting on a city bench, watching people pass by. Notice how almost every single one of them is glued to their smartphone. Is this a healthy thing? Look around as you drive on the freeway and look at how many people are trying to fit in small hits from their smartphone screen as they drive. We can’t even be alone in-between wherever we are heading from and to without checking our smartphones. Near my home and older couple and their dog was killed the other night by a car while walking. They were killed while crossing the street in a crosswalk. I am certain that the driver who hit them was on a smartphone.

The smartphone apocalypse is here. It has happened. In our collective imaginations, we hoped for the zombie apocalypse and what we got is really not that different. I don’t know much about zombies but I know one when I see one. Have you observed what people look like when on their smartphones? Zombies. The kind of zombies we are turned into by our smartphones are not the kind who want to eat the flesh of other humans. No. Not yet at least. The kind of zombies that smartphones turn us into are the kinds who wander the earth without soul. We become empty, mechanical vessels; not that different from smartphones.

I realize that saying smartphones turn us into empty, mechanical vessels devoid of soul is a grand statement to make, but just because it is grand or cliché does not devalue its inherent truth. Have you spent time with someone who is on their smartphone a lot? How much substance was present in the interaction? Was there any interaction at all? This is often a good way to test for the presence or absence of soul.

Children are soulful because they are present. As a result they are fully alive. The less present we become, the less soulful we are. By present I mean in tune with our lives as life is happening. In tune with our sensory experience as we experience it. In tune with the people around us. In tune with the experiences that we are having as we have them. Being on a smartphone almost always interrupts this process. We become out of tune with the experiences we are having. Out of tune with the environments we are in. It is fine to be out of tune every so often but being out of tune with our lives as we live them all the time, continually interrupted by a digital screen, we often end up zombie like. We lose touch with the soil from which the soul grows and sustains itself- our moment by moment lives (not our smartphones).

Being on or connected to a smartphone all day and night is really no different from watching television. We are really just watching a different version of television as we walk down the street or drive our cars. This kind of television is more interactive and allows us to communicate with people we know and find information we think we need but really don’t. But it is still watching television. Smartphones are the evolution of entertainment. Us humans have found a way to interact with our entertainment and be entertained all the time. We have found a way to induce small zaps of dopamine as we make our way through our lives. In a sense, smartphones are a brilliant form of adaptation to an overly stress-filled and crowded environment. But what happens to a society when everyone is addicted to being entertained all the time? When they cannot drive from point A to point B without a hit of entertainment? Isn’t this when a destructive dictator can rise up and seize control? Isn’t this when terrible things start happening but no one sees what is happening? We are all too distracted to perceive what is happening around us. It is usually only after there is some great catastrophe that humans wake up and think, What the hell happened? Was I apart of that? I didn’t even realize it was happening. We end up with a society of people who are completely ADD afflicted and out of touch (ironically). Totally fragmented and detached from the lives they are living in the present moment. The real consequences of this are beyond or ability to perceive currently, but I have a feeling that the election of Donald Trump as President and the immense amount of prescription psychiatric medications people are taking, is just the beginning. The smartphone apocalypse will make the consequences of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day appear so small in comparison.

I believe that the smartphone apocalypse is a massive catastrophe. It is the largest epidemic that humanity has ever been stricken with and the strange thing is that no one is talking about it. The smartphone apocalypse is completely rearranging the way our brains work and our lives unfold. Yet everyone thinks that these smartphones are the most benevolent and wonderful little things ever to be offered to humans. Suckers. The truth is that our smartphones are gradually becoming a part of us. They are becoming like a third arm or a second heart. Don’t believe me? Try spending two days away from your smartphone and you will experience serious withdrawals. You will feel lost and confused. You will continually feel like you are missing something. Because of this, it is not long until smartphones become implanted devices. And what is even more frightening is that so many people/zombies think this is a good idea.

Isn’t this how the zombification works? Another zombie bites us and their zombie fluid become a part of us. Gradually we turn into a zombie because the zombie virus or fluid is a part of us. Smartphones have made themselves a part of us. We have literally fallen more in love with them then the most important person in our lives. We can’t be without our smartphones even when we sit on the toilet. We need to check on them all the time, mostly for no reason other than to just be entertained. We have become completely possessed by our smartphones and as a result smartphones have become us.

Stuff To Make Sandwiches With

Mayonnaise.

All of our lives are running away from us and all we have to let us know that this is happening is our withered reflections when looking in mirrors. I am someone who is continually aware of how my life is running away from me. Often I will look at pictures of people in the 1950’s and 60’s and think about how their lives have completely run away from them. I am well aware that I am up against the same fate, every moment of every day.

