What Happened When I Quit Coffee? (Everything Fell Apart)

I think most people are too afraid to tell you what I am about to report.

I don’t know why I am back here writing another confessional blog post. These blog posts don’t mean anything. They just fill the stomach of this gluttonous beast called The World Wide Web and make a few people a lot of money while us content generators get nothing but mediocrity and marginalization.

But really, I have nothing better to do. I am frustrated and maybe even a bit depressed and writing has always been how I process these feelings. You should see the stuff I don’t publicly share.

Two months ago, I gave up coffee. After three difficult days in bed with flu like feelings, I was free of the drug. I love coffee. My favorite time of the day was waking early, making a cup of coffee and then reading while listening to records. Coffee brought a feeling of euphoria and interest into my mornings. Most of my life I was miserable in mornings, but once I began drinking coffee, mornings became the time of day I looked forward to most.

Then I had to quit drinking coffee. In summary, here is what happened:

I was working a lot and thinking too much. I started a new business while running a full-time private psychotherapy practice. I am not a business person so all of this felt very unnatural to me. Obviously, I got run down. After three years without being sick, I came down with the flu. The flu turned into a bad case of shingles. After four weeks of having shingles, I thankfully healed without taking any medication. I rested a lot. Doctors where stunned I healed so fast without taking medication but I felt the ravages of shingles on my body. I felt weaker than I have ever felt in my life. Vulnerable. I would ride my bike or walk and feel like I could pass out. My anxiety kicked in. I started having anxiety attacks again. I was almost incapacitated. And as a result, I had to quit drinking coffee.

And because of all of this, my favorite time of day became the most miserable time of day for me. Few things are more difficult than being denied the thing you love most. In fact, all the times in the day became miserable. Life became one long unbreakable spell of monotony and banality with a bunch of never-know-when-they-will-happen-anxiety-attacks sprinkled in. I was happy to be free from the terrible wrath of shingles, but life with anxiety and without coffee was (and still is) difficult to adjust to.

This morning, once again, I woke up in a bad mood. Toward the end of the work week (Thursday), this is how I usually feel in the mornings. I am done with dealing with people. I have had enough of the whole racquet that goes into making a living. I am burned out on playing the game. I’ve had enough and don’t want to play anymore.

As I sat on my couch with a cup of hot water in my hand, this feeling of dread and hopelessness flooded my insides. I thought about the day ahead and dreaded having to go through it all again. Normally coffee would come to my rescue when I found myself in this predicament. Coffee would add a feeling (the high) of euphoria, excitement, energy and interest into the darkened penetralias of my soul. It would give me that push I needed to roll that Sisyphean boulder up the hill yet again. But now without coffee, I just didn’t want to do it. The climb felt too hard. I felt too uninterested and worn out. The hot water in my coffee cup wasn’t cutting it. Everything felt mundane and banal. Life a continual repetition of the same fucking things. Without any coffee to push me through these feelings, I fell into despair.

In that moment everything felt dull, monotonous and uninspired. My marriage. My work. My hobbies. My sex life. My intellectual life. All of it dull and monotonous. I didn’t want to do anything but sit there on the couch and not move. Watering my garden, meditating, reading a book- all of it, dull.

Is there anyone who experiences deep passion and interest in the things that make up their life moment after moment, day after day? Are there people who are almost always passionate and engaged in their lives? Does this really exist in reality or is it an unreal standard that has been created to keep us all trying to achieve it? I have a feeling it is just a myth, but still it bothers me when my life feels so monotonous, banal, passionless and without any genuine interest. Something in me feels like life should not feel like this but maybe this is how life just is. Maybe the American power structure that we all live under is what creates this kind of mundane, banal, monotonous, ordinary, law abiding life we all exist within. We are all continually trying to escape from how shitty it feels and this is the very thing that keeps the gears of power and capitalism churning.

We use booze, coffee, computers, sex, smartphones, TV, food- anything we can get our hands on to help us climb out from the reality of our existence within this system. We are continually trying to change the channel to a better station (I know I am). The coffee and booze (our most popular and most destigmatized drugs) help us to become more interested in things which would normally feel very dull and mundane. These drugs help us to feel passion again, in a life which has become passionless. We need our drugs, our drama and our smartphones to bring some stimulation into our lives or else things feel dull all the time. I mean common, the moment things feel dull or drama free, the most common thing for people to do is reach for their phones.

Familiarity breeds contempt. No matter how wonderful your life is. No matter how great of a job you have. No matter how cool your partner is. If you see it or them in the same way every single day, you will start to hate it or them. Oh, but you should be grateful for the things you have. What bullshit. This sentiment just causes people to feel worse about themselves. I should feel grateful when I am miserable is like asking someone to feel grateful when they are stuck cleaning someone else’s filthy house. Possibly, the reason you are miserable, is because of the routine, the repetition, the lack of real interest, the mundane nature of capital driven life within the system we all live in. Just going through the motions day after day. The struggle to survive. Doesn’t matter how many wonderful things you have around you- if you are around them every day you will feel contempt towards it. This is why we love our phones so much. Every time we pick them up there is something new and different waiting for us. Why do you think social media is so deeply addicting? There is always something new going on.

