Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Honest Writing

I sometimes wonder if I am doing this correctly.
When I started this blog I do not suppose that I knew precisely what I intended to do with it - theological and political commentary, as I recall.  Perhaps once in a while a piece of useful information or two.

That was almost 9 years ago.

What this has turned into is none of those things - rather it has become a sort of online journal of my thoughts - and then some.  I grapple with this sometimes:  is this really what I meant to do?  Is this really what I should be doing?

Much as I would like to believe myself to be, I am not the most inspirational writer all the time.  Often I am depressed - in fact, I bet if I went and considered the tone of the titles of this blog I would find that more often than not I am writing from a place of frustration or sadness or depression rather than happiness.  Certainly if there was a real market for online writing (Let's be honest - most of us do it for free) this would probably not be the royal road to riches.

The question:  Is that wrong?

One thing I always try to do when I write is be honest - in my blog, in my books, in my journals (yes, I have journals.  They go back to 1999.  They probably make this look like optimism central).  What you see on this page is unrefined me in its raw, usually early morning form.  It is one reason that I have used a nom-de-guerre all of this years even though I bet the bulk of my regular readers, being family and friends, really know who I am (and it is more than once I have gotten a call from my father asking "So, read your blog. What is up?") - it allows me a level of anonymity to write these things and feel secure enough to write them.

But am I being honest enough?  Am I being myself enough?

This is the thought that is rattling around in my head this morning:  am I being honest enough?  Is my commitment to honesty through writing as sincere as it needs to be?  Am I being myself enough that I can be honest?  Or am I even now cloaking myself in phrases and allusions so that there is some level of safety while keeping deeper issues hidden away?

The great writers, the best ones, have a way of writing that makes truth real and apparent, no matter what vehicle they use.  Their honest selves bleed out from the paper through their characters and plots and settings and writing in a way that leaves the reader craving that sort of transparency and real living - honest living - for themselves.

How do I get there?  How do I write even more honestly?  How do I be even more of me?  It is not purely by putting other parts of my life on the paper - maybe the parts no-one needs to see - that makes me more honest - it is that unwavering commitment to take a thought and follow it no matter where it leads in myself and being willing to document what I find there in a way that is not voyeuristic or crass or pernicious or hurtful but in a way that makes the thought clean and straight and true.

In iaijustu the best cuts are the ones which are kept true to the angle of the cut and the hand placement is correct.  When you have done it correctly you know it by the mirror bright line of the katana and the shwoosh of the displaced air and feeling of your hands on the tsuba  and the fact that you have completely cut through the tatami mat as it falls away.  When you have made a true and honest cut, you always know it.

May that be true of my writing as well.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Just Drive

Sometimes there are mornings that I just want to get in the car and drive.

Nothing different than normal - get up, get ready, get in the car to drive to work - and then just keep going.

Where would I go with money in pocket and just driving?  Maybe back for a visit to Old Home.  The thought of driving across hours of empty landscape with just myself has a certain appeal to it right now.  Or maybe down to the coast - not so much for the water but just to sit on edge of the ocean and look out into the water and off into the horizon.

Why Drive?  There are just times where it feels like life - and the choices you have made in it - are simply overwhelming.  It is a form of information overload except that it is not just information.  It is sensation and emotion and a seemingly endless array of things that are crashing into your consciousness.  I assume that there are people that can deal with this sort of informational and sensational overload.  I cannot.

Driving (and because I commute I have done a lot of it in my time) allows me time to think and decompress in a way nothing else seems to.  Driving allows me to control the amount of input that I want: Music?  Conversation?  Or just the quiet hum of the car operating (I have been known to put earplugs in to dampen the sound of the car)?  I control it - based on the need I have at the moment.

And that need screams out to me now, every day.  To take a time away from the responsibilities, the needs, the demands, the wants, the confusion that seems to litter my mind and soul every day.

I need peace.  I need clarity.  I need the silence of the soul that allows life's demands to just fade away in the the long horizon of the road.

I need to drive.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Secret Longings

The discovery of one's secret longings is a disturbing thing.

Not the secret longings that we think we have, of course - the things that we convince ourselves of in our mind that are the things that we want.  No, it is the true secret longings - the things that we are acting as if they were actually important, the things that we consciously or subconsciously are trying to move our lives towards.

Do they always have to be considered disturbing?  I suppose that is a fair question - after all, what happens if one is moving their life a way that is improving themselves?  Is it disturbing to find out that one is trying to better one's self in a way that is good?  Perhaps - although I think that even in this case, the idea that our conscious mind is doing one thing and our unconscious mind is off doing something else would be a bit concerning: it destroys the myth that we are in charge of our thinking as much as we like to thing.

But what do you do about the other ones - the ones that you sudden realize are there, the ones that you suddenly realize are maybe not as healthy for you - and the one's that perhaps part of you is trying to move your life towards?  It is disturbing because it is as if you have been living an illusion within yourself, thinking you were advancing in one direction - but going in another.

And what do you do when you find them out?  Often they have been there so long and have becoming so ingrained into the fabric of your life that they are more like a dye than something applied to the surface that can be easily removed.

The issue is that once discovered, I think these things have to be dealt with one way or the other - because once the secret is no longer a secret to us, it is as if we are trying to live two identical lives within our singular life.  That will not work - it creates a dissonance where we are trying to do one thing and trying to do another thing, sometimes at odds to one another.  We spend a great deal of time fighting within ourselves, almost as if we were trying to serve two masters, both of whom demand that we address their needs first.