I have a particular practice or daily exercise that I employ for better managing the feelings of dread and futility that arise when a person is aware of their life running away from them. I make sandwiches. I try to make at least two sandwiches a day but on a bad day I will make five. There is no greater satisfaction in my life than eating a sandwich that I have made. The thicker the better. I do not enjoy thin sandwiches. Thin sandwiches are for those who are not courageous. Thin sandwich makers are so afraid of the realities of life that they do everything to calorically restrict themselves so they can feel the illusory impression of being immortal and unaffected by aging. I prefer thick sandwiches because not only do they satiate the more fear prone parts of my brain, but they also allow me to better enjoy a life that I know is running away from me.

I use the healthiest bread that I can buy. This means bread with a high fiber and seed content. Not only is this bread delicious but I do not feel so guilty after eating large amounts of it. I know that I have superseded my daily recommended fiber intake and this helps me feel more confident about the workings of my bowels. I prefer using organic mayonnaise on whatever high fiber bread I use, but since my wife is vegan I normally have to resort to using organic vegan mayonnaise. The good thing about using organic vegan mayonnaise is that I can use larger amounts of it and not feel so doomed to coronary heart disease. I also like to use large amounts of organic spicy mustard, the names of which I can never pronounce. The combination of organic vegan mayonnaise and organic spicy mustard usually and temporarily suspends any kind of existential dread.

My wife and I both try to keep our refrigerator loaded with stuff to make sandwiches with. My wife is younger than I. Not much younger in terms of the span of human history on planet earth but much younger in terms of the deterioration of the human body. Fourteen years can make a massive difference when it comes to the ravages caused by aging. But because my wife also suffers from a certain existential awareness (a fundamental signifier of an intelligent mind) she too is aware of life running away from not only herself but also from her beloved husband and her even more beloved three dogs. In a way I envy her youth. Even if in youth a person is aware of their lives running away from them they still have the underlying comfort of knowing that they still have a good amount of time to lose. Once you are older, the awareness of life running away from you fills you with more despair (or denial) because you know you have much less time to lose.

My wife has picked up the sandwich making practice from me. She also finds it an effective way to deal with the awareness of a run away life. I appreciate that she dedicates just as much interest in keeping our fridge filled with stuff to make sandwiches with as I do. Because my wife is still young enough where she still has the ability to have an incredibly attractive figure (which often provides a person with the fit illusion of being immortal) she does not make her sandwiches as thick as I do. She usually makes her sandwiches with things like organic vegan cheddar cheese, organic sprouts, organic pickles, organic lettuce or organic kale and organic sauerkraut. For some reason she always insists on toasting her seeded wheat bread, which is something I never do. This is another luxury of being young- you feel like you have more time to spend on doing trivial things. I never toast my bread, only because I feel like I just do not have the time. For her she still has a good amount of time to give to such superfluous things. (This is why most good art, literature, film and music is made in youth. A young person has more time to spend passionately dedicated to such things. Once a person is older they just want to spend time with life or living because there is less time and energy to give towards working at things that feel more superfluous the older and sicker a person gets.)

I stuff my sandwiches with a plethora of different organic things. I use various kinds of organic nuts, organic onions, organic vegan cheeses, wild tuna or wild salmon from a can, organic humus, organic pickles, organic sprouts, organic vegan sausages (usually uncooked), organic cabbage, organic kale, organic mung beans, organic sauerkraut, organic habaneros and organic baked barbecue potato chips for extra crunch. I find that stuffing my sandwiches with things that create a crunch effect allows me to discharge a lot of the anger and frustration that I feel with regards to a life that is running away from me and everyone I love. Crunching is a very effective way to deal with this chronic frustration that I feel in my life.

It requires mindfulness and slow movements to keep everything in the sandwich, rather than falling out onto the plate. What I have found is that with the right positioning of everything inside the sandwich and with mindful movements, overboard condiments can be avoided when eating a thick sandwich. Whatever things do fall out on to my plate, I make sure to eat once I am finished eating my sandwich. I look as this as a kind of dessert.

