[Tripping On…] Progress Isn’t Linear

It’s been frustrating to me that my progression hasn’t been smoother. It’s unfortunate that I haven’t been able to recover my health as quickly as I would have wanted. That’s when I have to remember that like any success story in life, it’s not a linear course. There will be bends in the road, ups, downs, and as I wrote in a recent review, “I would say that success is a matter of repeatedly failing.[1]”

Let’s explore that review since it relates to my general health.

Someone randomly suggested that I listen to an album for my 2020 Album Review Game with the note “Good luck lol.” Their review was scathing. To avoid going off on tangents here, I’ll quote my review below, but when I wrote the part about how success isn’t linear, it was because I’m currently seeing how rough it is to be successful in my own physical health. I’m young enough that I should be able to recover from spine surgery without much of a problem, right? When I took my post-surgery painkiller Oxycodone, it was easy to get out and do things.

My body was still experiencing pain, but it wasn’t registering the pain.

I ended up pushing myself so hard that I had a concerning right side pain. X-ray results showed nothing because it was my lungs working harder than that had in months. I didn’t think much of it because I was still taking some painkillers, as needed, but now that I’m trying to avoid taking them as much as possible, it’s appeared that my physical health has reduced significantly. I can’t go down the stairs, throw out trash, pick up my mail, and walk around without experiencing pain. The more days in a row I remain at home, resting besides walking around at a slow pace or maybe rearranging light objects, the further I imagine I could go.

It’s not that the pain has stopped, it’s more that I’m trying to manage it myself.

I needed to take another painkiller yesterday – my first in five days – because my body has, each day, each time I don’t get up when my tailbone starts to hurt, hurt more and more. The first few days are fine. It keeps hurting more and more, and it’s not that the pain ever goes away. The most it does is subside as I distract myself. I think the main problem is that I don’t have a good pain management process since I’m still experiencing pain after the surgery. When I meet with my current spine doctor next week, I’ll ask about what we can do, since if I sit more than thirty minutes, my tailbone will hurt enough to where if I go walk around, I’ll usually be fine, but if I press on, to say one hour, then my tailbone will hurt significantly more for significantly longer.

It’s been a good excuse to tidy up, however, I get exhausted from that rather quickly.

I’d rather, then, come up with a game plan for how I can proceed over the next few weeks. Is it taking a medication once daily? I don’t feel ready for physical therapy yet, so I don’t think it’s a good idea to do that, even if what I’ve been trying to do is lift my legs up more to maybe stretch my tailbone. It seems to be helping or maybe it’s making it worse?

I know logically that I’m making progress, but I feel like all I’m doing is regressing.

Compared to before surgery, my pain levels are overall less. I’m writing this on November 30. My pain levels are around the levels they were in late July, which was the point where I stopped being able to go to any supermarket or do much of anything other than stay at home and wait. I have another week before that meeting with my current spine doctor, so I’m waiting more. I want to do some errands, so I’m doing what I can to manage my pain without taking more Oxycodone.

Here’s the conflict and balance:

If I take Oxycodone, I feel pain relief, but I can’t drive for four days. If I don’t take Oxycodone, and if I can manage to get through four days of mild to moderate pain, then I can drive out to do an errand or two. Ideally, I want to get to a point where my pain levels are closer to before April, or, no chronic daily pain, no matter how inconsequential. It’s a difficult balance because this Oxycodone was prescribed for post-surgery pain, and while I’m still in the post-surgery stages, the pain I’m experiencing is involved with the transitionary stage from post-surgery to work. The “pre-work” stage?

I don’t imagine I’m alone in this sort of transition.

The surgery removed the most painful element from my body. There are other pained elements, ranging from the tailbone to other major or minor aches, which are preventing me from getting out. I don’t feel confident that going for extended walks will help me in this condition because I have needed to take my post-surgery Oxycodone to relieve the pre-work pain, which sets me further back in my goals of returning to work and being able to go for walks without experiencing pain. I also know that if I abuse the Oxycodone, first, I only have a limited supply; second, it’s easy enough to become addicted without receiving any additional medical assistance.

So, I opt to stay at home and let my body rest as much as it can.

I still have eleven minutes before I should stand up, but my tailbone and lower back are already starting to feel that same pain that I’ve been feeling over the past few days. I figured the Oxycodone I took yesterday would have alleviated most of my pain today, but it did not. I needed to sleep in, was tired throughout the day, and I’m not feeling well.

This recovery path wasn’t linear.

