The Suburban Captive, Part One

The main task, effort, lesson, understanding or goal (whatever you want to call it) for the suburban captive is to learn how to be completely content and happy within their captivity. No easy undertaking and often one must go through years of hating and denying their captivity in order to get to a place where they are able to embrace and make friends with it.

These years of denying and hating captivity and the experiences that a person has when in this stage or state (depression, emptiness, self-destruction, addiction and excessive boredom) can be the subject matter for volumes upon volumes of books. Outside of a few novels and essays, this subject matter has yet to be undertaken or covered by writers.

Everyone who lives in the suburbs experiences suburban captivity. There is just no way around it when living in the suburbs. Avoiding captivity when living in the suburbs is like avoiding getting wet when swimming in the ocean. Cannot happen.

Captivity is occurring when there is no place for a person to go where they can feel permanently freed. A person in suburban captivity can’t go anywhere and be authentically free. They are held captive in and by their homes. Even though a home and garden can be incredibly beautiful, comfortable and filled with all kinds of delights- a person is still captive there because they really have no place to go.

The vast majority of people who live in the suburbs are continually trying to escape from their captivity. Their lives are a continual effort to escape. They travel, they go out to restaurants, they go to movies, they go hiking, they go to work, they go to friend’s homes, they go to bars, they go to parties, they watch television, they are obsessed with the cell phones- always trying to escape captivity. But this way of life is very draining and often they embrace their captivity when they have no energy left.

The suburban captive who has fully embraced his captivity is full of energy but does not use this energy to go anywhere. Instead, he uses the energy to successfully live a life while embracing suburban captivity.

Those who are preoccupied with trying to escape their captivity, deep down know that there is no place to go. Even though they often think about all the things they have to do and all the places they want to go- they often know that this doing and going and consuming never really delivers them the escape they are searching for. The reason for this is because this constant doing, going and consuming is what causes much of the captivity in the first place. One is wrong in thinking that escape equals freedom. What kind of prisoner escapes and experiences more freedom as a result? Very few.

Most suburban captives search for escape their entire lives. Some finally realize that there is actually no place to go, no place to escape to. They then stop needing to leave their homes (unless necessary) and begin learning how to enjoy captivity. How to really settle in. This is not a surrender but instead it is an embrace. It is a way of life that can bring a person great fulfillment when done correctly.

The suburban captive is held captive by their homes, their expenses, their banks, their garden, their television, their dogs, their furniture, their books, their records, their appliances, their electricity, their water- all the things which make up a suburban life. These things erect an invisible wall around a person which shelters them from the chaos of the outside world. But in order to maintain this shelter a person must work, and the unpleasantness of this work for money often causes the suburban captive to long for escape.

More escape just builds bigger walls that a person will never be able to climb over or break through.

The true suburban captive has stopped needing to go out. They go to work and go out for a few things (occasional meals, trips to the market and social situations) but they no longer need to go out into the world. They once went out into the world to do things, to buy things, to have experiences- but they eventually realized that this does not work. They reach a point where they realize they are living in captivity and that there is no escape from it. Like any skilled captive in any situation, at this point the suburban captive embraces their captivity. They learn to build a fulfilling life within the walls (which is actually how to get rid of the walls) that can never be seen from the outside. Suburban walls exist within.

Once the suburban captive has reached the stage of embracing their captivity, realizing that escape cannot be found in buying things, going out, spending money, promiscuous sex, alcohol, socializing and even working- this is the stage when the suburban captive begins to deepen their relationship within themselves. The successful suburban captive is at home within. A fully realized person. Self-actualized. Nothing any longer stresses him out. He is completely fulfilled and at peace within himself, therefore nothing outside himself can cause much distress. Most suburban captives are continually getting stressed out because they are avoiding settling in to themselves. They are still look for escape on the outside.

The suburban captive who has embraced their captivity knows that they exist in captivity. They have accepted their captivity even though no one can see the walls. From the outside everything looks affluent, privileged, free, calm and beautiful so no one imagines that captivity could occur. How could you be held captive when living within such beauty? But it is exactly the act of owning and sustaining these things which creates the suburban captive. The only way that the suburban captive can truly be free and happy within this kind of affluent captivity (the worst kind of captivity is the kind of captivity which everyone is experiencing, but no one talks about because they think their captivity is their freedom) is to acknowledge and embrace the captivity which they have taken suburban residence in.

