Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Plastic Community

September 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and, suffice it to say, the topic is one which is quite personal to me (though NAMI could certainly come up with a better acronym, let's be honest here).

What does this month mean?

In our trend-obsessed culture of hashtag campaigns, and social media activism it can be exceedingly easy to allow ourselves to give an obligatory nod to the showcased cause (if it even gains enough traction to be noticed) and then move right on to the next bandwagon event.

We are a culture of consumers.
We consume commodities and causes alike, all the while not allowing deep thought to penetrate our superficial exterior.

It is very interesting to me, to witness the behaviors of those immersed in western cultures. Human beings, desperate to be known, yet isolating ourselves constantly. Afraid of vulnerability. Obsessed with generality. We'd far rather talk about the weather, or that weekend we got shit-faced once upon a college-time, than to talk about the present.

How are you?

How is anyone, really?

Would I tell you that, as a father, I'm scared to death of the world I'm bringing my daughters up in? Would I tell you that I'm stressed as fuck about money, or that I don't understand the purpose of my existence or, even worse, that I fear I'll never even come close to achieving the things I could if I would simply just apply myself.

No, I'd rather tell you that everything is great.

How are the kids? They're fine.
How is the job? It's fine.
How is your relationship? It's totally fine.

Because, the truth is, that as much as we wish we could share our innermost anxieties, fears and struggles, we are really, truly, painfully aware that we have forgotten what it means to care. We don't truly care about others so why would they care about the things that we have to say?

It may sound callous. It should.

Somewhere along the way we gained everything we ever really dreamed of in this society, and we lost our soul and what it actually meant to be human in the process.

We have all the fancy gadgets, plenty to eat and overeat, nice cars and smartphones.
We have our carefully crafted Facebook life, with the friends we never see, yet kill ourselves to appear funny, hip, or deep to. All for a like or a retweet.

And all the while we are dying inside.

Our souls are decaying because our relationships aren't genuine. Our communities are in disarray.

We try to ignore this simple fact.

Take an overpriced pill, and try not to get mired into the danger of overthinking.
You're overthinking it. Stop it!

I submit to you that we don't think damn near enough nowadays. We could all do with a good bit of overthinking and reflection upon the world we've created. The world we're giving to those around us. The world where all is not OK. The world where we can't medicate the pain away, and shouldn't desire to.

It's time to face the demons.

The path to strength and freedom is through acknowledging the problem exists, and relentlessly attacking the problem until we emerge, bloodied and victorious. Knowing that we've overcome the darkness by showing it light. Light is painful, but it reveals to us the truth. The truth that you and I are broken beings. That we are lonely and desperate for authentic relationship. That our souls are starved for love, and that a computer screen or a slickly marketed product won't relieve that ache we feel when our soul remains without sustenance.

So, when I think about Suicide Awareness Prevention Month, I don't think about a month. I don't think about a period of time. I think about how we've gotten to this place. I think about a society in which people have everything yet feel so empty that they have to medicate or self-destruct.

I think about the world we live in that is more connected than ever yet faces an astronomical deficiency in basic social skills, and feels the effects of mass alienation between neighbors, and fellow human beings in general.

We need to think again my friends.
We must reclaim what it means to be truly human.

This means embracing the pain, and darkness, yet knowing that in doing so we are not alone because we've also reclaimed what it means to have true and honest relationships. Knowing that though we face all manner of hardship, that we never again have to fight it or struggle alone.

I wonder if we would dare to be so bold...

Plastic Community

September 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and, suffice it to say, the topic is one which is quite personal to me (though NAMI could certainly come up with a better acronym, let's be honest here).

What does this month mean?

In our trend-obsessed culture of hashtag campaigns, and social media activism it can be exceedingly easy to allow ourselves to give an obligatory nod to the showcased cause (if it even gains enough traction to be noticed) and then move right on to the next bandwagon event.

We are a culture of consumers.
We consume commodities and causes alike, all the while not allowing deep thought to penetrate our superficial exterior.

It is very interesting to me, to witness the behaviors of those immersed in western cultures. Human beings, desperate to be known, yet isolating ourselves constantly. Afraid of vulnerability. Obsessed with generality. We'd far rather talk about the weather, or that weekend we got shit-faced once upon a college-time, than to talk about the present.

How are you?

How is anyone, really?

Would I tell you that, as a father, I'm scared to death of the world I'm bringing my daughters up in? Would I tell you that I'm stressed as fuck about money, or that I don't understand the purpose of my existence or, even worse, that I fear I'll never even come close to achieving the things I could if I would simply just apply myself.

No, I'd rather tell you that everything is great.

How are the kids? They're fine.
How is the job? It's fine.
How is your relationship? It's totally fine.

Because, the truth is, that as much as we wish we could share our innermost anxieties, fears and struggles, we are really, truly, painfully aware that we have forgotten what it means to care. We don't truly care about others so why would they care about the things that we have to say?

It may sound callous. It should.

Somewhere along the way we gained everything we ever really dreamed of in this society, and we lost our soul and what it actually meant to be human in the process.

We have all the fancy gadgets, plenty to eat and overeat, nice cars and smartphones.
We have our carefully crafted Facebook life, with the friends we never see, yet kill ourselves to appear funny, hip, or deep to. All for a like or a retweet.

And all the while we are dying inside.

Our souls are decaying because our relationships aren't genuine. Our communities are in disarray.

We try to ignore this simple fact.

