𓂀 signal vs. noise

All, LEVELS, Poetry

The Goddesses and the Gods sing my song
(La la la la la, La la la la la la, La la la la la, La la la la)
Sirens and The Princes sing my song and they love me;
For when vibrations resonate with their own frequencies,
There is (always) harmony:
It’s how friends, lovers, scoundrels, and fools fall thick as theives

Conversely,
When the energies, archetypes, and their consciousnesses are not aligned and do not resonate, vibrate, or match,
Then there is dissonance,
And things are (always) inharmonious,
Their presence grating on us like a loud motorbike,
And not the calming eye of the gods and goddesses
𓂀;
People are energetic mirrors,
Reflecting and communicating,
From their surfaces and their depths
Back to our own conscious and unconscious minds,
Creating space
Where something is shared:
The transference of meaning:
The truth of inner and outer sight,
So that from the goddess there emerges the god,
And in the intellect of another, we find our own intelligence,
Which wants no mask,
(tired as it is of not being seen and thus being masked)
For others reflect back their counterparts in us,
And we see ourselves in them
And the stage is set for the players to begin and end

My Teddy, Myself

All, Childhood, Journal, life, MyFavoritez, Personal Mythology, Writing

I don’t have many childhood memories but I remember the book, and the bear.

The book was small, with rounded cardboard pages.

I must have read it a million times, though the ending made me so sad.

And today I can think of nothing else. I tried searching on google for it, as I have many times before, but I never find it.

I’m thinking of recreating it.

I have to have it. And the bear.

Oh the bear.

What a sad ending he had: in the book and in my life.

I remember coming across a meme awhile back that got me thinking of the bear and the book. For they were twine, with each other as well as with me.

The Meme

Of course, I am still emotionally attached. Or else I wouldn’t be sitting in the bath, writing this on my phone.

Back to the book: we’ll get to the fate of the bear at the end.

The book had thick cardboard pages, each with real life photographs of the teddy bear, documenting his journey as he begins to messily bake cookies – only bake isn’t the right word, for he never makes it that far.

While he makes the dough, he keeps tasting it, adding more honey, more chocolate chips. But it’s not quite right, so he keeps tasting it.

Then, at the end, the baking sheet is empty and so too his mixing bowl. He had tasted all the dough there was. And he was sad. And I was sad.

I owned him; I loved him. I had the bear from the book. He was my best friend.

And for a child as lonely as I was, he was a loyal friend. I talked to him. He slept with me. I cuddled him, held him tightly, no doubt releasing oxytocin in my poor little body; for my childhood was not a happy one.

And I don’t know what happened to the book.

But I know what happened to the bear.

I was 12 or 13, maybe 14. He had been my best, my only friend, for years.

And we had moved, so many times – often in the middle of the night. There was an extended stay in a mouse-infested Travelodge. My mom set traps that safely caught the mice, and we released them. But then we had moved to a place I loved.

It was, to this day, practically the only place I remember of my early years. Not that it wasn’t without its striking tragedies, but my memoirs will one day give you an account of those. This was the less intense tragedy, but no less traumatizing. For it was the end of that place, and the end of my teddy bear and I.

My mom and I had found the place together. I loved it right away. It was big, multiple stories, there was a fireplace. A few years later, when we lived in a shabby apartment but a few blocks away, I would go there to be picked up by friends, still pretending I lived there.

I remember one day my dad got a satellite installed on the roof, to trade stocks.

Maybe it was my childhood intuition, but I came to him one day crying.

I told him that I didn’t wan’t to have to move, that I wanted to stay in this place and that I loved this place. He seemed secure in his response, told me, “come here.”

I followed him up the stairs and he removed a fireproof briefcase safe from his closet. He used the analog combination dial to open it, and inside he showed me a bunch of pure silver coins, which meant nothing to me, but he told me they were worth something and that we were fine.

It wasn’t long after we were evicted.

I was so upset. Upset is not even the word. I don’t even remember where we moved after, maybe Lamont, maybe Diamond, maybe Grand, I could give you a hometown tour of all the places we lived.

I just remember having to pack, and I took my teddy bear to the dumpster, where I stomped on him, yelled at him, and threw him inside.

And it’s one of my biggest regrets.

Not long after this incident, I began smoking pot, drinking. And looking back, that moment, when I threw him away, that was the end of my childhood.

And twenty years later, I’m only now starting to recover it, myself.

To my teddy, whom I loved dearer than anything in my childhood – who was always there for me – I am so sorry I abandoned you, and subsequently myself.

I think I’ll drive to K-Mart tonight and find you again, reincarnated in another.

On the way back home.

Loomings: My Life and Dreams

All, Journal, life, Writing

I come here for pharmakon, the healing act of writing: I need it as I’m rediscovering myself as an adult, seeing my light and dark in their full brilliance. And, really, I just want to trust myself, that I will follow my inner voice.

Fear can make people do funny things. It’s made me forget myself, shy from deepest dreams, and do things I hate – for far. too. long.

This is the beauty of being overwhelmed. This is the beauty of feeling like you don’t want to carry on in this way. This is the call to go into the wild again; for, often, in our quest to stay within our comfort zones, we end up massively, painfully uncomfortable.

Anyone who has worked hard to pay their bills month in and month out, and has woken up miserable one day, and asked themselves, ‘Why the fuck am I doing this?’, knows exactly what I am talking about.