In a sense, coffee would provide me with a new feeling every morning. It would help interrupt the feelings of banality, monotony, dullness, lack of interest, which are all a result of the system in which I live. Everyone is trying to out run these feelings all the time. What a recipe for disaster. Coffee would provide me with a feeling of happiness, stimulation, engagement and hope. Trust me, we live in a culture where almost every business, idea, building, book, movie, album and on and on was created because of coffee. America is a culture built on coffee. You are probably needing coffee just to read this right now. Without coffee most of this shit would have never been done because things would just feel too isolated and dull.

And this brings me back to where I was this morning. Not wanting to do a fucking thing. Just mired in the misery that has become our dull, collective lives. Not wanting to play the game anymore. Sick of the routine and without coffee to push me forward into enthusiastic willingness. I was expressing all of this to my wife who was sitting the chair next to me (lucky her), drinking her morning cup of coffee. She listened and added a few thoughts of her own. Her perspective was frustrating me. She couldn’t possibly understand as she drank her morning coffee. So, I sat up and asked her if I could have some of her coffee. Enough was enough. I drank half her cup and now here I am anxious, a bit more excited, slightly interested and as a result, writing this.

 

 

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I Am No One

I am no one. Unlike most other humans, I do not identify as any one particular individual who is separate from other things and people. I am one with everything. Your consciousness and my consciousness is the same thing. The only difference between us is these characters that we are all playing inside our heads.

For a long time I was someone and man that was miserable. Throughout my life I have had many different identities or personalities. Ben the professional tennis player. Ben the failed professional tennis player. Ben the architect. Ben the anarchist revolutionary. Ben the artist and writer. Ben the recluse and introvert. Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben……. What a bunch of bushtit that was.

Why bushtit? Because all those identities or personalities I was identified with did not really exist. Where are they now? Where did they go? What does the tree or the bird care about Ben the architect? What about all those personalities that existed two hundred years ago? Where did they go? These identities are just dreams of our imaginations. As my professor at UC Berkeley once pointed out, “Ben all of your opinions and beliefs only exist within your head, they have no separate existence outside your head. That sky up there could care less about what you think.”

I realize that our personalities or identities do have a social function. They make it easier for us to identify one another and to have things sold to us. Many believe that our separate identities (our ego) are the lungs of capitalism. In order for capitalism to breathe, we all need to purchase these identities that feel unique to us. But it is all a bunch of bushtit.

Being no one is quite wonderful. When you are no one there is no one to bother. I realize that few around me understand so I let them think that I am somebody. I want others to do what they want and unlike the actor Jim Carrey, I have little need to push my agenda or experience on anyone else. I am only writing this because, well……I want to.

You see being no one (not identified with being a specific character in my head) gives me a lot of time and freedom. I no longer have to be caught up in the very time consuming struggle of needing to be someone. I am free to just exist, to enjoy the moment, to not need to strive to be anything more than what I am now. No One. When you are no one, there really is nothing to get done. I mean sure I still clean my house, care for my garden, read books, go to work, listen to music, dress well (I enjoy wearing nice suits everyday) but I am not doing these things to be somebody in the future. I am doing them because I enjoy it in the moment. These various tasks that compose a life well lived bring me pleasure. When I was trying to be somebody, I was always trying to get someplace else and as a result was not able to enjoy these smaller aspects of my life. Now the smaller aspects of my life mean everything.

A person is only irritated being where they are at if they want to be someplace else. If a person has no desire to be someplace else there is the absence of irritation. Ever since I became no one, I have only wanted to be right where I am.

You may be wondering how I became no one? It took a lot of time. Ben the tennis player, Ben the architect, Ben the writer and artist, Ben the failure, Ben the anarchist- these identities did not go away easily. I felt like I needed to be somebody in order to live the life I wanted to live. How wrong I was! I didn’t get that it is impossible to live “a good life,” as long as you are trying to get someplace else. The Ego is never satisfied. It always wants more. It is never happy where it is at and it does not want to give up its pursuit of being somebody. It is relentless and caused me a great deal of unhappiness. Over time and lots of hardship, I was finally able to let my Ego go and become no one. It still comes back from time to time, but I notice it and send it on its way.

I have no place I want to be more than right here. Nothing I have to do. Nothing more I need to achieve. Everything feels full right now. I am free to live my life as it is in this moment without looking to the future. Once you become no one, the future is just a dream that you wake up from.

It can be tough at times because society demands that you be someone. People don’t know what to do with no one. It just makes everyone nervous. People need me to be Ben the architect in order to hold on to something. Fine. I let them do that but once you become no one, none of this matters because who are they doing it to? Society and all these people who put you in boxes, judge you, label you, demand things of you, force you to be someone you are not can not get to you once you are no one because there is no one there to get to! So I let people do their thing, because I am no thing.

