My addictions strangle me when I’m unable to cope with situations. Hearing bad news kills. Chilling, defined here as succumbing to any addiction, then feels acceptable. If you’re anything like me, we need to re-enforce our defenses, rather than ask that the constant barrage of life’s perhaps-positives and perhaps-negatives cooperate with us. It would be nicer to have a conflict-free life. That won’t happen. Let’s instead try figuring out how to build up our defenses.
Today marks five years since I last drank. I’ve since been in many bars, been around many people drinking, but have had good enough friends to respect me, and steward me through. “If I saw you with a bottle in your hand, I’d knock it out and ask ‘what the hell are you doing?’” My external resilience has enough fortitude to endure pretty much anything now. I think it’s the internal weakness that kills us.
I don’t meditate like most people. Traditional practice asks that you should empty your mind, clear your thoughts, and calmly sit. While I’ve had some success with this method for reaching thought equilibrium, I’ve had more success in float tanks (or when I have downtime) letting the errant thoughts freely roam, with the most success occurring after going in with challenging questions that need time to develop, like a photo of an unclaimed optimal future.
I have the technical aptitude, mental fortitude, and capacity to learn a few higher paying skills in my field. I’ve turned them all down. One director was stunned at my no. This is because I realized the work that will inspire me to wake up at 4AM to start my day is not and will never be their work. When you find that work, it’s easy. How do you find that work? Gotta dig deep.
The 400th entry to Better Zombie had the wrong URL for over 12 hours… oops! That’s a trivial mistake. One problem I had growing up – maybe we all did – was the fight toward perfection through never acknowledging your mistakes. It’s always someone/something else’s fault I didn’t get that good grade. That irrational irresponsibility leads to subconscious suffering. Rather than admitting a problem to overcome it, if you avoid confronting the problem, you grow to fear it!
I’ll sometimes ask questions a self-aware videogame character might ask to progress the story along. (…I was a character in a videogame…) Especially when there’s enough time for parting words, I like asking for advice. Along with the extra lives’s worth of experience, these are the most rewarding conversations, because when faced with the reality that we may never meet again, any pretenses are dropped, and we exchange unfiltered truths about ourselves and our realities.
We have too many distractions. Some distractions are good. Too many distractions leads to that certain indecisiveness that spoils us of our time, enables us to be lazy, and prevents us from doing what we must. These distractions help us cope with terrible commutes or mediocre gigs at the expense of addressing what we must do to resolve the origins of these stressors. Taken broadly, the more we distract ourselves, the less we can do.
If “The Story” is my writing end goal, why distract myself with so much? The rowing makes sense because it’s good to be healthy. Why not compress it down? Spend that time studying fiction? Read the classics? Take classes, write drafts, send them out for criticism, revise, and learn the craft? Well, the thing about John (left) and Trishna (right) is that they’re two shades of our reality spectrum, and their story references it all.
Through many thousands of words on self-improvement, “you’ll be fine” should be the overarching mantra that glues it all together. We must now endure an unprecedented amount of stress, from work and others, in this modern reality. Wasn’t the future suppose to be easier? More stress-free? Instead we must find coping mechanisms in inebriation, toys, and escapism to cope. “What happened? We never used to need to worry like this.” “It’s stress. It affects everything [2,3].”
Words mean nothing when you’re stressed out and longing for that familiar, harmful way to decompress. Even close to five years later, the numbness of having a drink or five is still ingrained in my psyche as the ideal evening. We must instead practice alternative actions. Since I don’t think as clearly in the evenings, after constantly confronting stress, I go to sleep early to subconsciously wade through that stress to arrive at actionable solutions.