Once a suburban captive has done this, once they have had enough of the pain involved in trying to escape, they can get down to the real business of cultivating a truly fulfilling life from within, at home.

I Choose Depression

When I told my mother that I am dealing with depression she said, “Well son, depression is a choice.” Then she quickly escaped any further conversation about it by making up a story that she was in a meeting and had to go. What meeting? My mom has not worked in over twenty years.

Even though I felt deeply wounded by her quick dismissal of my pain, I thought about what she said. “Depression is a choice.” Am I choosing to be depressed?

A fellow psychotherapist whom I sometimes have lunch with deals with serious depression. But he is one of the happier people I know. He often says, “I choose joy. I choose to be joyful because I have to.” Really? You have to? I find it odd that someone who is very depressed could appear so happy. Something seems very forced and inauthentic about it to me, but who am I to judge? Don’t most people do this?

Deep down, depression is a choice. It is true that I have little interest in happiness. I find positivity and happiness to be incredibly banal and superficial states to be in. If I am happy, great- I will enjoy it. But it is the pursuit of happiness and positivity that I think is responsible for so much misery.

As a psychotherapist, the one thing I hear all the time is, “I just want to be happy.” This I feel is the root of most people’s unhappiness (and empty bank accounts).

I choose not to be happy. If happiness shows up, as it sometimes does, I don’t turn it away. I enjoy it. But I choose to not strive to be happy and positive. I don’t think I should be happy. In fact, I think the desire to be happy is just as dangerous as driving a motorcycle at high speeds.

Depression is a logical emotional reflection of the world we are living in today. Just like a pool of water reflects the sky and trees that hang over it, depression is a reflection of the world the soul is living in today. The soul is lonely and in a state of terror and despair. The soul is sad about all the sensless violence all around. The soul feels under threat from the absence of creativity and authentic community in our working and private lives. The soul feels stuck by political and economic conditions outside our control. The soul feels empty because the more it tries to find fulfillment in external things, the more alone and empty it feels. The soul is quite frustrated in the Capitalistic world of today.

And then there is the simple fact of our own mortality. The fact that everything we love, everything we hold close to ourselves, everything we have earned, even ourselves, will disappear. When a person really looks closely at the image being reflecting by the pool of water- depression is what they will see.

Most chose not to look at all. Just keep looking away. Say you have a metting to get to.

My mom is right though. I do chose depression because depression is what I see reflected back at me, especially in my work as a psychotherapist. I mean how could I hear about the worst things that happen to people in life, day after day, without feeling depressed? How could I be a psychotherapist and be happy? Happy Psychotherapist is just another term for Sociopath Psychotherapist, Psycho Psychotherapist or plain old Shitty Psychotherapist. If a therapist is able to be happy while hearing about the worst things that happen to people, stop seeing them. They do not care about you, even though they may act like they do.

The best psychotherapist I ever knew, who was given all kinds of awards and wrote several books and was a prestigous mentor to many including myself, jumped off a bridge.

If I am going to provide guidance to those going through the various difficult aspects of life, I want to be one of them. I want to get real with myself and stop pursuing fake dreams of Hollywood induced happiness. How else can I really help? This is what I learned from him.

In middle-age, my life has become more about learning how to live with, learn about, accept and get better at describing the image being reflected back at me, rather than trying to change it, run from it, fix it, deny it, worry about it, complain about it and/or ignore it (common stratageies in the America of today).

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. This is my strategy. I leave my depression alone. I see it and accept that it is there. I lean into it and learn from it. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I just notice that it is there and smile at it. Sometimes I notice that it goes away.

Because of depression I am pushed further inside of myself. I am forced to let go of any kind of belief in the attainment of any real Hollywood fulfillment through economic and material gain (consumerism) and instead work towards transmuting my loneliness into real solitude.

I meditate. I contemplate. I sit alone.

Loneliness is a terrible feeling of disappearing even when we have so much and are around so many. When lonely, we can never get enough and are continually in pursuit of more. We even feel separated from ourselves when alone so we turn on the TV for company. Solitude means to be at home in ourselves. A person who is in real solitude is a person who is comfortable within themselves. A person in solitude is a person who is no longer disappearing. They have arrived. They are two people in one. Friends with themself. A person who is dealing with lonliness (which is the majority of people in American society) is no one in one. They have no friend within to sit with.