It really is quite a wonderful space to dwell in, and even though the outside world is going mad because of their egoic identifications and never ending strivings to be someone, it’s ok. It is just that way things are. Doesn’t bother me since I am no one.

Eventually everyone gets the point. The unfortunate thing is that most don’t get to enjoy the point because they are unable to separate themselves from their ego until they are dead.

On Becoming A Gopher

I never imagined this sort of thing possible. How? There is nothing online written about this. None of the great philosophers discuss it. No contemporary theorist makes any mention of it. No one seems to have ever heard of such a thing happening to a person. But it is happening and it is happening to me.

I know it sounds odd to say, but I am becoming a gopher.

The gophers had been destroying my lawn. I hated them and did whatever I could to get rid of them. One day I was running water from my hose down into one of their holes. The water shot out and up into my eyes and face. I tasted something that tasted like fecal matter. I instantaneously become unwell. There was a metallic taste in my mouth and my eyes burned. Ever since that ordinary morning in my backyard, nothing has been the same.

I have grown hair in areas I never before grew hair. Short, stubbly hairs to be exact. On my ears, my cheeks, my arms, the palms of my hands, my forehead, my penis, the soles of my feet, my shoulders, my fingers.

I have had difficulty breathing. My breathing is shallow and fast. There is the continual presence of chest pain. My rib cage feels as if it is being squeezed together. I am in a continual hyperarousal, anxious state. Everything freaks me out and when it does I become immediately mad. I continually play with my penis to calm my nerves.

I never did any of this before. I was a respected psychotherapist for Christ sake!

Rather than being angry at the gopher holes in my lawn, I am now drawn towards them. Something is pulling me towards them and I have this odd desire to squeeze my way down into them. That is where home feels like it is. In those holes. Obviously, I can’t fit.

Instead I have been isolating myself in my writing studio. I have covered the door with books, furniture and anything else that will prevent anyone from coming in. I want to have nothing to do with the human race. Humans terrify me! Once I loved helping humans and now they absolutely terrify me. They are such a threat. I go out at night and collect food from the kitchen while my wife is sleeping, but I then immediately retreat into my safe space and erect a strong wall that not even the police and fire department have been able to break down.

I don’t want to see anyone. I am repulsed by any kind of high pitched sound. I chew on things. I lick myself in areas I was never able to lick before (the one benefit of this entire nightmare). I am terrified and nothing on the internet is helping me to figure this out. Once you cease to be a normal human being, the internet is no longer of any use to you. Accept when I look at pictures of female gophers I am incredibly turned on. I immediately masturbate. This is odd not only because images of female gophers are turning me on but also because before all of this happened, my sex drive was gone.

I don’t know what to do at this point. It is obvious to me that I am becoming a gopher. At this point I have no choice but to just wait things out in here.

Anyone else out there experience anything like this before? Please help

MARIJUANA: Insights From Yesterday’s Use.

I can’t do it often. My life wouldn’t work if I did. I don’t mean this in the way that you might think I mean it. You probably think I mean that I would become lazy, disengaged and less productive if I used marijuana often and this is why my life would not work. Nope. The opposite is actually true. Let me explain.

First of all, this cliché idea that marijuana makes a person lazy or disengaged or uninspired or less productive is true. But these marijuana users are amateurs. Still in their idiot stage of marijuana use. For people who are not amateurs, marijuana is an incredibly powerful and potent drug.

Marijuana opens and expands the mind. If what is already in that mind is superficial and dumb, the person will have a superficial and dumb experience.But if that mind has more depth, intelligence and creativity in it, then the experience can be immensely useful.

You see, marijuana takes a person beyond their normally imposed limitations. It allows a person to really look at themselves from a distance and see things in a “wide open” and clear way. The result is normally more creativity, personal insights and understanding.

Alcohol on the other hand numbs the mind. Alcohol creates zeropersonal insights. Alcohol allows a person to forget themselves. It turns the volume in the brain way down so a person can feel more relaxed and less tormented by fear and general negative thoughts. Alcohol normally turns fear off and the result is a good, carefree time where a person is no longer confined by their more sober limitations. Alcohol does not expand the mind, it dulls it. This is why many people use alcohol to treat their worried, unhappy, judgemental and stressed out minds.

I deal with a good amount of anxiety and depression, which I normally treat with mindfulness meditation (and a few beers or glasses of wine). Using marijuana yesterday gave me a better understanding of why I get depressed and anxious and why I need to use mindfulness more, to treat it.

You see we all live within a particular kind of social construct. Like fish in a fish tank we live in a particular socially conditioned system. In America, this system tends to be economic (and religious) based. In America right now, economics (or Capitalism) is the main religion. This creates a particular construct (identity) that we all exist within. But this identity (who we think we are) is mostly conditioned in to us. It is not really our own making. Everyone experiences this American identity in very similar ways (worry about money, worry about the future, worry about all the things that need to get done, preoccupation about what we are going to buy or where we are going to dinner or on vacation and on and on). It is this socially conditioned identity that is the cause of so much of what makes us unhappy.

