where elements meet

I went to Venice Beach with a pad and a pen, and a singular purpose: to write…something. I had no idea what I wanted to write…perhaps I wanted my own small Walden. I went, I stood, and I wrote what came to me. There’s no real point to it other than writing for the sake of writing.

At the edge of the world, two of the fundamental elements collide in a never ending struggle. The ocean crashes onto the soft granular bulwark of the beach, eating away at it with each rolling wave. The earth draws the overreaching waters down into itself, recovering what was taken and reinforcing itself against the impending assault. Neither side able to press advantage and turn the tide (if you’ll pardon the phrase) in its favor.

Here I stand, at the edge of existence,
Firmly rooted in soft, yet stable earth,
Watching as the waves grow with persistence,
Roaring in with inimitable mirth.

This is nothing new. For longer than history, the waves have crashed against the shores. I suppose, in the bigger picture, there are more examples of aquatic victories than those of the earth, but these are the battles not of decades or even generations, but of eons and eras. They share commonalities, water and earth…they both support life, and both contain oxygen in their respective molecular makeups. They share commonalities with each other, but neither can truly ever be the other.

The world of water and the world of earth are intrinsically different.

As it is with water and earth, so it is with people. We share many commonalities with each other, but our collective experience can never be truly duplicated in another. We are each the product of our own unique existence.

I will never see the world as you do;
We may never see eye to eye.
I may never understand what drives you,
But it costs me nothing to stop and try.

Water and earth are what they are; they can not choose to be or not to be. People are blessed (and cursed) with self awareness, and with it, the ability to understand.

It is a choice unique to us. Why should we not take advantage of it? I suppose it was best said by a pair of time traveling philosophers…

In the words of Ted Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq.:

Be excellent to each other.

[future edit: little did I know, but I was touching on an idea I would learn about a year and a half or so later in grad school: existential isolation.]

failing to follow through

For the less perceptive among you, it has been over a year since I last submitted my words for your eyeballs. Fun fact: it took nearly a year for the aforementioned previous submission itself to appear before you. Having said that, take a moment to appreciate the title of this particular submission; go ahead, I’ll wait a tic for the point to sink in.

Though I hardly think it necessary, I do feel that saying it outright is going to be conducive to my thought process as I type: I have always had (and will likely continue to have, to certain degrees) a problem following through with a great deal of things. I have fleeting ideas that I take initial steps to realize, but over time, these ideas (and the efforts I have put into realizing them) fall by the wayside, and slowly fade away. I wouldn’t say that I’m unreliable, I just either fall into this sort of ennui or my aforementioned social anxiety kicks in about most of my goals which result in their inevitable failure. They go out not with a bang, but with a prolonged whimper (sorry for the paraphrasing there, T.S.).

My mind is positively alight with examples, but I think I’ll narrow it down to one of my more recent shortcomings. I made a resolution at the start of this year, you know. I was going to put in a conscious effort to community with my friends and family on a regular basis. I bet you can imagine how that worked out, hm? Think back and count the number of times I’ve chatted with you this year, be it via call, text, IM, Facebook comment, email, smoke signal, Morse code, or any other method of communication you can imagine. Having a hard time coming up with a non-pathetic number, right?


Now, the most important part: why? This is not directed at the specific example of communication, but at the habit itself. Why does this pattern exist? Why, when I am obviously aware of it, do I not change it? If I knew, then perhaps I could. I have a feeling that it may have to do with my self-esteem issues. I don’t think I’ll be ultimately successful in any of my efforts, so the motivation to see them through to the end is non-existent. If that’s the case, all I need to do to ensure that I follow through is…solve my crippling lack of self-esteem (future edit: oh god this old stuff is hard to read sometimes).

Let’s see if I follow through on that.

[edit fRoM tHE fUTuRe!: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha my dissertation.]

i was an internet punk rock rebel

Back in the early days of the Bush administration, I found myself awakening to the political climate of the United States. Disenfranchised by the system, and burning for change, I helped start a group of revolutionaries on mIRC (future edit: my exposure to the Internet started in the late 80s/early 90s with mIRC; it is essentially what Discord is today, but arguably WAY COOLER), full of punk rock rebels. Eventually, this lead to a website where we were going to publish our dissertations on the status of the world and our inflammatory calls to arms for change and justice. We called it Punks With Pencils, and it has been offline for over half a decade. I present to you one of the essays I submitted (the rest being lost to the ravages of time and carelessness):

We are the agents of change. It is up to humanity, regardless of social standing or class, to rise up, united, against the oppressors, the hypocrites, the cowards, and the corrupt. It is impossible to live in utmost comfort and opulence, and expect change to occur. Materialistic desires and temptations serve only to hold back the flood waters of change. Break the dam! It might mean sacrificing your comfort, your social status, or the things most dear to you; but consider the alternative. Would you rather live in financial corpulence and social apathy, only passing on the world’s problems to the next generation? Or would you rather stand up today and fight for change. It is difficult. It is difficult to practice restraint and self control when faced with the materialist attitude of a foolhardy world. Make the sacrifice! Stand strong against the raging storm of inequality and destructiveness! If enough people shook off the yoke of this subtle oppression, there would be change.