I am reminded of the opening to Moby Dick, in the appropriately titled first chapter, ‘Loomings’:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago–never mind how long precisely –having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off–then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

It is a damp, drizzly November in my soul.

And though I ran off “to sea” after high school by joining the Navy, it is surprising I – who loved ships and men and sailing as a child – ended up a fucking pale computer nerd rather than a salt-tanned sailor. But there is still time. I’m just ready to get out of my “comfort zone” – or perhaps it’s just changing. But this is no longer comfortable.

I have made myriad mistakes in life. In-fact, I have gotten very few things right.

Books. Writing. The Ocean. These are my original loves. These are the places where I am my own again. Where I am whole and home.

Frankly, the most challenging thing about these 2.5 years I’ve spent in the mountains has not been the isolation, but the people.

As a non-binary liberal, I’m just not in a place where I am very accepted, much less all that welcome.

Yet here I am. In my house full of books. Alone. And it almost works. But it doesn’t.

Perhaps if I didn’t work. If I were only writing. That would work. Only, I work – a ton – and way too hard, for way too little.

I ended up in the same trade as my father: building websites. And I fucking hate it. Firstly, spending an obscene amount of time hunched over a screen is not natural.

In the words of Mystic Mac (Connor McGregor), “Machines don’t use machines.”

He is speaking about the naturalness of using body weight or free weight exercises, which have made him a “machine”, like a Jaguar, lean and powerful, as opposed to the unnatural nature of using “machines” in the gym, which will never turn one into a true machine. So, “machines don’t use machines.”

And I think about that. How much I would love if the only time I sat at my desk was to write. Rather than the up till now arrangement where I spent long, unrewarding workdays staring at a screen, punching keys. It’s very 1984.

Society is, after all, an incredibly shrewd machine, designed to spit out the lowest paying work for you – and in exchange for all of your time, society gives you the bare basics: a roof, food. We: the grinding gears of capitalism. Ground up and spit out.

It’s called a “rat race” as a takeaway from a laboratory experiment, in which two rats race each other for a piece of cheese. But they have used so much energy, the cheese isn’t even really worth its calories.

Sound familiar?

Life can really be like this. How the fuck do we work for years sometimes with nothing to show for it? Bad decisions. Maybe. But it’s also just the system. You are racing against all the other rats for the same cheese.

And if you are, say, an artist, cheese may not even be your goal. Your art is. So, now you have another problem: time.

Only, the time equation is compounded with another: stress, discontentment; any artist not practicing their craft knows the reality of these feelings.

So, now you’re basically living a life that is very ill-suited to your nature, your temperament, and your talent. It may even be contrary to those things.

It hurts. Trust me.

And so, here we are.

I’ve wanted to just work through it. I’ve wanted to “beat this level,” so to speak.

And I still feel like I have to.

The New York Times has an interesting piece about escaping the office for hands on work, and one of the most interesting lines is this:

Matthew Crawford, a senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia and the author of the 2015 book “The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction,” sees good sense at work among those who leave office jobs for something more concrete-seeming. The reason? Much white-collar work has become similar to assembly-line work, comprising a series of mindless tasks.

Ding ding! Bingo.

The mindlessness of programming along with the mental bandwidth required simply just aren’t worth it. Then where is left my energy to write? I’m brain dead after. Forget time to read….

As was said of one person in the article above, who left graphic design for stone masonry, as he was being “driven mad by the monotony of moving fonts around on a screen and designing restaurant menus.”

“I was giving myself up all those years to this idea that graphic design was my only choice,” Mr. Kelley said. “I went to college for it. And it really emotionally brought me down.”

Brother, I get it. I suspect many people in desk jobs get it. I don’t want to escape a desk job, I want to escape the “oppressive computermatron.” I want to spend my time writing prose, not code.

I’m reminded of Jack London’s wonderful novel, Martin Eden, in which Martin, trying to become a writer, gets a job at a high volume laundry:

But there was little time in which to marvel.  All Martin’s consciousness was concentrated in the work.  Ceaselessly active, head and hand, an intelligent machine, all that constituted him a man was devoted to furnishing that intelligence.  There was no room in his brain for the universe and its mighty problems.  All the broad and spacious corridors of his mind were closed and hermetically sealed. 

Here, the main character faces the same problem I now have.

But it was only at rare moments that Martin was able to think.  The house of thought was closed, its windows boarded up, and he was its shadowy caretaker.  He was a shadow. 

As his boss tells him:

“Rest.  You don’t know how tired you are.  Why, I’m that tired Sunday I can’t even read the papers.  I was sick once—typhoid.  In the hospital two months an’ a half.  Didn’t do a tap of work all that time.  It was beautiful.”

“It was beautiful,” he repeated dreamily, a minute later.

Oh, how I can relate. My own Yung Lean style breakdown early this year afforded me a similar escape from work.

But Martin Eden gets no escape, so he drinks:

He forgot, and lived again, and, living, he saw, in clear illumination, the beast he was making of himself—not by the drink, but by the work.  The drink was an effect, not a cause.  It followed inevitably upon the work, as the night follows upon the day.  Not by becoming a toil-beast could he win to the heights, was the message the whiskey whispered to him, and he nodded approbation.  The whiskey was wise.  It told secrets on itself.

