Our Words Fail Us, and We Fail Each Other

“War is what happens when language fails.”

— Margaret Atwood

We all fight with someone, even the people we love the most. We fought all the time, nearly daily for some, but it’s rare we reach for physical violence to get our point across. It is common to reach for emotional savagery at the slightest threat to our self-image, our way of thinking, or our sense of control. Real or perceived we are quick to hate, to degrade, and to cut off people around us for the smallest transgression because we have lost the ability to really tell one another how we feel, and to really listen to the feelings of another.

We’ve all utilized violence at some point on siblings or schoolmates. Some have hit their children or had to fight a stranger. Worse are those who have struck a spouse, a parent, an animal. I’ve seen it all and done my fair share too. I have been hurt and hurt others. I have had my sense of safety taken away, and I have felt pride in taking it from others. But I hate that version of me that was so stupid and so weak as to think there was any reason to feel pride in such brutality. I hope to never act so brutish again unless I have to use force to save my life or the life of someone I know.

I’ve come to see violence as something to only be used as a last resort and only when violence is first used on me. I now believe that there is no end to the ways a conflict can be resolved as long as both parties want to. Growth has made me sensitive to the ways I see communication break down around me and the way people have come to see physical violence as the second step after verbal violence is utilized as the first.

Violence is an instinct. Little kids do it and have to be taught not to do it. It is also a learned behavior too. The more they see other people doing it, the more we do it, of course, but I’ve seen babies not yet walking and not yet witness to assault hitting and throwing things out of frustration when they feel their needs have not adequately been communicated.

I work with children in a space that isn’t home and isn’t school, and in this place, they are a little freer, a little more themselves, for good and for ill. I find that at any slight correction, challenge, or frustration they fail to communicate their feelings and instead head right for violence, first verbal and then physical.

I have to slow them down. I work hard to teach them that there are other things to try first. I tell them they can talk to me, tell me how they feel, and I will never punish them for that. I do it because I understand they are being raised the same way I was, to believe that any show of emotion or expression of need is a sign of disrespect. Their feelings are being forced in, and their ability to communicate is decaying from non-use.

As a result, they have no idea how to simply say they are unhappy, that they don’t understand, that they are frustrated or hurt, or to ask for space or time to process what is happening around or inside themselves. They don’t know how to say what they need, and they have no desire to hear what other people need either.

They only know what they have been taught— that respect and understanding come after you have forced it from someone. They have been taught that there is only one right and one wrong and that the one who is right is the one who hits harder.

As we get older, we gain some control, or at least we learn who we can’t hit and who we can. We still don’t know how to talk, and we still don’t know how to understand though.

That’s not to say we are all violent people. No one wants to start there. No one wants to yell, humiliate, or hurt, we do it when we feel we have no other choice and that place is different for us all but none of us have the strength or patience we might have if we’d worked at communication or seen proper examples of it. All of us has given up on someone, some of us have given up on whole groups of people we will never meet because we are convinced that they are incapable of understanding us and us, them.

But there is always a point, and there is always a way, it’s just hard to do, that’s all. Language is a poor way to describe all the complexity and shades of meaning and feeling that exist inside of a human being, but as long as we are each trapped inside of our own perspective and consciousness, barred from the minds of one another, we have to use what we have, our words.

To listen is exhausting. It takes a lot of energy, emotional and intellectual, to hold your own mind back, to trust enough to let your defense down and listen to another. It’s even harder to be vulnerable and ask someone to expend such energy on you. We try once, twice, and the third time we’re done not seeing that the first time we sounded frustrated, the second time we yelled, and the third we used insults and threats. There was never real communication. I see this every day.

No one learns how to communicate rigorously.

No one learns to consider that they are wrong.

No one believes there is honor or pride in giving time and consideration to needs, ideas, or ways of living of others.

The effect is worse in groups and worst of all in nations. Too often violence can seem like the only course of action to take, not last but at all. We work ourselves into a frenzy declaring that our way of life our thinking or land must be defended at all costs. We are right, and they are wrong, and words will do nothing. There is nothing to say to “those people,” they wouldn’t understand if we tried and we will not allow ourselves to be infected, manipulated, deterred, or distracted from our aim. EQUALITY, FREEDOM, JUSTICE, PEACE! Worthy causes to die for, but to kill for?