Take an overpriced pill, and try not to get mired into the danger of overthinking.
You're overthinking it. Stop it!

I submit to you that we don't think damn near enough nowadays. We could all do with a good bit of overthinking and reflection upon the world we've created. The world we're giving to those around us. The world where all is not OK. The world where we can't medicate the pain away, and shouldn't desire to.

It's time to face the demons.

The path to strength and freedom is through acknowledging the problem exists, and relentlessly attacking the problem until we emerge, bloodied and victorious. Knowing that we've overcome the darkness by showing it light. Light is painful, but it reveals to us the truth. The truth that you and I are broken beings. That we are lonely and desperate for authentic relationship. That our souls are starved for love, and that a computer screen or a slickly marketed product won't relieve that ache we feel when our soul remains without sustenance.

So, when I think about Suicide Awareness Prevention Month, I don't think about a month. I don't think about a period of time. I think about how we've gotten to this place. I think about a society in which people have everything yet feel so empty that they have to medicate or self-destruct.

I think about the world we live in that is more connected than ever yet faces an astronomical deficiency in basic social skills, and feels the effects of mass alienation between neighbors, and fellow human beings in general.

We need to think again my friends.
We must reclaim what it means to be truly human.

This means embracing the pain, and darkness, yet knowing that in doing so we are not alone because we've also reclaimed what it means to have true and honest relationships. Knowing that though we face all manner of hardship, that we never again have to fight it or struggle alone.

I wonder if we would dare to be so bold...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

To Dream Boldly


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

When Marianne Williamson famously quips that our "playing small" does not serve the world, it ought to shake us. How could it not? If we truly understood the narrowness of our vision juxtaposed with the scope of our potential as human beings it would have the potential to either motivate us to a higher plane of perception, or to steep us into a deep mire of nihilism. 

I advocate balance.

Perspective is everything. We must understand our flaws and limitations as finite beings. We must understand that it is our natural state and disposition to care about ourselves only. This is human nature, and it ought to be studied vigorously, because to know one's own tendencies is part of becoming an empowered individual. We can't stop there however...

After we identify our weakness, after we identify our natural tendencies to selfishness, indolence, and lack of perspective, we must vigorously engage those tendencies much as an athlete engages his or her training.

Discipline and exercise are the mediums which lead us from weakness to strength. Do you think the Olympian was born the way he was? Do you believe the scholar simply attained her status by  existing? We shy away from these things, these essential disciplines, because we intuitively know they are going to be attained through the crucible of hardship, and the idea of sustained discomfort frightens us. As human beings we allow ourselves tiny doses of discomfort to reassure ourselves that we are indeed growing, but our growth in these circumstances will be, at best, stunted.

What if we learned to dream as we were truly meant to dream?

What if we could envision ourselves being lifted out of the cage of limitations that we, and others, have continually constructed around us our entire lives?

What if our vision brought us close to the very stars we convince ourselves are out of our reach?

Would it be worth it? Would it be worth defying those who tell you that you won't succeed? Would it be worth brushing away those who ask you to settle in the comfort of mediocrity, the realms frequently tread by the masses? 

Would you be willing to feel the pain of striving for the superhuman, simply to gain a taste of the ecstasy that is realization of our true, hidden nature?

Have you dared to dream boldly lately? 

Or are you too afraid of the cost and allowing yourself to be defined by the accomplishments of the conformists.

Live free, and dream once again my friends...you can't get this moment back.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Activate


What are we doing here? 

When I look around I see things moving, yet moving without purpose. I see existence without meaning. I see religion without action. I see freedom secured with restriction.

Activate your mind, my friend. 

Take it for a walk, give it some exercise and break away from popular culture. Choose to see the tragedy in front of you, saturated with possibilities. Yes, life is tragic. We mustn't shy away from this fact. It is how we handle pain that enables us to experience genuine joy and happiness. If we retreat from the darkness then we are unable to understand why it is we exist. Darkness needs to be combatted. 

Yes, there is pain in life. 

Yes, we love and lose. We witness horror. We experience heart wrenching exploitation and see brokenness in front of our very eyes; but if it is we who choose to look away, to spare ourselves and indulge instead in empty pleasure, then who will remain to heal the wounds of the world?

Who will carry the broken?
Who will free the oppressed?
Who will hear the cries of the suffering and respond?

Religion without action is dead.
Freedom regulated is tyranny.

To break these institutional chains we must activate our minds. We must challenge the status quo, and call bullshit where it exists. We must allow ourselves to see the unseen, and feel the unfelt and we must allow it to change us from within.

The world won't wait for us to step up.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Discipline

We live in a culture of victimhood. It never ceases to amaze me the excuses people will give to justify their mediocrity, and poor choices. It never ceases to amaze me how willing individuals are to find a scapegoat rather than examine their own flaws.

In my most recent reading project, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, the principals laid out are so simple. Ridiculously simple. The things that separate the rich and poor in society aren't difficult concepts to grasp. The breakdown comes when individual discipline is required. Controlling oneself is a tall order, it is in our nature to indulge our desires and whims after all, but the few who can have risen above the basic human standard and opened themselves to suffering. It is in that pain, that self-denial, that they have thrived.

Being rich isn't a solution the government can offer. The reason you aren't rich isn't because the "system is rigged" or the rich are crooks. The reason is laziness, a lack of capacity for discipline. 

Stop blaming others for your shortcomings and take a good, long look in the mirror.