And finally, he decides to chuck it in:

By God, I think you’re right!  Better a hobo than a beast of toil.  Why, man, you’ll live.  And that’s more than you ever did before.”

And he quits, resolved to go to sea:

At first, Martin had done nothing but rest.  He had slept a great deal, and spent long hours musing and thinking and doing nothing.  He was like one recovering from some terrible bout of hardship.  The first signs of reawakening came when he discovered more than languid interest in the daily paper.  Then he began to read again—light novels, and poetry; and after several days more he was head over heels in his long-neglected Fiske.  His splendid body and health made new vitality, and he possessed all the resiliency and rebound of youth.

Ruth showed her disappointment plainly when he announced that he was going to sea for another voyage as soon as he was well rested.

“Why do you want to do that?” she asked.

“Money,” was the answer.  “I’ll have to lay in a supply for my next attack on the editors.  Money is the sinews of war, in my case—money and patience.”

“But if all you wanted was money, why didn’t you stay in the laundry?”

“Because the laundry was making a beast of me.  Too much work of that sort drives to drink.”

She stared at him with horror in her eyes.

“Do you mean—?” she quavered.

It would have been easy for him to get out of it; but his natural impulse was for frankness, and he remembered his old resolve to be frank, no matter what happened.

“Yes,” he answered.  “Just that.  Several times.”

She shivered and drew away from him.

“No man that I have ever known did that—ever did that.”

“Then they never worked in the laundry at Shelly Hot Springs,” he laughed bitterly.  “Toil is a good thing.  It is necessary for human health, so all the preachers say, and Heaven knows I’ve never been afraid of it.  But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and the laundry up there is one of them.  And that’s why I’m going to sea one more voyage.  It will be my last, I think, for when I come back, I shall break into the magazines.  I am certain of it.”

She was silent, unsympathetic, and he watched her moodily, realizing how impossible it was for her to understand what he had been through.

“Some day I shall write it up—‘The Degradation of Toil’ or the ‘Psychology of Drink in the Working-class,’ or something like that for a title.”

Oh, yes, Jack London, I understand your Martin Eden well. Too well.

So, my desk job, programming, is my laundry, and the degradation of toil has taken its toll on me.

Only, I don’t see myself running off to sea. I moved here, to the mountains, to write. Only, two years supporting us before we broke up, and I worked a lot and wrote little. Now I have been alone four months, and there has been no big magic. Just more toil. More degradation.

But, alas, wherever you go there you are.

I have never lived anywhere two and a half years as an adult. And I don’t just want to run away; although, I miss my family deeply, having come to realize recently that I have not been there for them: the most important people in my life.

So, here I am. And it’s very uncomfortable.

I’m 33 and still figuring out how to make it work.

As part of my personal mythology, I have come to view technology as a kind of enslavement. An uncaring machine focused only on your output. As a futurist, I lean towards neo-Luddite views.

The Luddites arose in response to the rise of machines in factories in the early 19th century. Eccentric weaver Ned Ludd smashed his loom and became a folk hero. Other workers rose up, calling themselves “Luddites.” And soon factory owners were having Luddites shot, and military force finally stopped the movement.

So, a neo-Luddite, is one who is opposed to technology on moral grounds.

As someone who has wasted years of my life writing code, with nothing to show for my work, no freedom, I can’t help but feel pulled toward wanting to smash my own machines (When I had my breakdown, I did, in-fact, smash my laptop).

But the house of cards rose up again, and I am yet hounded via email and text, by my clients 7 days a week.

And I thought I could balance it. Thought I could just work hard, wake early, and write.

After having revisited Martin Eden, I feel like this goal of intellectual work / writing duality and balance is less and less realistic.

I only have so much bandwidth and the toil takes its toll. So, what am I to do?

Well, I’m here tonight, spending my Saturday night on this. This entry is an alchemical effort for me to see what I need to see.

It’s just so difficult to escape our own matrices. I thought I could gain healthy self-esteem by paying my bills. I thought I would gain my own respect and feel solid. But I feel like Bukowski, after ten arduous, soul-crushing years in the post office:

“I have one of two choices—stay in the post office and go crazy . . . or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.”

I think there is something noble in that.

Of course, I have already starved. And it wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t losing my shit and smashing my laptop.

Of course, there is the question of living. I don’t think I want to go sleep on a park bench. That’s not what my soul needs.

But I need to do something to escape the laundry, the toil and the toll.

If I were less of an introvert, I would have taken up roommates long ago. I have a 3 bedroom and live alone, but I am not much for living with others. Especially having lived with others so much in my 20s.

Taking back the means of production by building a business makes sense, only, my last two business did not succeed – despite how much I believed in them and the countless hours I put into them. So, I returned to building websites. Only, you suddenly become an employee with multiple bosses. Pulled apart in all sorts of directions, with a 24 hour workload that never actually ends. There is no, “Okay boss, we completed the tile job.” No, websites are never done.

I do have a business I want to build, and perhaps this is my last chance to try and regain control of the machine. As one youtuber said, “You have to sacrifice to regain the means of production.”

Starting a business qualifies. Also, writing books. Only, there is no promise of recompense with books. Only a firm sense of destiny. Although, there is neither promise of success with a business.