Why? Well, it may not be so easy to explain and you can read Freud, Nietzsche, E.M. Cioran, Shunryu Suzuki, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Benjamin Fondane, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and others for more insights. But let me try.

This identity, our shared economic-based-identities, is created by the social construct that we live within. It is informed by consumerism, capitalism, media and many other things. Literally, a big part of our identity was shaped and designed to some degree by people sitting in an advertising office someplace. And we identify so strongly with our identities (our egos) that it ends up causing us much emotional and psychological pain.

The reason for most of the depression, anxiety and general unhappiness that we experience is that this is what the limitations and economic based social construct that we live within creates in us. Unhappiness, unfulfillment, depression and anxiety are what happens when we live within social conditioning and the American social construct. It is the nature of the system we live in. There is no way to feel happy or fulfilled when living in this American social construct (no matter how many Tony Robbins conferences you go to) because the nature of the system creates unhappiness. It needs to in order to sustain itself. To keep us doing, working, buying, pursuing.

It is like if a fish wanted to be healthy, longed for health and well-being but lived in a dirty fish tank. The fish would never be able to find genuine health and well-being not matter how hard they tried. They would continually be pursuing it but never find it because it is not to be found in the dirty fish tank. The fish must find a way to get to a cleaner tank (good luck).

The only way to really experience authentic happiness, fulfillment, well-being and creativity is by getting out of the American social construct. By transcending or going beyond the identity limitations imposed upon us by social conditioning. This can only happen if we are able to go beyond our identities and reach a place where we are outside of identity. This outside is more of a present moment, fully aware and creative space. It is a non-ego space where the person is completely free and beyond ordinary daily concerns (like: the to do list, needing to call clients back, work issues, preoccupations with what other people are doing wrong, various economic preoccupations, future plans preoccupations and on and on). All of these things are a result of the socially conditioned identity we share in common. It is a result of the social construct that we live in and true fulfillment, creativity and happiness can never be found in there.

I presume that the insights I had while using marijuana yesterday are similar to the teachings of Buddhism. Buddhism is based in the practice of being fully present, fully aware and not as attached to our individual egos. The Second Noble Truth in Buddhsim states that attachment is the cause of suffering. We can never be authentically fulfilled and happy if we are attached to anything that comes from our identity. Depression, anxiety, anger, unhappiness are all a result of identifying to strongly with the socially conditioned identity (ego). Don’t take my word or Buddhism’s word for it, just look at what is causing you to suffer and see for yourself.

The reason why my life would not work if I actually used marijuana legally and regularly is because I would not be able to buy into the social conditioning that every one else around me is buying into. I would see the normal things that I need to be concerned with and take care of in order to maintain a life in society, as barriers to my fulfillment, creativity and happiness. As a result, I would try not to engage with these things. My business would decline, I could lose my home and end up struggling a lot more economically. In order to sustain a comfortable and legitimate life within the American social construct a person needs to be very careful about expanding their minds too much. It could make life in the fish tank much harder for them. This is why most of us keep drinking booze. Keeps our minds closed down and a bit less stressed out.

Alcohol is the drug of choice in the American social construct (you probably drank just last night). Alcohol allows a person to cope with (rather than eradictate) the anxieties, stresses, discontent and worry that are a normal condition of the American social construct.

The limitations to a person’s personal freedom and well-being that are imposed on all of us in this American social construct creates a sense or feeling of unease. Alcohol helps take this feeling temporarily away and enables us to continue on in our confinement. Marijuana makes it very hard for a person to just carry on in their confinement. Marijuana makes a person want to break out and run free.

Can’t do that again for a while. But my depression and anxiety have mainly been the result of not feeling like I can fully be myself while living in this American social construct. I am a rather strange person who thinks and acts in unusual and highly creative ways. I need to keep this under control and act in more professional ways if I want to “fit in.” The result of squashing or not engaging my creativity is always depression and anxiety. I really struggle to stay inspired and creative because depression tends to take all of that energy away. Living within social conditioning and social limitations makes it very hard for a person to stay authentically creative, especially as they grow older. I was very happy that while using marijuana I made two paintings and wrote a few short stories. I have not been able to paint in over a year.

Through mindfulness meditation I am trying to do what marijuana brought about in me. To live more fully in the present moment, to not be as identified with my ego or identity. To shed all of my social fears and worries and preoccupations. To just be free and present with my life from moment to moment. When I am able to do this I do notice that I become happier and more creative. But it is tough because normal life within the social construct causes me to get so caught up in my identity that my identity literally starts to strangle me.

Using marijuana yesterday gave me more insight into what it is I am actually doing and need to keep doing when practicing mindfulness meditation. I am very grateful for this.

I have now seen what happens when I get too caught up in my socialized, fear based identity. We I am too steeped in my conditioned ego I lose touch with the health, creativity, fulfillment and well-being, which can only be found when my mind is open, aware and living more fully in a present moment based reality. So much creativity and fulfillment can be found here.

I bet advertisers and corporations and goverments and other economically interested agencies will not like this.

AUTOPORTRAIT

Inspired by Edouard Leve.