My grandfather, on my father’s side, used to do a similar thing. After the age of forty he was also very aware of life running away from him. He often spoke about how he could not believe how much older everyone was getting. “One minute they were young and filled with life and now they are older and filled with all kinds of unwanted obligations, wear and tear,” he would say when talking about friends, family members, old lovers and celebrities that he liked. Every day for lunch he would eat a large hoagie sandwich. He lived in Philadelphia where there was a hoagie/steak sandwich establishment on every corner. Philadelphians obviously are also very aware of life running away from them and deal with it by making and eating very large sandwiches. Have you seen how big these things are? Some people refer to them as subs, because they are so long. My grandfather would eat one all to himself. Everyday. All alone. A sandwich filled with not organic cheese, meat, hot peppers, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar and oil. He would shake not organic pepper and salt on top and whenever he took me to a hoagie place on one of my yearly visits he would always say, “It is all in the bread kid.” To this day I still believe that to be true but instead of using freshly baked white sourdough bread, I use high fiber wheat or rye seeded bread.

I have found that making sandwiches on a daily basis has been an effective, short-term way for me to deal with the day-to-day knowledge that my life is running away from me. The thicker the sandwich the better. But I also realize that this is a short term solution. I have to keep making sandwiches, sometimes several times a day in order for it to work. Once I am done making and eating my sandwich it is a matter of an hour or so before my sense of life going quickly by returns. I notice when it returns because I feel somewhat depressed. This is usually when I will make another sandwich. If I am away from my home and not able to make a sandwich I will settle for having one made for me. It does not work as well, but it still eases the pain of knowing that it is all quickly passing by.

By the way, now it is Fall. I stay inside as much as I can when it is Fall. Fall is a season that can literally fall on you, so please proceed with caution. Look up, even as you eat sandwiches.

Backwards Man.

Putting my shirt on backwards. Putting my pants on backwards. Waking up upside down. I just can’t seem to get it right. Doing everything backwards. Paying my bills backwards. Exercising backwards. Having sex with my wife backwards, which often ends up with me doing it all wrong. Masturbating backwards causes me to just get my cumm all over myself and I really do not like this. I read backwards and usually never reach the beginning of the book.  I am not sure where all this backwardness has come from but I have my ideas.

Ever since I bought a house in the suburbs and began a career where I am doing work that I really do not like, I have been enduring an incredible amount of stressfulness. All of these unwanted obligations, all of these things that must be done just cause me to overreact. I get easily overwhelmed I suppose. My nervous system and stress tolerance levels seem low. Maybe I am just not made for all the burdens, obligations and worries that come along with middle class life. Years of dealing with a difficult father have worn me down. My adrenal glands have just grown weak.

This is where I presume all this backwardness has come from. It is the short circuiting of my neural systems, the result of too much stress. But shouldn’t I be able to better handle all of it? I can’t afford to be putting my clothes on backwards and going to work. I will lose clients if they see me this way. I can not afford to be driving my car backwards down the street. I could get into an accident and harm others and more importantly I could harm myself! I can not afford to be a psychotherapist and be caught speaking to clients backwards. It makes me appear unfit for the job. Even as I write this now all of my thoughts are happening in a backwards order but I am trying hard to straighten it all out.

Is anyone one else feeling this intense stress that seems to be inherent in trying to survive in our current world? Am I the only one? There is this pressure on my chest that will not lift. Does anyone else feel that? I don’t see anyone else walking or driving backwards so maybe I am alone. I look for other people wearing their shirts or pants backwards but I do not see anyone. I want to find just one other person who suffers from this. Someone who is walking their dog backwards, having sex with their partner backwards, showering backwards, brushing their hair backwards, reading backwards. Someone who is experiencing some sort of backwardness in a world where everyone seems to be following in a straight line. Why can’t I?

I am concerned about this. My wife is concerned. We are not sure what to do. My wife wants me to relax more. To stress less. But how? There is so much to get done! I have drawings to make. Novels to write. Short essays to post on my bog. Sculptures to finish. A house to keep clean. Bills to pay. Plants to water. A wife to get along with. A body to keep in shape. An iPhone to check on. A business to run. Phone calls to return. Dogs to feed and walk. Books to read. Records to listen to. The list goes on and on. How am I supposed to not stress with all these things that constantly need to be done? I meditate. I masturbate. I am thinking about starting to smoke weed again. I am obviously not handling this stress well enough on my own. Everything is happening backwards. I am worried that the planet will shift and start turning backwards. Then what? Then what will happen to us? What will then happen to my wife, my dogs and all the birds I love?

Burning Down The House. Conversation #36.

Keeping this blog is a waste of time.

Why do you feel like this?

Because it is a complete waste of time. It is just another one of the things I have failed to be successful at. It will go nowhere. Blogging like this is a waste of time.

I think that is a bit extreme.

But it is. There will be no recognition for this blog. It serves no purpose really. Only a very few readers will occasionally read it. I really don’t know why I am wasting my time with this. It is too much work for nothing.

Nothing?

Yes nothing.

You don’t think you are acquiring a deeper understanding of yourself through these conversations?