My plan has been to build this business as a means to “own my time”.

And maybe I just need to go once more into the fray. Frankly, I’m not sure I have it in me. I have been basically building websites now for the last nine years.

And I’ve had my stories ready to write for the last six. And I only nearly have one finished. And there are far bigger, more exciting stories I have to tell.

So, what am I to do? Let it all fall down around me? I have done that. Seems to be a pattern after each of my breakups. I am not interested in repeating the past any further. I get it: I need to be by myself.

I’m just in pain over my work. The stress of it. Clients expecting me to jump on the phone and spend my Saturday working. Total bullshit. And I did it to myself. Because I wanted to pay my goddamn bills.

And really, money is the root of it. I have to work in accordance to my demands. And, as I have already said, I moved here to lower them. Only, it didn’t work. I couldn’t support S and the dogs by myself. But god did I try. She knows how hard I worked.

Only, I struggled. And struggle will end most modern relationships. It’s simply too easy to find someone else. And the world is larger than ever before. If we only had 10% of the current world’s population on earth today, we would still have more people on earth than we did in the 1700s. What I’m saying is: in three-hundred years, the world’s population has exploded tenfold.

So, I think that, existentially, we live in an incredibly challenging time of rapid change. Humans never had these problems. And change is so rapid today, that we cannot even imagine the world five-hundred years from now, or even fifty years from now. I grew up before cell-phones. Soon, the phone will dematerialize into the user, as the UI becomes a part of us. And inequality will only get worse. But the system seems to work. Give them cell-phones, cars, Netflix, legal weed, Amazon / Wal-Mart, and in exchange, they’ll give you most of their waking hours. This is most of us. And if you think you’re special or somehow outside of this, you may have had some advantages…

Where we are born and who our parents are determines much of our trajectory in life. I was born to poor parents and in no way intend to continue that cycle with my own potential children. But a lot of people do, they have kids in lives they don’t like, and they essentially relegate their offspring to similar fates.

If you think I’m being too fatalistic, I recommend you take a good hard look at the world and the different class strata. People are simply born on different levels. Not to say you can’t “rise” – you can, and you can certainly “fall,” but it takes much more work to rise than to fall.

To rise, we need to establish a few things:

1. You will die, so don’t fear taking chances.

2. The means of production must be taken back from the masters (Meaning, you have to start a business or a means to produce something you can sell, rather than selling yourself or your time).

3. Your means must passively cover your expenses in order to free up your time to do what you love.

Imagine how many successes there are because select people were free to do what they loved… look at the bios of your favorite artistic heroes, there is even a classist ceiling there. The point isn’t that life is unfair, but that you need to give yourself the opportunity to succeed.

Look at my situation, I have tried and failed to give myself the opportunity to succeed as a writer. I’m still seeking out the opportunity. As any wage slave knows, you rent yourself out and do not own your own time, meaning, you don’t really own yourself. Hence, you have ‘masters’ (“clients” / “supervisors” ) and are not the master of yourself.

If you love what you are doing, this is not necessarily a problem. But if you loathe what you do, oh boy, you’re in some deep shit. And this is not a good place to be, because our time here is limited. The clock is running.

So, this the perfect time to think long and hard about dying:

Imagine you know you are dying. What do you want to do? Probably sure as shit not what you’re doing. You probably want to be with family, friends, lovers. Now imagine you’re dying and you never changed, never did what you loved. How much do you regret it, now that your time is up? ‘Immensely’ wouldn’t even begin to describe it. And if you could go back and change your life, you would.

But you can. There is yet still time.

So, what are you going to do Lawrence?

Well, once more into the fray.

I’ll put my heart and soul into the two difficult projects I have on my plate now and finish up with them (November)

I’ll beef up my portfolio and sell 2-3 large projects. (Dec-Feb).

I’ll then use a month to build the means of production to reclaim my time (AI based lead gen).

Provided this last step works, I’ll own my time.

From here, I need to decide where I am moving – the mountains are serving their purpose but it has been a self-imposed exile of sorts, and I miss my family.

I had been planning to move to LA, which I think will suit me, but I know it will only suit me provided I spend some time each month in San Diego as well.

This is big stuff but I have to see it in my mind’s eye. The third eye.

Where romantic love was once the impetus of my actions in life, those emotions have since been blunted in the face of knowing that no one can love me more than I love myself. And getting the relationship right with me will pave the way for any future romantic journeys.

My family is really important to me. And right now, I hear Churchill’s words:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

A younger me would cast off the lines and “go to sea”, so to speak, but I owe myself my most dogged determination toward my vision. What I laid out above is not a new plan. It’s my vision, and I think it will work.

It just seems to me that there is something to being closer than you think.

There are going to be obstacles. There are still unknowns that need to be resolved.

There could be a setback or two. But I can’t throw in the towel. My first tattoo was ‘n.g.u.’: never give up. I can’t think that is without significant meaning. If I gave up on my vision, who would I be: I wouldn’t be me.

But I’ll be damned if I pass the time idly and am still a servant to the oppressive computermatron a year from now. I’m too damn old and life’s too damn short.

I just watched ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ again, a movie that is deep to my personal myth, as significant as is ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’.

One of the functions of myth is to teach us to survive, and how to live a life, and what to expect.

To me, the most poignant part of Benjamin Button is this scene:

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

And I want to live a life I am proud of.

