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.

The Frustrated Layabout

My wife tells me that she thinks I have Borderline Personality Disorder. “Just a few hours ago you were saying how much you love just being home, how much you have everything you need here and now you are saying that you do not do enough with your life, that you and I are not getting enough done, that we are lazy and that you are very dissatisfied with everything.”

I tell my wife that I think she has Bipolar Disorder and is addicted to her iPhone. “I don’t know what it is with you. You go from being really energetic and all over the place to being depressed and sluggish. There is no in-between with you and you are continually checking your iPhone! All through the day you cannot stay away from it for more than ten minutes at a time. It is a full-on addiction you have!”

When we are sitting around in our living room we usually end up getting into it like this. But then she will do something nice or I will say something that makes her laugh and then everything will be all right. For a bit. But then I will say stop eating the whole bag of chips or please stop making a mess or get off your phone and then our problems start all over again.

You see, I am miserable in my life. I try not to be and sometimes I succeed. But for the most part I can’t get any goddamn satisfaction (unless I have two or three drinks in me). What is my problem? Why can I not just sit around and be happy at rest? This feeling that there are always things to get done or things that I am avoiding getting done lingers around in me. This feeling like I am not doing enough, that I am letting things go, that I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing follows me around like a bad cold. The strange or dysfunctional thing is that I usually do nothing about it.

You see, who I really am is a frustrated Layabout. A Layabout is a person who does not want to do anything outside of certain things that are subjectively enriching for them (reading, listening to music, napping, eating, going for walks, watching pornography and on and on). A Layabout is often seen as the kind of person who is very lazy. Who does not get much done. Who prefers doing nothing. A frustrated Layabout is stuck in between. They want to be better about being happy in a state of non-doing but there is a part of them that feels like they always need to be accomplishing something. It is a tormented state to be in.

Doing nothing, going nowhere, interacting with no one, letting time drift aimlessly by– this is what being a Layabout is all about. It is about getting nothing done except being present with the moment by moment non-directed flow of your life. A Layabout gets great pleasure from being free of all obligations, all things that must get done. The difference between a Layabout and a procrastinator is that a procrastinator is pissed off and self-hating about all the things they fail to get done whereas a Layabout does not care. A Layabout has completely given up and let go. They do not care about making more money or achieving more of anything really. There is nothing more important than just being free from everything that needs to get done, letting the world go and drifting through each moment of life. In a society obsessed with work, what a liberating experience being a Layabout is when done right!

Doing nothing. Existing in a state of complete idleness. Letting things go. Just watching the afternoon pass by. These are remarkable experiences that are highly underrated in a culture that is obsessed with accomplishment and getting things done. These poor people always running around trying to catch their own tails have no idea how nice it is to just let it all go. To say, fuck it, who cares. This is the fundamental philosophical principal of the Layabout.

Fuck it, who cares that I have not returned those emails or text messages. Fuck it, who cares that I am months late paying my taxes. Fuck it, who cares that I have lost my drivers license and have not bothered to get a new one for months. Fuck it, who cares that I have for years failed to get myself life, health and car insurance. Fuck it, who cares that I have not gone to the dentist or gotten a colonoscopy. Fuck it, who cares that I have not bothered to pay my bills or fill out necessary paperwork for an extension on various loan repayments. Fuck it, who cares that I have not done all the paper work I need to get done for my job. Fuck it, who cares that I have not become more successful in the world. Fuck it, who cares that I have not yet published novels. The list of fuck it, who cares goes on and on.

Strangely enough, this is actually a very enjoyable and enriching way to go through one’s life, if a person can avoid getting upset with themselves about all the things they are saying fuck it, who cares about.

You see a Layabout knows what is most important in life. A Layabout knows that life can end at any moment and all the things that humans preoccupy themselves with ultimately are futile and do not matter in the end. A Layabout does not get caught up in any of it but when they do they turn into a procrastinator or even worse- someone like me with Borderline Personality Disorder. When this does happen the Layabout needs to tell themselves to relax, to return to a present moment state in which they are not worried or unhappy about anything. They need to go take a nap, listen to music or just go sit in their backyard (if they have not lost their house yet) and watch the day go by. Just let it all go man, let it all go.