I always put off for tomorrow what I could take care of today. I love coffee in the mornings. I make drip coffee in the mornings but always feel like it takes too long, even though it doesn’t take more than five minutes. I have a difficult time liking other human beings. If someone dresses in a way that I find cool and stylish, I immediately like them. I am often uncomfortable with my style. I want to be more fashionable than I am. I do not practice meditation enough. My toenails must get very long before I do anything about it. This is the final piece of writing I will post on-line. I have been telling myself for years to stop posting my writings on-line. I worry that I am losing energy with age. They are my dogs, but I still resent having to clean up their poop. I quit painting because it requires too much effort and financial investment. I also quit painting because I got tired of the mess. I enjoy the sound of small airplanes flying overhead. This sound reminds me of my father. I do not speak much with my father because I am afraid of what would happen to my mental and physical health if I did. I would like to have a lot more sex than I do. Children make me feel uneasy, but I like them more than I like adults. The sound of a train in the distance reminds me of being in college. People see me as a white guy but I do not see myself as a white guy. I spend a lot of time in the sun, so I can darken my skin and not be seen as white. I could do without art, architecture, movies, theatre, dance, poetry but I could not live without music and literature. America is not something I identify with. I am American. My parents love me but I have had a very difficult time loving them back because I feel like they failed at their job in many ways. I enjoy sitting in the blazing hot sun, with no suntan lotion on, for hours at a time and am not worried about getting skin cancer. I am worried about other physical ailments. Very uncomfortable anxiety is a regular experience for me. Anxiety for me is the immediate fear of disappearing into nothingness without feeling ready to. Riding my bicycle for pleasure, on a sunny and warm day, makes me happier than anything else I do in my life. Sometimes I like to shout out at strangers, when riding my bicycle for pleasure, because I am so happy. I am afraid of dying but I am not afraid of falling asleep. I am more afraid of dying when I am outside of my home than when I am inside of my home. I crave a glass of white wine, two pints of beer, sexual experiences, new music, orgasm, new books, solitude, knowledge, being alive, reading, coffee, doing nothing, observing people from a distance without talking to them, new shoes and clothes, Spain, a good time, being around like minded people, a nice and dark bar, a clean house. I don’t crave status, money, food, going on vacation, watching television, human company, cooking, busyness, work, spending time with more than one person, parties, airplane travel, road trips, hiking, competition, eating at nice restaurants. I have a moderate amount of confidence but not enough to not follow the rules. I do not always enjoy marijuana because sometimes it makes me feel very anxious. I avoid social interaction when possible. Women who feel the same way about sex as I do, meaning sex should be fun and kinky and there should be no emotions bound to it, are my kind of women. I once ran out in to the middle of a busy road and saved a man’s life who had been in a terrible motorcycle accident. People who do not use decent grammar and punctuation in their texts, are not people I want to socialize with. People who do not respond to texts are not people I appreciate. When I am alone I often do nothing. When I am around other people I try and make it look like I did something when I was alone. Watching YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, the news and other television shows I feel is a complete waste of my time and I only do it because I want to vegitate. I really believe that technology is causing people to become much dumber, robotic and more systematically controlled. I am concerned that I have a tumor in one of my testicles but am too afraid to check it out. Technology is something I use regularly and I worry that this could be happening to me. Life frightens me. Underwear often squeezes my testicles too tight and I worry that this is not good for me. I change my hairstyle and facial hair style more often than I would like. Literature is my religion but I have been having a difficult time finishing longer books. The fact that I struggle to finish longer books deeply concerns me. For the past 35 years I have been a full-time, practicing hypochondriac. I wish I would write more. If I don’t finish writing a novel before I die I will not feel like I accomplished what I wanted in this life. Being a recluse appeals to me but I don’t think I could ever really do it. I am dependent on my wife even though I like it when she does her own thing. A messy house upsets me. Horror films terrify me. Nice clothes make me feel happier. Good music is my medicine. I often wonder why all the sirens, all the time? Reading is my favorite activity. Sex is my favorite kind of theatre. Watching the sun set is when I feel the most calm. Working for money is not something I have ever enjoyed. Working as a psychotherapist is a very triggering job for me. Working as a psychotherapist wears me out. I am very introverted. I never work in bed. The moment I open my eyes in the morning I get out of bed. Then I will make coffee and sit down and read for an hour before I do anything else. Thursday night is my favorite night to go out. Sometimes I think about suicide but would never actually do it because I am too afraid. I don’t believe in The American Dream. I think the American Dream is a potential nightmare for most people. In my lifetime I have only had one pleasant interaction with a police officer. I have had over fifty unpleasant interactions. And I am a white guy. Watching leaves sway back and forth in a slight afternoon breeze, relaxes me. My political view is that politics are absurd. I grew up very wealthy but do not care about wealth. I love dogs but I hate the mess they make. Poetry bores me. Naked women excite me. I move my desk around a lot, hoping that if I find the right location for my