And if I find that I’m not, I want to have the courage to start all over again.

I know the big goals I have for my fiction. Those will not change. How I get there, however, may.

Life As a Failed Hypothesis: Try Again.

All, Bizness, Journal

I’ve hit a wall today. I feel like throwing up. Fact is, I’m here, where I am in life, as a result of my choices.  In a word, I made the wrong hypothesis. It’s all very complex, you see; allow me to rewind so that I may tell the story in full.

In 2010 I built a successful lead generation business that brought in monthly what many take home in a year (I tell the story here). At this same time, when I was suddenly making gobs of money, I got back together with the girl I had dated for 5 years after an approximate 24 months broken up. The conditions of the breakup where what you would call nightmarish, but I was foolish, and I suppose I sought closure.

Having gotten back together with this first love of mine, we moved to Seattle.

After 6 months, she left.

I was left alone in a condo we had spent thousands furnishing. I didn’t give a fuck about any of it. Maybe I had started the business and made the money to “win” her back. After all, my initial plan was to “randomly” pull up where she happened to be in a Lamborghini (I was 24); however, Before that ever happened, we reconnected.

Once she was gone, however, the two years of heartache, the business, all of it came crashing down. It was a house of cards. A game I had set up for someone else.

I convinced myself I hated the business and, frankly, I was in that very toxic male mode of “not giving a fuck”. Unattended to, the income dried up.

I took a 10 day trip to Hawaii, and I was every bit as lost as I had been before. Upon my return, I was facing eviction from the condo I was renting, and, suffice to say, the pain of it all was a lot. Dark days.

At about the three month mark after said ex departed, I left Seattle for Milwaukee, at the invite of a good friend whose work was taking him there.

I had no dream, no plan, no nothing. And although I had almost no money, I somehow managed to live a fairly carefree life there for a year; however, by the time I left, I was living in a motel by the airport, and only 1 friend visited me (Garry, I’ll never forget that).

When I left Milwaukee, I came to LA, where I crashed with a friend whom I had met in Santa Barbara, where we had both worked at the same bar.

LA was, in my mind, my favorite city. I felt different there.

I was also poor as a rat. I would walk to the store for a single serving of yogurt and a banana. But I was happy taking long walks through Mid-Wilshire, exploring Koreatown around sunset, headphones on. It was a calm time.

Nonetheless, I needed to feed myself, so I started building websites using the skills I had developed in my lead gen business. I hated it. You get a small deposit, you work your ass off, you get paid the balance, and then you try to find more clients (I suspect many web developers hate their work).

Around this time, while visiting my sister in San Diego, I met someone who would end up being my second love, whom I would date for three years. This is, of course, a novel in it’s own right; however, for today, I’m mainly focusing on work / career.

That said, while we dated, I at first continued building websites; however, I soon thought about entering the lead gen game again, which I did – for all of three days.

On the third day I had been running paid traffic to my landing page, I got a call from a past client (A lead reseller). I was offered a job in LA, where I would be responsible for running their marketing. And although I had already been at an approximate $300 profit for the day, I did something stupid: I took the job.

Then my girlfriend, who had been very convincing in me taking the job, backed out of moving to LA with me. What’s worse, I wasn’t even in LA, I was in Hermosa Beach, which was just a more expensive, more bro-ish version of where I grew up (Pacific Beach). I would have rather been back in Koreatown. On top of that, I wasn’t feeling empowered enough in my new job, and my efforts to communicate this – even accompanied by an offer to forgo my salary till I felt I was paying for myself – all these were met with little response.

I left the job, miserable in a city where I was so alone, and I retuned to San Diego, where I ended up moving into a little apartment in La Jolla Shores, about three blocks from the beach. Around this same time, I was offered a job consulting for another lead gen firm, located in Ohio. It was on a trip there, where I contracted blood poisoning, the result of a faulty ass piece of shit pair of tennis shoes (A story I tell here). The blood poisoning was serious, and it came to be a kind of soft turning point for me.

I was twenty-seven and working very hard to please a girl who wouldn’t even stay at my new place the first night I moved in – on my birthday!

That said, the relationship crashed and burned. We had different values.

As casual as I sound about this now, it was by no means a cakewalk; I was a fucking mess. Another multi-year relationship had ended with me being persona non-grata. These are breakups where you say and do the worst things to each other, which, of course, no matter what end of it you are on, you end up totally deflated, devoid of self-worth. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Now, at this time, I had been writing on my blog for 3 or 4 years (Since Seattle). It was also around this time that stories began to take shape in my head, novels. I knew it – I had known it all along – I was supposed to be a writer. This in mind, I began living what I imagined to be a sort of young writer’s life. I was in no way shape or form concerned one iota about the getting of money. It was like, what had all that been worth? All this chasing of money, only to end up investing in the wrong dreams, which had left me depressed and heartbroken.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the Sheriff came and let me know it was time to move out. I had simply stopped functioning. No bills had been paid. My cell phone was cut off. I simply didn’t care.

Of course, I knew all along that I wouldn’t be homeless. When I called my mom and asked if I could stay with her – something I had done before – it was an automatic yes. A friend of her’s even let me use her guest house – the main house which was occupied by various young middle-easterners, all of whom loved to smoke spliffs in the gazebo, where they had moved a TV to watch early morning soccer matches.