Maybe. I won’t say I believe that there is no place for violence. Sure, there are wars worth fighting. There are people who can only be saved if someone else was to die, but I don’t see those kinds of wars being fought. What I see when I watch the news is wars being fought that might be solved with listening and an exchange of ideas and empathy, and I see wars not being fought where genocide, mass rape, and the exploitation of children has been taking place for generations.

What I see is nations acting like people, fighting for respect and control and not for equality, freedom, justice, and peace.

What I see is here at home a divide furthering between ideologies because talking is exhausting and listening is just too hard. I see people who are sure they are right, that there is no other way to see it, and that communication is no road to resolution. I see tension building and a canyon-sized divide between the purity of each sides way of seeing the world. No one is willing to build a bridge. The bridge builders of the past are disillusioned, and the would-be builders can only see what the other side won’t do.

So, violence is quickly becoming all that is left because we’ve not built the strength nor the desire to keep trying, again, and again, and again.

We’ve not been raised to believe that people can come around by words alone. We’ve not been raised to believe there is a middle ground in that canyon separating us from one another. We’ve not been raised to understand that people are mysterious and complex and in need of love and understanding the same as us. We have not been raised to see each other as equals only as beings to dominate, manipulate, and use for our own emotional ends. We’ve not been taught that words will get us what we need.

The average person isn’t out there beating people up and humiliating them, but we are internalizing and perpetuating the same way of looking at the world and thinking about one another that leads to violence on more massive scales. We are protecting and excusing the violence that breaks out on individual levels seeing it through our own upbringing and justifying the pettiest reasons.

I just want to see us all try another way and try a little harder.

Try being patient. Try being quiet. Try being open, sympathetic, and kind.

Work the muscles in the mind that express and understand. Learn how to use your words and learn the meaning of words that other people use. Consider that you might be a little wrong and that the people you have written off might be a little right. Not just the people you know, but people half a world away too. Think about what war is and what it’s cost is worth. Teach your kids to do the same and teach your loved ones through their interaction with you. Take the time communicate. I promise it is no waste.

I’m talking to all of you, myself included. I am talking to all sides of the issue those who have never listened and those who have tried listening so much they’ve given up hope that it works. I’m talking to you.

I’m talking to us here and now and to everyone in the future because if we don’t learn to sharpen and strengthen language, make it better and make it work nothing will change.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured photo is by Georgia National Guard from United States [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Advertisements

It Begins by Seeing Each Other as People

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

— Gwendolyn Brooks

We live side by side. We go to work together, shop together, sit next to each other in movie theaters and walk past each other on the street, and we don’t see each other at all. We don’t know a thing about our neighbors or the people living in the same spaces as us. We won’t look the cashier in the eye. We don’t have the patience for other drivers on the road. We don’t care about our coworkers weekend, even if we ask. We don’t want to help. We don’t want to hear it. Hell is other people, right?

And that’s just the people we see day-to-day. Then we get online, on Twitter, on Facebook, on our blogs where people are even people anymore. We jump into the comment sections under YouTube videos and articles on our preferred news and opinion sites. We turn on the TV and see nothing but violence and feel fear.

Soon other people aren’t even people anymore. They are obstacles and annoyances. They are different and dangerous. They are the other side, the enemy. They think differently than us, they feel differently than us and anyone who is different from us doesn’t matter. They are wrong. They aren’t worth the time.

Indifference grows to hate, and people never run out of reasons to hate. They hate people because they’re brown, because they’re femme, or because they’re queer, or disabled, or transgender, or Muslim, or poor. They hate people who look different, think different, worship different. Eventually, the hated ones grow bitter, and they hurl hate right back in return. The hate mixes with fear, and they fight, some with fists and guns, some wielding the law.

I’m angry, and I am full of hate too. It grows every time I turn on the news, and I’m tired of it. But as angry as I am, as scared as I am, and as much as I want to shut out half of the world, and as many solid reasons as I know I have to do so, I’m not convinced it’s the right way. I’m not sure that isolating myself from the people who I don’t like, that I don’t agree with, that I don’t want to acknowledge, dignify, or give space to will make the world a better place. I’m not sure that going on hating all those people will change them.