The person who is striving for happiness is often no one in one. This feeling of being no one within is the fuel that keeps us searching for more. Some of the greatest empires and fortunes have been built by these kinds of people. But this striving is an endless pursuit because it is the pursuit which is creating the loneliness.

Depression pushes us down into solitude. The person with depression is given the opportunity to become more at home within themselves by being pushed further within. The person who survives and successfully manages depression is the person who has been able to move from loneliness into solitude. Those who do not survive depression or who end up having depression destroy their lives, have not been able to move through loneliness. They get stuck in continually feeling as if they are disappearing inside because they are pursuing happiness on the outside.

So yes, I do chose to be depressed. Why not? Depression helps me to relate to the world in a way that feels more logical and sane. The happiness and positivity craze that the vast majority of people are suffering from at this moment in history, only leads a person away from themselves and towards more lonliness. Just do a Google search on the amount of people taking psychiatric medications and buying self help books in this country. The pursuit of happiness and positivity creates a superficial existence that lacks substance because it is always in pursuit of something. Depression is deepening. It pushes a person further within themselves because there is the realization that the loneliness in the outside world can never bring them the happiness they were looking for.

Fuck happiness. Stop buying their books and going to their workshops. Stop ingesting their pills. By now don’t you see that it does not work? Instead, get better at being depressed.

It is only through going further within, through the deepening of one’s relationship with oneself that real solitude can be attained. And it is when we discover solitude within ourselves, that we really start to live free.

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

My Sleeping Wife

Every morning starting at 8, I begin the long process of waking up my sleeping wife. She sleeps in the nude and at around 8am all the blankets are pulled off and her naked and supine body just rests there. Sometimes I imagine that this is how she would look if she were dead. The bedroom is completely dark even though the sun is very much new and alive outside.

I tell her it is time to wake up but she does not respond. I go back to reading my book.

At 9am I remind her that she is missing the best part of the day. Mornings are a time of renewal. Everything has a fresh start and is yet to be destroyed by the rest of the day and night. I try to entice my wife with a cup of two hour old coffee heated up on the stove, but her body refuses to move. Looking at my wife I often think how good her body looks in the nude but how much better it would look if she would just move.

Sometime at around 11am I return to the dark bedroom and remind my wife that she is sleeping her life away. By this time her body has shifted into a different position. Often she is laying on her back and I will notice if her pubic hair remains untended to. Sometimes I will receive a response from some part of her that is still alive, which says something like, I don’t want to get up. Please just let me sleep. I love you. She seems agitated but calm and indicates that she wants to be left alone. What kind of thirty-year-old woman sleeps like this? Isn’t this the time when a young person should be most engaged in life? But I keep these thoughts to myself and let her sleep.

At around 1pm I will ask my sleeping wife if she would like me to bring her some lunch and she always answers no. Sometimes she will even say that she needs to be careful with her weight so please do not entice her with food. But doesn’t she need to eat? I will think about all the things which could go wrong from a lack of nutrition but not say anything about it. Not to mention what happens to a body when it goes without any sunlight. It seems as if my sleeping wife just wants to hurry up and be old.

In mid-afternoon I confess to becoming mad. What kind of way is this to live? She is neglecting so much in her life? Why can’t she just get it together and wake up? If she would just start exercising everything would feel better. She needs to wake up and tend to her life! It is just not healthy to be in bed this long. All these thoughts and more start racing through my head at around 3 pm. What I do not seem to understand is that my sleeping wife is tired of life. She can not handle the load of responsibilities she must tend to as an adult and would rather just remain asleep. I don’t think this is a good coping mechanism.

I realize that my wife is a shy person who does not enjoy interacting with most people but this is no way to avoid the world. At around 5pm I will tell her this. I will tell her that being an adult involves doing a lot of things that you do not want to do and this is why most adults are terribly unhappy and addicted to so many things. Rather than sleeping all day I tell my wife that she needs to find healthier ways of being an adult in this messed up world but my wife just continues to sleep. At this point she is usually laying on her stomach, on top of our comforter. I notice how healthy and appealing her butt still looks. I feel my libido spike and I want to reach out and touch her butt. I always abstain because I know she would become violently angry if I invaded her space. I think about masturbating right there and then at the edge of our bedroom but never do.

At around 7pm I go back into the bedroom, this time frustrated and indignant (it is the same every day) and notice that she is not there. She has finally gotten out of bed and is either standing naked in the kitchen or she is naked on the toilet. If the human animal could be in a state of hibernation all the time I know my wife would never get up. But because she exists in a human body she must wake up. Often I will find her standing in front of the refrigerator eating various forms of vegan food. I will ask her if she wants me to make her something and she always says no. I will ask her if she heard about the most recent terrorist attack and she always says no and that she does not care.