desk I will sit there more and finish writing a novel. I have been doing this for almost twenty years now and have not yet finished writing a novel. I don’t trust or admire men in business suits. I wish I was working (earning money) as an artist and writer. Mindfulness meditation has helped me more than any other psychiatric, medical or psychological intervention has. I wish that many of my favorite writers, who killed themselves, knew about mindfulness. I like wearing my shirts buttoned up all the way to the top. Not wearing underwear feels uncomfortable for me. I do not enjoy being watched. I am often a lot shyer than I would like to be. I never talk out loud to myself but do not judge people who do. I feel empathy for birds, flowers and trees. When interacting with other people I almost always feel socially ackwards. I have never punched another human. People tell me that I am very tall but I am not aware of this in my day to day life unless somone points it out. I don’t like when people ask me how tall I am. In my mind, men who chose to wear no socks when wearing pants are making a terrible fashion choice. Men who expect other people to clean up after them, I despise. I worry that I sometimes expect my wife to clean up after me and get upset when she doesn’t. I wish I was better at being sexual with my wife or a girlfriend than I am with a complete stranger. When I have to do things that I do not want to do, I have a tendency to get depressed. Going through tunnels or across bridges makes me incredibly anxious. I avoid driving through long stretches of wide open space. I have not been on an airplane in over ten years. My favorite places to go are bars, bookstores and record stores. I don’t get massages. I appreciate money well spent. I am completely disinterested in business men and have no desire to be one myself. Being a mindfulness meditation instructor is challenging for me, I do not particularly enjoy it, but I am grateful that I am able to help others with what I have learned to do to help myself. I am very aware that life can end at any moment; this is why I prefer living in the moment. I do not believe in the future but I hope this is not why I have been procrastinating on several important things I have not been taking care of. Four months ago I lost my driver’s license and have not taken any steps to get another one. I have a tendency to put off doing things that I really do not want to do and will read or go for bicycle rides instead. There are six unfinished novels on my computer. When I am home alone I feel most at rest. Now that I am 45 I do worry that my penis will stop working soon. Aesthetics are important to me because I believe that aesthetically pleasing objects are good ideas in material form. I like to surround myself with good ideas. I judge and distance myself from people who surround themselves with bad ideas. I prefer going places where other attractive women will be. My childhood was ok but I do not have many good memories from childhood. My father yelled a lot when I was young. I would never wear a pink shirt. I consider the writer Edouard Leve a friend even though I have never met him in person. I like people who wear all black and don’t follow the rules. I don’t smoke but enjoy being around smokers. As far as I am concerned the vast majority of Americans are really, really uncivilized and entitled. I enjoy spending time with my small dog more than anyone else. Everytime I hear a siren I am reminded of the fragility of life and feel fortunate that this time, it is not coming for me. I really wish I could have been successful as a writer and artist but do not think that was ever really in the deck of cards for me. I think there are way too many artists and writers out there. I do wish most of them would stop. Especially the ones who do it in order to make money. If I find out that an artist or writer graduated from an MFA program, I immediately lose interest in their work. The two things that I do and really care about, making art and writing, I have taught myself how to do. I have also taught myself how to procrastinate and am really good at that. At 45 years of age, I feel very lucky to have a full head of hair and a body that feels pretty healthy. I think this is because I played a lot of sports when young. I don’t drink soda. I don’t consume fast food. I miss Leonard Cohen very much but did not know him. My hair is thinning and slowly falling out and I am worried about this. I sleep very well. Sometimes when I am in a room with other people I can see all of their hearts beating, blood moving through their veins and organs working. This makes it difficult for me to take most human preoccupations seriously. One thing I do every day is dishes. I avoid doing things that require that I bend over. I believe that I have the ability to be a really good writer and artist but have a hard time going beyond that. When I am depressed I will wear the same outfit for days on end and my wife never seems to notice. I miss living in the San Francisco Bay Area very much. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have always had a difficult time spelling San Francisco. I do not have any friends that I spend time with regularly. Sometimes I wonder if I even have any friends that are not covered in fur. I know that my sister is seriously mentally ill but no one wants to talk about it because my sister is a psychologist. I love my parents and wish for them nothing but the best in life but am much healthier and happier when there is a lot of space between us. It is unfortunate that things are this way. I should stretch more than I do. If I drink coffee in the afternoons I feel anxious. Groups of people do not excite me. I avoid talking on the phone. I envy Thom Yorke and Nick Cave. Professional matters do not interest me. I am not afraid of losing status, high credit scores, professional credibility or possessions but I am afraid of losing my hair. Since I know it is inevitable, at any moment, I don’t fear losing people I love because I know I will be ok. I do, however, fear losing myself or my wife in a tragic accident or from physical causes because I worry that neither of us would ever recover from this. When no one else is around, I will sometimes hug trees. When on walks at night I look in other people’s windows.