I know what they think of me, and convincing them otherwise is close to impossible, but every so often one is converted, and it happens more and more every day. It’s my job not to just stand up to them, but to convince them, help them, educate them.

To open yourself up this way is exhausting, I know. To have to explain yourself your needs and to in turn give space in your life for such hate to be lobbed back at you hurts. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not for anyone all the time. We have to take turns. We can retreat to safe spaces as needed, but we can’t stay there forever. We have to find a way to work it out no matter how hurt and angry we are because if we don’t both halves of humanity will go on fighting and living this double existence side by side and nothing will ever get better, and no one will learn anything.

But is that so bad? Is it really your job to care what people who hate you or are ignorant of your perspective think? Is it your job to educate them or drag them kicking and screaming toward compassion and cooperation? No, of course, it isn’t. Giving them space in your life is a purely personal decision but I think it might be the best thing to do if we want to make the world better. We are all we have, and I think it’s important we all care about each other, whether we agree or not. That doesn’t mean I accept your thinking, or that I will compromise my values. I can fight for whats right and still let you know I care about you. So, it’s not your job, but it is your problem. It’s all our problem to solve.

And solving it begins with seeing each other as people.

Both sides have to begin by understanding that we are all much more alike than we are different and nothing that any human feels or believes is beyond another human’s understanding. It takes stepping into the shoes of another and imagining their whole life had been your own. You may think and believe the same that they do now, and if you did, would the way you isolate and shame them make you change your view if you were them? I doubt it.

To think we can go on making progress with the world split and going for one another throats every day is delusional. The reality is someone is going to have to find a way to take the first step and the longer we tell ourselves that to do so is to compromise your integrity the further we drift from each other and the harder it will be to reconcile, but it will have to be done one day. We are going to have to care. We are going to have to stop seeing each other as the enemy.

We are going to have to start seeing each other.

We are one country, and one world, and in this vast, cold cosmos all we have is one another. Each of us is precious, even those among us who we disagree with. Even those we find ignorant and stubborn and who put themselves at the center of the world to the exclusion of all the rest, even they are rare and precious. Like Carl Sagan said “If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” So, yeah it should matter to you who hs healthcare. It should matter to you who has food, who has a job, who has a home, and who doesn’t. It should matter to you why people feel the way they do, hurt the way they do, and fight for the things they fight for. It is your problem too!

Your fellow human beings, whether you like them or not, agree with them or not, understand them or not, they are your responsibility.  We have to learn to get along sometime, so let’s try a little harder today, and a little harder the day after that. No matter your race, your class, your nationality, immigrant status, gender, sex, or sexuality, no matter how you were raised or what you believe, start by seeing each other as people.

Start by seeing each other at all.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image is by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

Show Me How You Move Your Mountain

“You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.”

— Anonymous

Lately, my life has become a series of things I have to overcome. I feel like no matter what I am doing, every action, big and small, ends in failure and embarrassment. A step in any direction just moves me closer to something I am afraid of, something I don’t know how to do, something that hurts.

I’m trying hard to grow, but I feel stuck, caught, blocked. There is something in my way. My past and my future loom enormous above me, and I already feel too tired to begin. I feel angry that such an obstacle has been placed in front of me in the first place. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. It’s too much!

My mountain is made of all the love I didn’t get, and the hole that love can never fill now. It’s made of my driving phobia, and my social insecurities, and my death anxiety. My mountain is made of the strength I have to find, somehow, somewhere, to get help for it all. My mountain is made of the ways I failed my partner and the ways I make her happy that I can’t see no matter how much she tells me. My mountain is made of all the things I wish I could do for everyone I love and the realization I need to come to that help is a form of control and minding your own business is a virtue. My mountain is my passion for writing and the gap between my passion and my talent.

My mountain feels impossible to move, and there seems so little time. What is most important? Where do I begin? How do I  even start? Where will I find the strength, the wisdom, the help, since I know I can never do it all on my own?

We all have a mountain I suppose, made of all our pain and potential. It is made of everything you have been through It is made of all the things that make it hard for you to live, for each of us it is different. Most of it is our childhoods, some of it is death. Part of it is all the shit we do to ourselves personally, publically, collectively, and the rest is all your own bullshit you refuse to see. You made this mountain, we all did, and now you have to move it. Well, you don’t have to. You can ignore it, sure, but what will you do instead? What is life for if not to bring that monster down, to make a wreckage of your past and pain?