At around 8pm, after taking a long shower, my sleeping wife is back in bed and will remain there for almost another twenty-four hours. At this point I no longer bother her even though I am completely frustrated by this on-going situation. I understand that this is how she is choosing to respond to living in the messed up adult world but I feel like there are more proactive and responsible choices that she could make. But what can a man do whose wife has decided to remain asleep? You try waking a sleeping wife up. Any attempt to intervene just pisses her off. I have learned through time and effort to let her be and instead make friends with my own loneliness and despair by reading a lot of books.

I am usually in bed around 10pm and try not to bother her.

The Pervert’s Guide To A Small Town

Hello there. I have begun a new writing and drawing project on Tumblr called The Pervert’s Guide To A Small Town. I don’t know why I am doing this but it may have something to do with being a pervert living in a small town. Please feel free to come and join me on this perverted journey. Thank you.

Boredom’s Bite or The Rotting Animal

It has come back to bite him in the ass. And the brain. And the chest. And the heart. And deep down in the penetralias of his soul. This is the thing about boredom. It is not a superficial thing. It may begin that way but as time moves on it goes deeper and deeper. Once boredom is in deep it is almost impossible to eradicate. It gradually ruins a person’s entire life. To eradicate boredom will require either complete self-destruction or obedient self-renunciation. Anything in between just will not work. He has tried.

It has come back to bite him in the ass and the brain and the chest and the heart and deep down in the penetralias of his soul because he never used to suffer boredom’s bite. He was free of boredom and would tell people that if they were bored it was only because they were boring people. Or he would quote the poet Rilke and say that, “If you are bored it is because you are not being poet enough.” He never had gratitude for the fact that he was not bored. He never appreciated not being bored. He just assumed that boredom was a failure of the human spirit and he had not, nor would he ever fail in that way. He was an artist, a writer, a reader and enjoyed going out and having all sorts of interesting experiences. How could he ever be bored? It would not happen to him. Boredom could only infect those who have conformed and given in.

Now many years later he is bored all the time. His boredom may lighten its weight from time to time but it is always present. It is always something he is having to push against. How did this happen? He will try and understand what brought it on in the hopes that he can return it back to where it came. He cannot locate a single point from where it began but he knows it began to germinate when he moved to a suburb where he knows no one, bought a house, started a business and settled in. But how could this be? He loves his home and his wife. He has a nice and peaceful life. He makes decent money, he has a lot of debt to pay, he owns nice things, he has a working fireplace, he is relatively healthy. It is the American Dream right? But he does not like his line of work (even though he feels guilty about not being more grateful for it) or the community where he lives (even though he feels guilty about not being more grateful for it) but how can not liking these things be affecting him so deeply? His daily practice of making art and writing has dissipated. He has no engaging conversations with anyone. He has no friends. He spends a lot of his time cleaning his house. His work is painfully dull and routine. The suburb where he lives is dull. There is no place for him to go outside of his home so he spends most of his free time stuck in his home. Even a beautiful home can become a prison if you spend too much time there.

The problem with boredom is that it generates more of itself. Like cancer, boredom rapidly multiplies until its host is left feeling empty inside. This is the problem with boredom and battling it with alcohol, drugs or marijuana only works for a very brief duration. Naturally one thinks, “Well, just read or listen to records or watch a good film or have an orgy or go into the city and you will not be bored anymore. Just do something! Only boring people are bored.” The thing about boredom is that when left untreated, when allowed to just sit there, it will eventually thaw a person out. It will cause the individual to rot away from the inside out until little life is left on the inside of them. Decomposition and decay often happens way before a person physically dies. Boredom can kill a person while still alive. The bored person loses interest in everything. Even when the bored person does read, listen to records, goes to an orgy, goes into the city, makes art or watches good films- they still feel flat inside.

Boredom is a terrible affliction. In Antiquity doctors referred to boredom as an untreatable disease. They recommended that the patient engage in intensive prayer and deep breathing not to cure the patient but to prevent them from going insane or taking their own life. Only boring people are bored. The problem with this idea is that boredom creates boring people. A person is not born bored. Boredom gradually settles in at some point in a person’s life and then it rapidly multiplies. Boredom feeds on routine and suburbs. These are the places where it grows best. A person who is involved in routine and lives in suburbs must be continually vigilant for the presence of boredom. If they are not vigilant the boredom will settle in and grow, eating away at them from the inside out. Once this process of decomposition begins, it is almost impossible to completely eradicate without engaging in some kind of continual self-destruction or self-renunciation.