Quotes: [1] As promised, here is my review of this album called RoboWorld.
This album was recommended to by me with FentonRF the note “Good luck lol.” Check out 2020: An Album/EP/Mixtape Review for FentonRF’s thoughts, which start with, “This is by far the worst thing I have ever seen or listened to. 100 minutes long and every track was droning, miserable, poorly produced, repetitive and self-centered.” Well, FentonRF is not wrong, but what’s the value of just making this album a punching bag without some substantial constructive criticism? This album reminds me of some of my earliest writing. I turned 34 this year. I don’t know how old Almighty Tesla is, but let’s just guess 18. The year was 2004 when I turned 18. I left high school to enter college. During that summer between high school and college, my final summer without responsibility and transitioning into adulthood, I attempted to write my first novel, References. I haven’t returned to it in 16 years, but I have fond memories of writing it. This is something I wouldn’t probably cringe at too much, but there are other essays and things I wrote where I would. Almighty Tesla doesn’t have these 16 years of context for consideration. My 16 years of writing development involved many stumbling blocks. I would say that success is a matter of repeatedly failing. When I find other 16-year-old essays and things that might be cringeworthy, will I publish them as proudly as I did for References? Maybe not. I have that choice.
This album is an example of Almighty Telsa working forward in his life, while I’m working back in terms of publishing these sorts of “drafts.” You’re reading my writing with my years of experience. When I was around his age, I didn’t have the opportunities that he has. Although I’m working within a different medium, no one was out there providing any criticism to me in any sort. Even now, it’s hard asking someone to read my first novel, A Story About Self-Confidence: What’s In A Name?, only because although I am proud of having written it, I am still not confident enough in myself to force it on others. Almighty Telsa has it easier because novels take substantially longer to meander through than music and I can write while listening to this album.
This album continues to remind me of that summer between high school and college because I spent the majority of that time writing or thinking about writing. I wonder, how much time did he spend making music or thinking about making music? It’s easy for me to compare here, because my efforts were not problematic, whereas this album has substantial issues with its lyrical contents that don’t allow one to give it the benefit of the doubt. Still, there were things that were problematic about the 18-year-old Zombiepaper, as there still are while I’m writing this as a 34-year-old Zombiepaper, as there will be in the last sentences I write before I die, but as we advance in years of experience with our crafts, we learn more about what works and what doesn’t within our scope of making media. For example, I will sometimes find typos or grammatical issues in some of my 2020 Album Review Game written meandries here, despite having published over two million words, between my first novel and other writing. That 2-million-word number excludes anything I’ve written on Rate Your Music – I took down or made private some of my own more cringeworthy reviews, but I’m sure you can find them. No one is perfect, even Almighty Tesla despite I’m sure his own opinion, and the act of improving one’s craft is the act of refining a product that can be sold to consumers. I don’t put much effort into writing these music meandries because compared to writing a novel or some essays, I write these quickly to warm-up my writing thoughts. I don’t write serious critical analysis often because that’s tricky to get right and my perspective is acceptable enough to have a place here among reviewers I respect for their thoughtful considerations. My hands-off perspective does allow me to look at this album less from its poor technical quality and more from a personal perspective. What is the intention? Almighty Tesla wants to make it in this world, but if he continues making albums like this, he will not succeed.
This album, despite the negativity we can all give it, does one thing right. Almighty Tesla fulfilled the requirement that many other people that make media, whether novels or albums, fail to do: he finished it and released it. We laugh at it because he did this through pure hubris and there is nothing to justify this hubris. We can look more charitably at others because we can see that they are earnestly trying to accept feedback as part of their process of becoming naturally independent. The “hubris” problem becomes clear with Almighty Tesla’s lyrics. He doesn’t want to accept criticism, so, although he wants to become independent, he doesn’t want to learn from others. The problem there is that he will never truly become independent, because he’ll always be worried about other people’s opinions, no matter how many times he says, “I don’t give a fuck.” Learning from people like me who are willing to dig in and give him polite advice or from the less polite public will help him become truly independent. I assume he wants success. I’ll define that as getting to a point where he can release the music that he wants to release to a group of fans that will pay him enough money so he can comfortably further his ambitions of making more music or doing whatever it is that he wants to do with his life.
This album makes me want to ask Almighty Tesla: Why should we give you the charity of constructive criticism if you don’t want it? Why should we help you succeed if all you want to do is flaunt your delusional version of your reality that you’ve built up for himself? Why should we give you a life you have not deserved? You are the victim if we criticize you. Well, I’ll give you the answer despite you not wanting or deserving it. You are a glass cannon. This is cringeworthy for us to observe as people that listen to your music, but, hey, I can empathize with that. So, while I wish him well enough to work harder on a better second album, I know he doesn’t care about my opinions because they don’t arrive with praise and dollar signs.
This album is probably going to be a punching bag that everyone on this website will use to get a laugh. As a word to these people, if you meander through this album, you’ll find an album where the production quality isn’t mixed well, where sometimes his rapping is drowned out by the beats, other times the reverse, and although I’m not focusing much on the lyrics, when I do, they’re not good. They’re problematic and amateurish. His flow isn’t practiced. If there is anything about this album that warrants any degree of merit, it would be “Downfall of Racism,” and that’s only because Almighty Tesla actually does the impossible for him by removing the focus on his ego and comments on current events – racism, Black Lives Matter, and the murder of George Floyd. Other than that, and maybe some points on “Fallen Soldiers (Outro),” this album does nothing other than show Almighty Tesla build himself up at the expense of everyone else in this world. With all of this context in mind, if you feel like you want to take on the challenge to help this young man better himself to better the world, maybe because you feel like he has some potential, then I’m sure he might secretly appreciate it.
This album, ultimately, contradicts his mission statement that he wrote for his Spotify profile: “Almighty Tesla is persistent on making his mark in the world not only in the tech space, but in the music world as well. Changing our world is something this young man is truly serious about.” With everything I’ve written above, I ask one final question to Almighty Tesla, to myself, and to anyone reading this: how can someone change the world without attempting to understand it?
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: It’s frustrating feeling less physically capable than two days ago.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 September 30 [6:15pm to ” subside as I distract myself” at 6:29pm; 6:57pm to 7:16pm]
Last Edited: 2020 September 30 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.