So you face it. One rocky side rises before you, a beautiful mound of hard shit, sacrifice, and suffering all your own. It rises so high you can’t make out its peak from this side of the clouds. You are small before it. Its size will humble you but don’t let it intimidate you. You can get over it, rock by rock. It will be hard but a mountaineer you have become and all you see is an adventure, a challenge, and a victory. You will own yourself, or be owned. But you know that it’s better to die than to live a life that isn’t your own so you will conquer it, or you will die trying.

There is no magic advice. Nothing moves it faster, nothing makes it easier. You just have to get shoveling. It must be moved to make room, for what, I don’t know. I only know it must be brought down. There are more mountains after yours, ones of hate, and ignorance, and pain and all must be leveled, blasted to rubble and a way made through for the next person. There is always more work, more to get over, and progress always to be made, but each of us gets only one mountain to move. If you can move yours, the next person won’t have to. They will see what great things you have accomplished and attack the next with confidence and fervor. They will know that the impossible can be done.

But first, this mountain is yours, and time enough or no, wisdom, strength, and help or no, you have to move it. No one can do it for you. No one knows how to do it but you. Moving your mountain makes something significant of your life. That pile of shame and suffering is a mountain of meaning. It’s a living moving breathing thing. It is you. You simply have to move…yourself.

You have been assigned this body, this mind, this experience, to show us how a person can be moved and an experience can be made to mean something.

Thinking about it this way helps. This quote jumped out at me yesterday and a light switch was flipped, and I saw something. That is what I have forgotten. I am not the only one who has been through what I have, and none of us has experienced anything new, we’ve only been given a new way of looking at it, and overcoming it. My job is to get through it, and heal from it, and share how I’ve done it so the next one can do the same. Then they will share how they have endured and healed too, and so on.

So, go move your mountain. Show us it can be done. Show the next one to stand below such a harsh existence that rock by rock can bring the whole thing down.

***

Thank you for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Photo by mohammad alizade on Unsplash

Remember What the Work is For

Hello, and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is a reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“I want to read and write and be very quiet.”

— Martha Gellhorn

Sometimes I forget what I am supposed to be working toward. I forget that it’s not the accomplishments or acknowledgments, those are simply a means to and end. The end is the life I dream of, a life where I can be free of societies norms and other people’s expectation.

My dream is to live a life where I am surrounded by ideas, with plenty of time to think them over and through, and then send them back out into the world with a little of myself in each one. My dream is to live a life of reading, writing, and quiet.

Sometimes I get caught up in reading all the marketing and productivity blogs and trying to do what they do. Sometimes I get caught up in networking and social media and blogging and promotion and hashtags and groups and fan pages and the photos and it never seems to be enough. I feel like I spend all my time doing a whole lot of things that at the end of the day don’t feel anything like what I wanted to be doing with my life.

What is it all for if I never feel happy? What is it all for when it’s all about other people and their posts and their pictures and whether or not they will please follow me or like this or share this? When is it about me? When does it start to feel good and right and meaningful? When do I stop chasing the means and finally get to the end?

I think the time is now. Or maybe, some of the time is now.

This week, I’m going to carve out time that is for living the life I want to live now. My wants aren’t too complicated or costly. I just want time to learn and think and share there is no reason I cannot have that today. There is no reason why any one of us can’t carve out just a little bit of our future dream and bring back here to the present reality.

This week, live a little of the life you always wanted to. Plan a small trip, take a small step, pretend you already are where you always wanted to be. Do it because tomorrow is never promised and you don’t want to spend what little life you have chasing a dream you might never get to see made real. Do it because you deserve a little of that happiness now dammit!

Of course, reality will fly back in and remind you that you need to be creating, selling, sharing, and marketing. It will remind you to get up early, post to this timeline or that, set your SMART goals, build good habits, and make progress every day, but never forget what it is all for.

It’s all so that you can be who you want to be and live the way you want to live, one day, some day, and for a little while, this day.

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? 

Featured image via Unsplash

We Know Not What We Do, I Hope

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.”