Again, I was doing a lot of nothing. Eventually, when a tenant came to rent the guest house, I moved back to my mom’s. I was thirty.

During this time, I had no real future plans or trajectory, other than knowing I was to be a writer. In following this, I spent my days volunteering at the library, and my nights reading everything I could get my hands on. I started to build a decent library; however, I was in my mom’s house, so the books were stacked at first along a wall, then, after, on a door, made like a desk atop two wooden folding chairs.

Not long after, I would cook down a few feet of San Pedro and have my first Mescaline experience – something that would have a profound effect on me, allowing me to see things about the world and myself I had hitherto been unawares of. There’s a reason Huxley called his book, The Doors of Perception.

I had multiple cactus tea experiences, all by myself, on a blanket near the water. Just me and my candles – two non-working cell phones for music (In case one died).

I guess I just wanted to “be”. To experience stillness and possibility.

Soon possibility would be upon me. I would fall in love again.

I remembered laying in Sarah’s bed, sleeping in one morning while she was at brunch, and saying aloud to myself, “Is this the girl you’re going to marry?”

Maybe I’ve been lucky in love. I’ve always thought so – despite things not working out in my twenties.

Sarah and I spent hours talking about what we wanted, and our values were a definite match – she even had psilocybin mushrooms in her freezer.

I soon had moved in with her, and we set up a desk we had found for me. I felt once again compelled to strike out on my own and do something.

I spent countless hours trying to build a User Experience consulting business. It failed. I tried to pivot my model to focus on the financial industry, where I felt I could make the most impact. I didn’t get a single client.

Around this same time, we were tired of apartment living in a beach town. We soon decided to move to LA; however, it would be reading Stephen King’s, On Writing, which would compel us to change our minds.

The image of Stephen King typing away in a shed for hours, living in a trailer, working in a hospital laundry, seemed almost romantic to me.

Fuck, I thought, I need to go all in on my writing. 

Besides, neither Sarah nor I was overtly materialistic, so we had no problem with a simple life – particularly one dedicated to the pursuit of my writing.

So, a plan was formed. We would move somewhere cheaper than LA. We opened the laptop and got on google maps and craigslist, zooming out from where we were.

It seemed we might be destined to move to Nor Cal, when we found a reasonably priced three bedroom on the edge of the woods, outside Big Bear, CA. Sarah left her job, working from home for a govt contractor, and I decided I would support us doing websites (It seemed fair, Sarah supported us the first six months), writing in the evenings.

Only, it wasn’t that simple. We moved to the mountains and I spent all most all of my time working, barely scraping by – despite long, often grueling hours to finish projects.

The truth is I was in a very saturated market. There are a billion front-end web people, and the price of the work you do naturally reflects this. But what drove me fucking crazy is that I had hardly written. Life up here in the mountains had become about keeping the lights on, paying the gas.

I had imagined that somehow, I could support us with my web work and write.  I had imagined that going after the money didn’t matter.

After all, I felt my writing was the only thing worth investing myself in; I didn’t want to chase money, I wanted to live simply, I wanted to write, to pursue my career as a serious novelist and screenwriter.

This was a great romanticization on my part.

I’ve come to realize plain as day that this was a failed hypothesis. In short, my writing hasn’t progressed as I’ve wanted, and I’ve struggled for months to scratch out a living doing work I loathe.

Not a recipe for happiness. In fact, it was a recipe for disaster.

Early this year, I would up having a full-blown nervous breakdown. The kind where they take you in for three days to observe you. How’s that for bragging rights? Not much.

By the time I was in the hospital, I was relieved to be there. I had had a terrible flu and hadn’t slept for a week. I was a skeleton. The first night I was there, I got up, walked down the hall, and asked the nurse for something to finally get to sleep. I was offered an injection of some sort in the buttocks, which I happily received.

My nervous breakdown over, I came home and started therapy immediately, consoled by the words of Joseph Campbell:

“If the person doesn’t listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program, you’re going to have a schizophrenic crack-up. The person has put himself off center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life and it’s not the one the body’s interested in at all. And the world’s full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.” 

I began to want to listen to myself more deeply. To avow myself not to do the thing I hate. I also realized that there was no sense in trying to live the starving artist’s life. Being a pauper is simply not for me.

So, where to from here?

Well, I’m certainly not going to continue down the same road with a failed hypothesis. I did that and surely, it’s part of what led me to have a nervous breakdown in the first place. You can’t do the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

It’s become clear to me that I cannot support my writing with freelance web-work.

This is, however, still my current bread and butter, which I have no immediate way of replacing. I can, however, change my expectations.

It’s reasonable to assume I cannot expect to flourish as a writer under these circumstances. So, firstly, I need to drop my expectations of writing until I have a reasonable means of supporting myself, Sarah, the dogs lol.

In conclusion, I’ve been looking into returning to where I started: generating leads. At one time, I was earning $2k a day without much work needed to maintain it. Today, as a freelance web developer, I have to do an immense amount of work to earn the same, and it just hasn’t been practical to write, as I’ve told above.

My new hypothesis is based around the idea of security first. I’ve built a bad life for myself as a starving artist: and maybe, the days of the starving artist are done – they certainly are for me.