The Reluctant Psychotherapist

“……i was free from the horror of being deformed by another person’s needs and desires.” -J.D. Daniels, The Correspondence

My testicles are in pain. It feels like someone is squeezing them with their fingers to the point where it hurts. I have had my testicles squeezed many times before, but it was purely for fun and usually with someone’s mouth. This is different. There is now the presence of this swollen ache, which feels like it could be signaling illness.

Currently, as I write this, I am soaking my testicles in a cup filled with warm water and sea salt. The cup is seated on a small table just beneath my dick and desk chair. I am not wearing any pants (or underwear) and it feels surprisingly comfortable to be writing with my testicles soaking in warm sea water.

I have taken the entire week off. I canceled all my thirty-six clients (I hate this word, the ugliest and most mediocre word in the English language) and decided to retreat from the world of work. After seven years of spending seven or eight hours a day, four days a week, sitting in a fake leather chair, with my underwear and pants squeezing my balls, I suppose the testicle issue I am now having was inevitable. I have felt my testicles aching for years. I had to take this week off and let my oppressed testicles hang lose.

Being a psychotherapist is a dangerous job. I suppose testicular issues are just one hazard of this profession. We all know that sitting for long periods of time is not healthy (it is better for us to smoke) but we all do it anyways. Psychotherapists just do it for longer periods of time and must tunefully listen to negative talk while doing it.

I don’t care how much you know; one thing I know for certain is that human beings did not evolve to sit in a chair for hours a day (with their sexual organs being squeezed to death by their expensive pants and underwear) while listening to other people talk about themselves for an hour at a time. Being a psychotherapist is as unnatural as drinking diet coke.

I mean all you need to do is look to the guy who invented this profession, Sigmund Freud, and see how fucked up he was. It is never a good idea to go into a profession (or take someone’s advice) which was invented by a neurotic, unhealthy, introverted, hypochondriac, drug addicted, perverted, narcissistic but highly intelligent madman. This gives new meaning to that cliché idea- you are who your friends are. You are who the founders of your profession are (or were). Know what I mean?

I almost think it would be better to work as a prostitute. Prostitutes are free from the obligation to apprehend and interpret. They understand what their clients want from them. It is all usually very upfront. I am sure that if someone did a study they would find that professions which create the most happiness and health in its practitioners are the ones where everything is upfront. No bullshit. The practitioners of the profession know exactly what is wanted from them and this makes life easier for everyone.

Psychotherapists have no fucking idea. The profession requires that we spend our days apprehending and interpreting what other people are doing and needing (we usually end up doing this in our personal lives as well because our profession tends to erase the line between personal and professional life). Normally, psychotherapists have no idea what their clients want from them because their clients don’t know what they want for themselves. This is usually the therapist’s job. To help clients make decisions for themselves. To spend so much time apprehending and interpreting that hopefully, eventually, the client will know what they want and what they should do. What hell it is.

But this is not the worst part of being a psychotherapist. If what I have talked about above was all I had to deal with, the swollen testicles, the sitting and all the interpreting and apprehending, then maybe I would not be a reluctant psychotherapist. I realize that life is suffering. We all need to choose our poison. I can handle a swollen testicle, sitting all the time and people who pay me to apprehend and interpret for them. But if happiness means being able to choose the problems that you have and then being able to enjoy the process of solving these problems, I may be in trouble.

As a psychotherapist, I have to spend more than half of my life/time with other people’s problems. I am paid to solve their problems. If the problems are interesting and engaging the time goes by quick. Just when I realize my testicles are aching the session is almost over. Problems such as dying, being addicted to public masturbation, nymphomania, wanting to kill your parents, addiction to heroin, continual alien abductions, wanting to go on a shooting rampages and stalking issues keep me engaged. But the problem is that I do not often come across these sort of problems. Most people’s problems tend to be as conventional as an afternoon soap opera. Mediocrity has turned most of us into victimized door mats. And victimized door mats have the same old stuff in them whenever you shake them out.

And then there is: having to talk with parents, schedule sessions with clients, respond to client emails, call back physicians and social workers who want to consult about a client we both share, respond to client texts on weekends and at night, write notes about clients, deal with clients who don’t show up, pay money to private insurance companies in case clients try to sue me, submit payments and paperwork and take professional development classes mandated by the licensing boards and government agencies so that they can make money off of what we do (I don’t mind licensing regulations since most people attracted to this profession are nuts and should be regulated- I just think things pertaining to licensing should be free).

I could go on and on but I won’t. You get the idea here. I am often asking myself: “Are these problems that I want to have in my life and are they problems that I enjoy solving?” Right away the answer is always “Hell no.” Darn it.

But I keep working as a psychotherapist anyways. I am doing some good in the world even though doing good involves me suffering from swollen testicles, a body that is growing weaker because of all the sitting and the inner deformation of my spirit that is the result having to solve problems that I do not want to be having. But a man like me needs to get paid. I need to afford my quality of life, so I keep doing what I do. I try and take things day by day and not care too much about what may happen tomorrow.

Make sure that what you are good at doing (which in America means what people are willing to pay you to do) is something that you enjoy doing. If you don’t not like doing the thing you are good at- you are fucked.

I dream about living other kinds of lives, lives unfilled with other people’s problems, lives filled with problems I want to have (because I know this is what happiness is). But my ability to dream seems to be declining with age. I don’t have the energy to move very far anymore. My testicles are now sitting in a cup. How far could I go?