Possibly I am. But what is the point of that?

Herman Hesse wrote in his journal that: If one regards confession of personal convictions, then art must be seen as a long, ever changing, winding path whose object is to express the personality of the ego, of the artist so completely and so exhaustively that by the finish the ego is, as it were, so exposed and exhausted as to be like a burned down house.

So that is what I am doing here? Trying to expose and then burn down my ego so that I can eventually shut it up? Make it speechless?

In a sense yes. It is through this kind of confessional process that you can burn down the ego. It is the ego which causes most people to be so deeply unhappy.

I see.

Do you see? The reason why you are having these conversations with yourself, the reason why you are doing this blog has nothing to do with having readers or creating a blog that becomes widely known. That is not the purpose. In fact, if this blog became more successful it would destroy its purpose. This blog is for you and you alone. It is your psychotherapeutic process.

Why do I need to do this? It takes so much time and is so much work. Life would be so much simpler if I did not have to bother with something like this.

Because you are still tormented inside. You still deeply struggle.

Why?

Because, you have not found your place. You struggle from the tension that exists between wanting to be a free, sexual, authentic and creative man and having to be a responsible, professional, married and working member of normal, bourgeois society. You still are yet to find your place in the universe.

Maybe I never will.

It is possible. This might be a life long struggle for you. But like Herman Hesse you struggle because of your ego (thoughts) that torment you. If you can find a more aware and deeper spiritual part of yourself, which is not run by your damming ego, then you can begin to find the peace you search for.

But maybe I don’t want peace! Maybe peace is for the spiritualist or the religious person but not for the artist. Maybe the artist is doomed to be in a never-ending process of self examination and examination of the society in which she or he lives. Without this the artist would be useless, dull and unoriginal.

It is possible. But that is why you are keeping this blog. This blog is for you to work out these struggles so that they do not cause you as much difficulty in your day to day life. That is the point of any kind of therapy process. You should know this since you are a psyhotherapist.

I suppose you are right. But I am not a psychotherapist. It is what I do to earn an income but it is not who I am.

I see.

But I understand what you are saying.

Good. Because this is not for fame or readers. This blog is not in order to be well known as a writer or to get a book deal. This blog is not a professional endeavor. It is for you to “burn down” your ego.

Yes. I need to keep this in mind. I lose focus of my original intent for starting this blog. Thank you for reminding me. I just get frustrated that in the 20 years that I have been writing and making art I have received such little recognition. It is very discouraging to have spent so much time devoted to being a writer and artist and at the age of 45 to still be as unknown as I was when I was 25. It is also difficult to see so many other writers and artists receiving recognition, while I have to continue on in my day job.

I understand. But this is the way it goes. This is the fate for most writers and artists. It is part of the job. Capitalistic, technology driven society does not value authentic creative expression. Writing and making art is seen as useless endeavor, which is just a waste of time. Capitalistic society is a society based upon labor, generating profit and then consuming. People no longer have time, interest or the cognitive ability to value authentic literature and art. The literary writer and the artist are not really needed by society any longer unless they are contributing to more profitable and popular forms of entertainment.

I know. My art and writing will probably receive no recognition in my lifetime. I need to be ok with this and just continue to write and make art anyways. In order to be able to sustain this creative process in to my older age it has to be something I do because I just enjoy doing it. Because without it I am no one.

Yes. You do it because it is just what you do. It is how you carve a mark or make a dent into the world in which you live. It is an attempt to make sense of things and to leave a record saying that your life was lived in great opposition to the bullshit times in which you are living.

Yes. This is the most important thing. My writing and art is a demonstration against the mind numbing, destructive, mechanistic and soul crushing society in which I live. I want future generations to know I was not like all these people who surround me. That I resisted.

So this blog is one way to continue this demonstration.

Through authentic self-confessions?

Yes. You could call it that. But whatever it is, it is not a waste of time. Don’t fall into that trap. You do this blog for you and you alone. It may be the most important thing you have ever done for yourself.

Maybe so. To hell with being recognized. You are right, that would destroy the point of what I am doing here. Besides, the best art and literature is always the stuff that goes unrecognized by most.

Yes. And those are the obscure books and records that you love finding out about so keep doing what you are doing. You blog is an obscure blog. Take comfort in knowing that. In this society of exploration and opportunism- obscurity is a great accomplishment.

Hmmm.

Keep having this on-going conversation with me.

When will I know that our work here is done?

When you have finally burned down your house.

When my ego becomes quieter?

Speechless.

That may never happen.

Well then, I guess we have a lot of conversations in front of us.