— Mary Wollstonecraft

I’ve been having a really hard time coping with the state of the people and politics here in the United State since the election. There are many of you, and many people I know in real life, who would tell me it’s long past time to get over it, but every morning I watch the news, I scroll my feeds and timelines, and I get progressively more afraid, more cynical, and more depressed.

It feels like there are so many people who want to hurt the poor, the lost, and the vulnerable. They want to hurt our environment. They want to hurt people who look and live differently from they way they look and live. They want to line their pockets and laugh while the world burns. I am convinced, but what I can’t understand is why.

I hear two voices shouting out at me through opinion pieces and blogs. One says not to listen to them, not to give them one moment’s consideration. They are the enemy and they must be guarded against at all costs. The other says to understand them. See the world their way. They are afraid, they are ignorant, listen and reassure them. They only need time and love to come around.

My heart likes the sound of the latter, but my anger tells me I am stupid and pushes the former course.

I’m highly suspicious of any calls to understand, and appeal to, people who refuse to understand or appeal to the needs of those less fortunate than them.

What I mean is, if you are angry because full equality under the law and fair and respectful treatment for immigrants, Muslims, women, and the LGBTQ+ community has become an important issue in American politics, I think the last thing we should be doing is giving you more time to explain why people who have suffered and fought for so long should slow down, take a back seat, and give you the floor. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

I am weary of anyone who says you can’t eat, you can’t feel warm, secure, and safe because they need more. There are real consequences for people when you won’t let go of your ego or a small amount of your money. When people say they need something, they need it. End of story.

But as weary as I am, as much as I don’t want to spend my time understanding and coddling, there is part of me that longs to understand and the only thing that makes sense is that people just don’t know any better. They can’t help themselves. They really think they are doing what is right.

We have so much privilege we have become so blind to it. We spend more time protecting our luxuries than we do protecting human life and dignity. We are all guilty of it. Some more than others, but every day more and more sees the light. There is hope, I hope.

I recognize that may be a lie I am telling myself too. Maybe part of me just wants to, has to, believe that the world isn’t that cruel. People can’t be evil for evil sake. Even if the universe doesn’t care and there is no rhyme or reason to any of this, we have to have reasons right? We have to, deep down, want to do what’s best, for love, for our families, for our country and our sense of right and wrong. Right?

So, this week, I’m exploring what lies are worth telling myself. What leaps of faith are worth taking. What aspects of human nature are not worth looking too closely at.

My instincts tell me none. My instincts tell me wherever humans are involved things are always complicated, and there are never easy answers. There is always a spectrum and it is rare we fall to one side or the other fully. People aren’t all bad, but they aren’t all good either. People’s intentions must follow the same patterns I suppose.

So, this week I guess I am exploring what that means to me and in these times, where we are so divided, so angry, and so willing to turn a blind eye or let loose our rage, we should all explore what that means for us, about us. How do we find common ground? How do we listen and teach? How do we change hearts? How do we do it without losing our own sense of right and wrong?

This week, ask yourself what are the value the value of rose-colored glasses and leaps of faith in humanity? Contemplate the motivations behind why we treat each other the way they do. Look within yourself and question how it makes you feel when another person says they need things that you cannot understand. In what ways do people who live differently from you make you afraid?

I want to know what evil lives in me and why I think it will lead to happiness. I want to know that about all people. I want to know how to fix it.

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

— Anne Frank

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? 

Featured image via Unsplash

To Be Cynical is to be Human

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.”

― Mike Royko

We are living in the age of positivity. We are living by the rule of mind over matter and the fight fight fight for hope and optimism. We are walking around smiling, hoping, and telling ourselves and everyone we know that it’s all going to be all right, and it’s exhausting.

Yeah, it’s nice to always be positive. I am always trying to be positive too, but honestly, expecting to live a life where you wake up every day full of optimism is not going to end in anything but disappointment. You can’t do it every day.

It’s good to see the best in people, and it’s good not to be blind to the worst. It’s good to know you can make a difference and it’s ok to be exhausted and infuriated by how hard it is. It’s ok to see all the pain of the past and worry that we’ll go on repeating ourselves into the future. It’s ok to have a less than perfect view of our future, and it’s ok to feel overwhelmed and discouraged too.