A good day for me used to be one filled with creative productivity, aimless wandering, beer, books and women. This was before the house, the cars, the boat, the wife, the dogs, the status, the suburbs, the television addiction, the smartphone addiction, the bills and the paranoia that I can have my entire career destroyed by writing honest things like this. Now my idea of a good day is a day free of all obligation. A day withdrawn from the outside world. A day in complete solitude where I can become a sibling to myself, and like J.D. Daniels writes, “gnaw at myself for nourishment in the red cavern of the womb, relaxing into my own death.”

Then, eventually, I have to return to having my testicles squeezed.

The Nonconformist Writer

“Very few people read my stuff,” I said.

“But you are a great writer, things will eventually happen for you,” she said.

“I don’t think so. I post things that I write online and still after a decade and a half of regularly doing so, get two, maybe three likes. No one seems to care about what I write. No publishers knocking at my door. There are so many people out there who get thousands of likes on the things they post.”

“Did you think it would be different for you? Did you think that the kind of things you write about would get lots of likes?” she asked.

“I don’t see why not. I do not see why my writing would not attract more attention.”

“You are not writing about things that get widespread attention. You are choosing to write about things that the vast majority of people do not want to think about and are not smart enough to comprehend. You are not giving people what they want. You are not a conformist writer. Those writers who get lots of attention are mostly complete sell outs. They are crap. That is not what you are doing,” she said before walking into the bathroom and shutting the door.

 

Why can’t I remember to take off my shoes when I walk in the house? I said I would. Why do my testicles hurt so much? When I talk with carrots they always provide me with wisdom. I’ve been thinking a lot about female breasts. I wish I could have a sexual experience with an attractive and slutty young woman, an experience that brings me back that feeling of youthful, sexual excitement. Why wont my dog learn how to pick up her own crap? What is going wrong in my brain? It is true. I guess the vast majority of people do not want to read about these things.

Conformist writers are everywhere. The internet has exponentially exploded the epidemic of the conformist writer. The internet and bookstores are infected by the human waste conformist writers create. Conformist writers ultimately do no good in the world even though they tell everyone else how to. They perpetuate the mechanisms of capitalism. They help pacify and normalize individuals and turn them in to well-lubricated workers and consumers. Conformist writers instruct other people how to live happy, economically successful and spiritually fulfilling lives even though they themselves do not. They write simple and uninteresting (not challenging) dramas that reflect the vegetative needs of the majority. Conformist writers help keep mediocre people mediocre through the spread of mediocre ideas.

Ultimately, conformist writers are interested in one thing: wide spread popularity. They want to be known and this is why they write about things that the vast majority can relate to. They want to be adored. They want to be accepted by the vast majority. They want to be seen as smart and great. They want to achieve the same thing I would like to achieve, success as a writer, except they sell out and take the short cut there. They want status and cultural legitimacy (just like I do). The conformist writer has completely and absolutely sold out without even really knowing what they are doing because they are too dumb. “Show me the money and the likes!” is what the conformist writer is saying. They use the craft of writing (often very poorly and unartfully) to peddle their goods. To sell the vast majority mediocre and popular ideas about how to live, profit and live unintellectually stimulated, complacent lives.

The conformist writer takes no risks. They don’t know how to take risks. The conformist writer is frozen by fear, full-of-shit and this is why most of what they write is incredibly dull and will be forgotten as the years drag on. The nonconformist writer is always taking risks. They are always putting their status, economic situation, security and cultural legitimacy at risk. The nonconformist writer lives on the edge, because this is the only way to expose the absurdities and truths about the human condition in which they live. Conformist writers perpetuate the status quo while nonconformist writers break it down and are often seen as freaks, losers, failures, threats and aberrant outsiders because of it. But if it were not for nonconformist writers (and those others who tell the truth about what it means to be or not be a free-thinking human being) there would be a lot more suicide, alienation, despair, oppression, bad ideas, dull art and violence than there already is. Nonconformist writers articulate deeper, often taboo feelings that everyone feels but very few talk about. I have deep gratitude for nonconformist writers. They provide me the creative consolation, philosophical insights and friendship that I desperately need in these conformist, mediocre, legislative, religious, economically obsessed, Hollywood fabricated and bureaucratic times in which I live.

So, I will not have many readers. I probably will not find any literary fame. Not many people will read or like what I write. I will continue to work hard at my writing and pound on this keyboard every day; risking my professional, social and economic life for very little in return. My writing will be known to only a few but the nonconformist writer is always writing to the few. I will be writing in a void. Alone and stuck inside my own head just like every other isolated messiah. Ok. Such is the fate of the nonconformist writer. In the end, I will know that I told the truth about myself and the surrounding world in an unusual way. This is the job of the nonconformist writer anyways.

 

“You almost done in the bathroom?!” “I really need to use it!”

“Wait a minute dammit! I am using it now!” she replied angrily from behind the locked bathroom door.

I squeeze and wait.