He is not able to commit to either of these. Instead he just sits home night after night, trying to involve himself in some kind of book or music. He contemplates engaging in some form of Tibetan self-renunciation but has not been able to do so yet. His sense of self is still too strong and his boredom has prevented him from feeling interested in anything. To his surprise, he has become a rotting animal.

 

 

The Man Who Did Not Want To Get Dressed

On Facebook people refer to my status updates as status downdates.

On Twitter my tweets are thought of as negative yelps that no one hears.

I lose followers and readers in the same way that an aging man loses strands of hair.

That is ok. I understand. In this day and age of widespread happiness propaganda, no one likes a constant reminder of that which we all wish would just shut up and disappear.

I prefer to keep knowledge of all possible negative outcomes close by my side. It’s a weapon that prevents me from getting caught up in the societal phenomena known as the suspension of disbelief.

My mind continually contemplates all that is wrong or can go wrong. It is a life sentence I did not create. Maybe it is the price one must pay for growing up around people who survived the holocaust. My disillusionment has grown up along side me in the same way the trees and my little sister have.

This is why I refuse to get dressed.

What is the point? Why waste the time?

There was a time when I loved fashion. I was the best dressed guy in my neighborhood. But why waste time with any of that anymore? One can only push away reality for so long. Fashion was helpful at one time but it is not anymore.

Do I even really exist? This is a question I often ask myself.

My wife seems to think that I am just defeated. Maybe so. Overtime I see how no one likes my status downdates, no one responds to my tweets and no one reads any of the blogs that I work hard to create.

I am uncomfortably aware of my own futility.

I see how others have hundreds of likes with every one one of their status updates and I become even more aware of my non-existence. Maybe my wife is right, whether it is conscious or unconscious, some place deep in me I feel as if I have received an F on my report card.

Why get dressed?

My shoes are untied. My sweatpants keep falling down around my knees. My underwear is too tight around my balls. I have been wearing the same black t-shirt for days. More than ten young people have melted in an Oakland warehouse party and all they wanted was a night to break free from all the bullshit social restraints. Why get dressed?

What is the point to any of this? Time is gradually sucking all of us up into its Great cocoon and turning us into something that will no longer, in any way, resemble the person we are now. None of us are even aware of this happening. Except for me of course. I see every little wrinkle forming on every persons face.

Do you understand what we are dealing with here? The gravity of this situation. Staring off into the digital world inside your smartphone will not save you. In retrospect, it will only make everything happen at much quicker speeds.

I’m not getting dressed today. My wife wants me to get dressed and go out with her. Some place fun, she suggests. But I will remain in the same clothes I fell asleep in. I don’t even want to tie my shoelaces. What is the point? It is all one twisted joke played on every single one of us.

But you have to find the beauty within all of it. If you don’t you will rapidly dissolve away. Or you will solidify into stone. There is beauty to be found in the heart of darkness. It just takes some effort. Get naked and have kinky sex with some of your friends. Drink good wine or beer. Maybe even treat yourself to good quality gin. Spend your money on things you want. Take up the habit of buying a lot of books and records. Even though you can’t read or listen to them all right away, just having them arounds gives a person something to look forward to. It is an easy way to have a sense of purpose. And without a sense of purpose we are all even more fucked than we already are.

I find beauty in not getting dressed. In sitting in my reading chair reading various books while not caring about getting dressed. Sometimes I will go into my garden, take off all my clothes and jack off into the flowers. Few things make more sense to me than jacking off into flowers.

For me a good day is a day that I have no reason or need to get dressed. Days that I am forced to get dressed because of financial necessity are terrible days. They are days that I must do things that I know are futile to do but necessary in order to sustain a decent quality of life. On these days I am no different from Sisyphus, rolling the proverbial boulder up and down the steep and painful hill.

But I know where to find the beauty. It is a practiced skill. I am able to find it for brief moments even on dark days where I am forced to get dressed. I have to get dressed. But I really do not want to get dressed. I want to stay as I am now, all the time.

There is a real point to all of this.

A man has less to lose and less to gain when he refuses to get dressed.