I wish I had a better conclusion to this issue, but I do not.  Writing this has been one of the hardest focus events I have had to do in a while - because this discovery to me is so new and I am not sure how to handle it.  I know this though:  once discovered, it must be addressed. A secret that is revealed is a secret no longer.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Lack of Belief in Long Term Success

I face two great problems in realizing success in any area of my life.  It has occurred to me that this problems are not any different than those who are successful face; it is just that they have resolved them.

1)  I have the inability to focus on a particular goal.  I have enough problems deciding on one, but once I have, I have greater problems bringing focus and intensity to the problem at hand.

2)  I lack the belief that I will be able actually achieve anything leading to long term success.

The second one is the one that qualifies as the epiphany, and perhaps the one that is more relevant - without believe that you will be able to succeed, the execution of any goal in pursuit of that success seems a waste of effort.

Where do this lack of confidence originate from?  Certainly I have demonstrated that I can accomplish any number of things, and I am sure that if I polled my friends they would not see this as something that was an issue.

Perhaps the issue is not so much that I can or cannot accomplish things, but that I cannot accomplish things that make a serious impact on my life and my future.

Example:  I (through the electronic grapevine) was made aware yesterday of a former coworker with whom I shared a similar title getting promoted.  In the same period of time (approximately 10 years) they have gone from manager to VP.  I have remained a manager.

Or the simple example of my current position where I have maintained the same title for 5 years while others have been promoted in far shorter periods of time.

Promotions come by many means of course, including effort.  My point is that if I look over my career life of the last 10 years and point to my advancement in the field, I find that it is none at all.  All the various efforts and initiatives went precisely no-where.  At some point one begins to despair of ever moving forward no matter what one does.

Now imagine this seemed true in every aspect of one's life.

What is the solution?  I can see it easily enough - believe that your efforts will pay off- but it is a very hard thing to believe at the moment.  I can point to that string of individual and isolated success; unfortunately they seem more like individual rocks standing on the edge of the sea shore rather than a peninsula over which I can cross over.

It brings up a fundamental question to which I find myself seeking the answer:  how does one change the very bedrock of one's belief from the concept that one cannot succeed to the belief that one can succeed?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Of Despair and Writing

Last night I despaired.

It was the whole day in coming.  It built on a work day where I was reminded how far I have not come in my career, at one point fighting with a binder that I needed to three hole punch papers in.  It was compounded when I got home and had dinner and then ate a little more than I should of.  It was added to by the fact that I have been running low on sleep almost since we returned from vacation.

I simply got to the end of dinner and did not have the energy or will to do anything.  Not the studying I had planned to do or the iaijutsu that I needed to do or the workout I wanted to do.  Nothing.  I just sat there missing energy and waiting.

Waiting for what?  Something other than despair about everything at that moment: feeling bad, feeling tire, no energy, nothing.  So in a fit of frustration, I wrote.

I have not written (as in writing for a book) since April and finishing my last texts.  Why?  I am not sure.  I certainly have something I could write about, but with my typical concern about the perfection of the work (I know it can be good) I have put off doing anything about it because (in my mind) no action is better than bad action.  And nothing else has really gotten my creative juices flowing.

So I wrote. It was not anything spectacular - unsurprisingly it was about a person facing despair (creative, no?).  But in the simple act of writing I found a certain relief to my condition.  The mere act of writing and creating gave me a sense of doing something, of taking action - something beyond the fact of what I was facing as I sat there with no energy.

I am trying to do others things better too - get more rest, eat a little better - but it appears I need to write more.  Writing is one activity that, even if I am reluctant to start it and do it badly, makes me feel better as I am doing it.  The creative process seems to tap something beneath my level of despair or depression or unhappiness or whatever it is I am struggling with at the moment and brings the associated sense of creation to the surface.

Today whispers to me that it has the possibility of being like yesterday - but this evening if I am faced with the situation again, I will fight back.

I will write.

Monday, July 21, 2014


A realization of weakness is never a very comforting thing.
I am weak - weak in ways that are numerous in number and defy description.  For all the ways that I like to believe that I am strong and can deal with or endure life, I am fractured with weakness - fractures that can occasionally threaten to tear apart my otherwise seemingly placid life.

The worst thing about such weaknesses is knowing that they are there, threatening to act when you least expect it (or need it), diverting your attention and sapping your energy.  There are days where I have to walk a very fine line between doing what needs to be done while not walking over the precipice into the yawning abyss.

Like what sort of weaknesses, you ask?

Always the rub, is it not?  People say that they suffer from weaknesses but scarcely willing to actually discuss them lest they reveal themselves in ways that are painful and embarrassing.  I do not know that I am any more willing than any other to reveal all of them - here is one, though:  food.

I like to eat.  I like to eat a lot.  Given the opportunity, I would routinely snack and overeat all day to the point that gluttony became more of a struggle than it already can be.  It is always there - especially when there are those comfort foods around that I love and something has caused the day to go awry: Frustrated?  Eat.  Depressed?  Eat.  Tired?  Eat.  Bored?  Eat.

I know it may not seem like much compared to what others go endure - and it may not be.  But now take that weakness and multiply it by 5 or 10 or more and this too often seems to be my life:  weaknesses, living in the fracture lines of my life, ready to rupture from any number of potential inputs or issues.

How does one solder together such weaknesses?  Is there such a thing as going an hour, a day, even a week without being constantly aware and fighting?  Or is this simply the human condition?