Who cares about doing things. Doing nothing is the ultimate goal of any real Layabout. Just being free in this moment. This is what matters most. Let the future take care of itself. Fuck it, who cares. Just drift. Society fills us with so many unnecessary things that take up so much space in our temporary lives. Fuck it, who cares.

But I can’t stop feeling like there is all this stuff I must get done. I need a drink and it’s only noon.

“Hey Honey, get off your fucking phone and do something with your life!”

The Agoraphobic Bike Riding Challenge

I am glad that is over. It was horrible. I made it home safe. Just breathe. Just relax. You are safe.

An agoraphobics favorite place to be is home. Anywhere else feels unsafe. But because of this, I have been spending too much time at home. Recently I bought a new bike. I thought it would be a good way for me to get out of the house and exercise in the mornings. Everything had been going well so far, but I had not ventured on my bike more than a few miles from my home. Instead, I have been riding my bike up and down, back and forth, on the same streets close to my house.

Today I have the day off. I have not been riding my bike much the past several days, due to the grief I have been feeling with regards to the lives that were lost in the Oakland warehouse fire. After I finished my morning cup of coffee and reading I gave myself a challenge. I have been hearing about various bike paths close to my home that lead to all kinds of beautiful places. There is one bike path that leads to a small lake, which is in the next town over from my home. About six miles away. I gave myself a challenge, why not ride my bike to the lake? It would be fun. Good exercise and a nice way to try and clear my mind.

I put on my North Face fleece jacket, warm yellow beanie to cover my ears and thinning hair, gloves and headed out into the great outdoors. No problem, I told myself as I got on my bicycle and headed down the street.

It was nice to be back on my bike riding on a pleasant winters day! I rode over all the dried leaves on the street and took pride in the fact that I was on a bike and not stuck in a car like everyone else.

Everything was going fine until I realized that I had exited the town that I lived in and entered a new place. The streets and homes were all foreign to me (an agoraphobic likes to stick to familiar places) and even though I was only in the next town over, I suddenly felt like I was on another planet.

Then the thoughts started to happen. Those goddamn thoughts. Who would know where to find me if something happened? How would I be able to direct someone to my location since I do not know where I am? My chest began to tighten and horrible images of something bad happening to me filled my head. I turned down a quiet suburban street with American flags, Christmas decor and camper vans in front yards hoping that the quiet which fills suburban streets would also quiet my mind. Nope. I was struggling to get air into my tight chest and suddenly all the alarms inside of me were going off. I quickly u-turned my bike and began the very long (two mile) journey back home.

Once I was pointed in the direction of my home and back on the bike path that would take me home, I contemplated getting off my bike and just walking. Go easy. You can always knock on some stranger’s door if you need help. My chest was squeezed and my thoughts were terrifying me. What if something happened at any second? I could barely breathe. I was on the verge of freaking out. Stay strong, I told myself, just keep riding. Cyclists raced past me. I cursed them under my breath as I battled this war inside that kept me moving along at a snail’s pace.  Fuck this bicycle challenge, I kept thinking to myself. If I make it home safe I will never do this again.

Once I saw the sign that read: WELCOME BACK TO YOUR TOWN YOU CHICKEN SHIT AGORAPHOBIC TROUBLED MAN, I felt a slight feeling of relief. But not enough to loosen up my chest and put a hault to the frightening thoughts and shallow breathing. Just got to make it home, just got to make it home, I kept telling myself as I was riding along. And then I saw my house in the distance. I was so happy to see it that I waved at it and yelled, I’m here, I’m here! It was as if I was thinking that my house would come and pick me up. Just keep going, I told myself but my mind threw back the thought, Something terrible could still happen.

Once I gratefully arrived back at my house (about fifty-five minutes after leaving), I noticed that the gardener was there. He was blowing leaves from my front yard and I had never felt so relieved to see him. It was so nice to see him that my chest began to loosen up. I was home. He turned the blower off and said, Good for you, you went on a bike ride! So good for you! I pretended to agree with him, parked my bike in the front of the house and then entered my home like someone rushing to the toilet. Once inside I threw off my beanie, took off my North Face fleece, threw my gloves on the floor and collapsed into my reading chair. I swore out loud that I would never take that challenge ever again.