I feel today, that it’s my right, my duty to create a new set of circumstances for myself, one in which I am prosperous and able to write. Maybe I just lacked the imagination or the confidence to go after that in the first place. My younger self certainly would have dreamed a better dream, but after my twenties, I had such a bad taste in my mouth about the pursuit of money, I just thought it would be crazy to take that route – particularly after the defeat of two failed consulting business models. But I was never a good consultant. I was never a good employee – even when I was a successful employee I loathed the Sisyphean nature of trading time for money, day in day out.

I said something to Sarah recently, about how there are other people, who, with my knowledge and experience in the lead gen industry would have undoubtedly gone back again and gotten after it. I simply wasn’t hungry before. Now I am.

Thirty-two and starting to build a new life again. I mean, isn’t that what it takes sometimes: getting the shit kicked out of you and getting up again. And maybe there are other people who would not get back up, but I have to.

I just don’t see any other way. And really there’s not. So I have to do what I have to do.

The idea is that I’ll create a comfortable life for myself, and that I’ll once again own my time, which I will invest into my writing. It reminds me of a paradigm I wrote about a while back: Hacking an Open Source Cognitive Model for Goal Prioritization and Attainment, in which I talked about how Elon Musk’s “Software” works. Essentially, we have our wants and we have reality, in between are our goals. By focusing on the right goal prioritization, we expand our reality, allowing us to attain the things we want. Elon long ago wanted to build rockets and cars. He started Zip2 / Paypal to do it. It just wasn’t possible without the capital. The same seems to be true for my writing. I need the capital to be able to commit my bandwidth to fiction, rather than web development.

And it breaks my heart to write all this today, but it’s simply the reality I now find myself in. I wanted to come here to the mountains and have a comfortable life, where I could write. I didn’t create that. I created a life of stress and struggle, and, frankly, I’ve had enough. Thankfully, I’m still young and willing to take risks, I just can’t risk continuing to live like this. It’s been hell. I had a bad hypothesis. Time to try again now.

 

Thirty-One and Change: Reflections on Experience 

All, health, Journal, MyFavoritez, Philosophy, Psychology, Self-Actualizing
This is my third and final attempt to write this entry. The previous two night’s efforts yielded a dozen or so paragraphs but nothing palpable, from the heart.

Unfortunately, I am tired and slightly stoned atm; however, this might actually work in my favor, given that it ensures I will be (Relatively) brief. And I recognize I am not generally so; although, this is largely because my prose is more the result of a process than a purpose – but I digress. Back to the matter at hand.

Twice I have worn myself out attempting to write this entry; and it would seem simple: I want to write about some of the things I have come to realize this year; however, it is not simple: it is complex.

To share my realizations – what amounts to my bedrock values and priorities at thirty-one – is to draw from what I have learned, often by living in a way that is entirely contradictory to what I am now prescribing for myself; however, this is growth – meaning: I am not losing any part of myself; in my heart, I am still the boy I was at eleven; only, now, I am a happy, peaceful, and constructive adult, which is nothing to scoff at – as any adult learns.

That said, here are the things that are sticking for me at thirty-one:

Proportion > Balance

Balance is frequently espoused as part of a happy, healthy life, which makes sense given that extremes and excesses are destructive forces for many, if not all who fail to practice moderation in their lifestyles. Unfortunately, however, my idea of balance never moderated my behavior; my idea of balance was: “Everything in moderation, including moderation itself.” Not exactly a wise prescription for living; although, most certainly a forgiving one. Only, I don’t want to stem the tide of cognitive dissonance with beliefs that directly negate my personal responsibility. As an adult, it is my responsibility to make sure that everything I do is authentically attuned to what may be called my “higher-self”, which is to say: the me that I aspire to be – the me I am committed to being. So, instead of trying to live a prescription for a balanced life, today I am more concerned with living proportionately to my needs, based on what works for me.

Balance may work for others; although, I do not pretend to know what it best for another; my principal concern is only what it best for me, based on the individualized needs of my soul. And I need proportion.

This [proportion] applies to many aspects of my life; I simply require the things that work for me in direct proportion to the degree in which they serve me. For some things, this means total abstinence, for others, it’s open season.

In short, attempting to practice balance is not a specific enough prescription for me, whereas viewing things from the perspective of proportion allows me to consciously choose only that which is suited for me. 

Cannibis, Entheogens > Alcohol

I used to think alcohol helped me, somehow made me better, more able to be myself. Talk about shit thinking; I couldn’t have been more wrong: alcohol is antithetical to who I am, to what I value – and most certainly is only a detriment to my higher-self and soul. Put simply, it doesn’t serve me one single iota. Cannibis however, and certain entheogens (Ritually used in a healthy, safe environment), have helped me. In-fact, I cleanse the doors of perception not infrequently; however, it should be said here, that this is something that works for me – again, proportion.

For those curious to learn more about psychadellics, I recommend following MAPS

Introversion > Misanthropy 

I once proudly proclaimed myself a misanthrope (Nine months ago, lol). Today, largely thanks to Sociometer Theory and Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Both of which have helped me understand man’s function as a social animal.), I actually care what other people think (As, I never before did), and my self-esteem is a million miles better for it. In short, humans need human love, acceptance, and even approval.

Experience > Wisdom 

It might be said that wisdom without experience is only advice.