Take it upon yourselves to be the ones who bring about the much needed change in this world. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

It’s funny how people get so caught up in their own lives that they fail to comprehend what’s really going on around them. It’s easier to be blind to the state of things; to be too weak to see reality as it is, rather than what we want it to be. There are words that can be used to describe the current state of humanity: Irresponsible, Apathetic, Selfish. Hypocrisy runs rampant across the world; from the lowest beggar to the highest political figure. Lies and personal agendas fill the hearts and minds of the majority of humanity; from the gas station clerk down the street to the leaders of the world. Children are being born into an increasingly corrupt and selfish society; a society more concerned with its own financial corpulence than with the well-being of the human race. Free will has become a myth; a fairy tale from days far gone. The world is slowly destroying itself; imploding into itself like a black hole. And what reaction, you may ask, does this elicit from those living within this barrage of self-destructive narcissim? No reaction whatsoever.

I remember being quite proud of it at the time, filled as it was with rhetoric, hyperbole, and righteous anger. Strong statements! Long, winding cries for help in a world gone utterly mad! STRONG STATEMENTS! I find myself now, nearing the completion of my 30th year of life on this mudball we call home, looking more like a part of the problem than I would like to be. I have settled for the world, and have felt my fire diminish. But as I think about that sentence, I find it to be untrue. I still feel the fire within me when faced with the injustices of this world. I still feel the rage at corruption and hypocrisy in our culture and political system. I simply have other responsibilities that I have to prioritize above revolution.

For now.

recognition of self

There are a lot of self-related issues that I have trouble with. Self-esteem, self-worth, self-image, and anything else you can come up with. To make it as clear as possible, I don’t really think much of myself. I allow every mistake I make and every criticism I receive to compound my problems, while I have difficulty accepting and assimilating any praise that is given me.

I used to joke incessantly about how smart I was, or how good I was at something, but they were just that: jokes. I know that some of you (depending on who is reading this) will know what I’m talking about. For example, I used to claim that the bigger your head was, the bigger your brain was. In reality, I was simply self-conscious about the size of my head.

The kicker is that these self-doubts are so deeply ingrained in me that I have no idea if they’ll ever go away. As much as I wish otherwise, for all I know, no amount of praise or proof will make me believe in my own capabilities. So now you know: I’m not genuinely saying I’m smarter or better, I’m just trying to throw my self-doubt into sharp relief. So, y’know, don’t take it personally or anything. I can’t help being charming, funny, and incredibly brilliant.

[Edit from the future! whoa! time travel! he did the thing!: I mean, yeah, but also this was a pretty low time in my life, so take my livejournaltumblrconfessionals with a grain of salt and a lot less oh look how uniquely tortured I am!]

social skills are for suckers

I don’t really remember a lot about my childhood. I don’t think I was really paying attention, to be honest. I don’t really remember too many life lessons from my parents regarding social skills, but like I said, I don’t remember a lot about my childhood. I’ll be working on the assumption that social skills took a backseat to education and life in general. However, to be fair, I chose to spend most of my childhood with my nose in a book, a controller in my hand, or a keyboard at my fingertips, so it can hardly be a surprise that I have the social acumen of a paperclip (excluding Microsoft’s Clippy, of course).

At the drop of a hat I can stand in front of a room and give a presentation or speech on a topic with which I am only slightly acquainted and exude a nigh unshakable air of confidence, because this is a matter of intelligence and knowledge, and I am confident in my intelligence and knowledge (though we’ll get into that topic more in a later entry). When it comes to talking to people in social settings, however, I fade into the background, hoping I won’t be noticed. This is not because I am uncomfortable with the other person/people, or because I am intimidated or afraid. This is also a matter of intelligence and knowledge. I simply do not know how to start, carry, or end a regular conversation. I don’t recall learning this as a child (an argument can be made that since I don’t remember learning it, I obviously didn’t), so my social development has been slightly hindered, and I am at a point in my personal development that it is difficult to imagine starting to learn now. When faced with this inability to do something so basic and supposedly simple as talking to another human being, I retreat into myself and wait for it to end.

So, if you have ever had the misfortune to find yourself with me in a social setting, I apologize for any misconceptions you may have had. I do not dislike you. I do not think you are boring or mundane. I am not trying to be rude, or insulting. I simply don’t know how to talk to you.