It is only when we have the requisite experience and learning that we can understand the depth of even the most banal cliches.

I can’t think of how many times the most oft-uttered (And heretofore seemingly meaningless) adages, have suddenly made perfect sense to me in light of personal experience. Things like, “Be careful what you wish for” now strike me as profound and invaluable, whereas before they meant little if anything.

In short, wisdom is cheap, experience is priceless. 

On the same note, it’s amazing reading something I have read for years, and being struck in the heart by passages that before went in one ear and out the other (Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations comes to mind).

As the Tao says:

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Mature Responsibilities > Base Animal Drives

I think what separates humans from animals isn’t the lack of base, animalistic drives, but, rather, our ability to transcend and rise above them.

For much of my life I have followed the dictates of my base impulses, and it has come at the expense of my resposibilities.

I am reminded of the saying, “The mind is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

Today, I am happy to be master of the castle, lord of the manor. I no longer feel conscripted by my animalistic desires to abandon my responsibilities. Instead, I am focusing on my higher animal desires, which, unlike the lower, do not rob me of my dignity and gravitas.

Dignity > Pride

I spent much of my twenties defending my pride and abandoning my dignity. It hurts just to think about. Thankfully, however, life has humbled me. Where I once defended my pride at all costs, today I defend my dignity, which is a much more honorable source of pride than my ego ever was.

In a word, dignity, like class, is how you treat people and how you respond to the way others treat you: it is saving the world from yourself; it is the very basis of social and personal morality. 

Habits > Impulse, Whim, Folly

As mentioned, I am no stranger to my base animal desires; however, what’s more, I also know what it is to live subject to every passing whim, impulse, and folly.

I used to think this was freedom: living according to my nature  – regardless what presented itself to me as pleasing – consequences be damned.

How foolish and young I was; this was not freedom, it was ignorance. To live according to impulse is to lay victim to habits, which require self-discipline and control – the very enemies of the puer.

Today, I love the ritual of habits. As I lay here writing this, Sarah reads beside me, the dogs lay about, a fire burns in the hearth, and “Awaken, My Love!” plays cooly, melodically, in the background – a typical evening for us.

In short, I am no longer plagued by restlessness and I love the peace and security my habits bring me – Friday wake and bake included. Whatever fun I had to get here was worth it (Mostly), but I thank my lucky stars my twenties are over, and with them the impulse, whim, and folly that for so long kept me from being able to live a calm, stable life, which is by no means to say an unexciting one. 

Security > Freedom 

When most first-world white people think of freedom, they tend to envision something like the 4-Hour Workweek or perhaps being able to travel or live remotely, as many Facebook ads promise. Only, that’s not freedom (Sounds more like retirement to me); my concept of freedom looks very much like the life I am now taking up: consulting from home and daily writing fiction. Fuck getting rich if I am not writing. That is not my dream of freedom; my freedom today comes from the security I maintain, which affords me the ability to do what I love: pursue my career as a major writer.

In short, I would have no freedom without the security afforded me by the very things I once thought diametrically opposed to freedom: hard work and discipline. 

Freedom is following your dreams. Without security, this is not possible. 

For my writers out there:

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”

– E.B White

Actions > Dreams 

Following the spirit of the above, I am today interested in actions over dreams.

In a word, action is what brings dreams to life; without action dreams are only fantasies. And life is too short to spend fantasizing. Besides, real life beats masturbating any day. 

Temporality > Mortality 

I have long felt myself a Stoic – fuck, I had to be, lol *laughs at life’s major tragedies. 

Part of what has allowed me to laugh at my misfortunes (And a big part of my philosophy) was the concept of my mortality – memento mori.

Unfortunately, however, while focusing and meditating on death put things in perspective for me, it also gave me a devil may care attitude, as if saying to myself: “Don’t worry, you’re totally GOING TO DIE,” hence, why stress over this or that. In a sense it gave me the peace of a nihilist. And we all know nihilists DGAF.

Only, I want to give a fuck. After all, I can use any number of philosophies and maxims to strip myself of personal responsibility, but the fact remains: I am responsible for myself while I am here – temporarily. So, while I am here, let me live well (In accordance with reason and nature), and let me follow my dreams.

For not only will I one day die, but I will also one day be old and the ships will have sailed. 

Let me remember that I am here temporarily; let me make hay while the sun shines. 

Health > Pleasure 

Health isn’t everything, it is the only thing. Without health we have nothing; in-fact, health is my top priority in life – as it should be.

Honesty > Fear

I’m closing with this becuase without honesty – personal honesty – I would have arrived at none of these understandings.

Whatever fears, whatever vanities and insecurities might prevent me from examining my life, all are mere trivialities when compared to the benefits of living life honestly, with both feet planted on the ground.

Without personal honesty we are forever condemned to our prejudices and illusions.

In order to grow, we have to confront our fears, which simply requires being honest with ourselves. That is true bravery.

Postscript

I pride myself on living with a light-heart, and this entry was by no means heavy-hearted; however, I have definitely written many things here that were much more fun, joyous even; although, this was certainly not one of them. 

This was a serious, mature declaration of truths, many of which I had failed to consider or realize up until this point. That said, in my effort to attain proportion in my endeavors, I most certainly seek lightness, laughter, but those things require that I adhere to the above principles – for without them, I would be rudderless. 

– LB