And yeah, it’s nice to want to change the world for the better every day. I want to do that too but honestly, sometimes I want to step back and just worry about myself for a while too. Expecting to give yourself day in and day out to other people without ever wanting to give up or give in lead directly to exhaustion and disappointment too.

The fact is, no person can sustain one emotion or one way of feeling or expressing themselves forever. We do our best to keep to the middle when we can but often before we can recognize it, let alone stop it, we are swinging wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other. This is normal. This is okay. Being positive all the time sounds nice, but that does not mean it is the best way or the healthiest way to live. It might not be the right way for most people. And that is okay.

We all want to believe the best of the world, and every day so many of us are fighting to make the belief into a reality, but sometimes we have to take a break. Sometimes we just have to be real with ourselves. The world is shitty, people are shitty, and the whole damn system is set up so that you have to work so damn hard just to feel like you aren’t going to your grave feeling useless and forgotten. It’s a hard life. It’s unfair, and it hurts, and no amount of positivity changes that for everyone. I might not even change it for you.

Here at Zen and Pi, I advocate for feeling the full spectrum of human emotion in ways that are heathy for each individual. That means sometimes being angry, sad, and yes, even cynical. Sometimes, because we are human, no matter how hard we try we want to feel bad, and we want to express that too. Sometimes we are mean, or indifferent, or unforgiving. Sometimes we just can’t be the bigger person. It’s understandable! We are hopelessly flawed. It’s okay!

They say cynics can’t learn, can’t grow, can’t change or help anything or anyone, and maybe that is true, but the perpetually positive are just as blind and stunted if you ask me. Each one lives with only half the story, half the human experience. Each condemns the other, and both are fools.

To be human is to hope, and to be human is to be hopeless too. Both stem from having an accurate view of the world and the people inhabiting it.

So, this week, if you can’t always smile, say nice things, pay it forward, or let it all slide, it’s ok. Do your best and fuck the rest, you know?

I know I’ve had a pretty hard time keeping my chin up, putting one foot in front of the other, and smiling while the world seems to be burning all around me. There is so much going wrong in the world, and there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot we can do about it right now. Some days I’m pissed! I’m disappointed! I’m fucking tired! And I’m going to be, off and on, forever because that’s what people do.

So, I’m buckling in and turning on my frown y’all. I may have to sit through this, but I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to be chipper, and I do not have to start every morning with telling myself that it’s all down to my attitude because sometimes that is nothing but a dirty lie and here at Zen and Pi we do not lie to ourselves.

I’m not saying give up hope. I’m not saying give up the fight. I’m not saying happiness is impossible or that real change will never happen. I’m just saying it’s ok to let your cynical flag fly because the world is a shitty place sometimes and being a human is hard. It’s ok to be less than enthusiastic about society and human potential at the moment. We are all disappointed, still, and we will be for a long time. Let it out. Express it, share it, and don’t feel bad or apologize for it.

Give yourself permission to be a Negative Nancy if you need to until you don’t need to. Don’t let the world tell you how to feel about whatever you are going through. Don’t let the world tell you that suppressing or denying emotions they deem unnecessary, or “wrong” is in your best interest. Just feel, and be real, that’s all I’m asking.

Fight when you can, smile when you can, and step back and curse it all when you want to too.

It’s all human, and it’s all right.

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for important weekly reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering (:

Featured image via Unsplash

Anxiety into Art

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

This Monday is a hard one, I won’t lie. I spent a portion of the weekend in the doctor’s office afraid and in pain. I am okay now, mostly. My symptoms are still here, but I got the reassurance I was seeking. I will be fine for now. I came away with information and medication and a whole lot to think about. I’m feeling just a little better today, but I am on edge, wondering when it will get bad again.

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity”

― T.S. Eliot

My anxiety, as a result of all these health issues, has been uncontrollable. I worry about my body. I worry about medication. I worry about what I am eating. Food has become my enemy, and every meal is stressful. I worry about how I am impacting others and what people think of me. I worry about work and how I can cope away from home.

Breathing isn’t working. I am losing sleep, and I feel myself becoming isolated. In just a few weeks I have stopped writing almost entirely because I am either too tired or worrying so much I can’t focus. I miss writing, even just for myself. I want to do something I love again.

So why can’t I use this pain and anxiety for writing, for art? I can’t breathe or meditate my way out, maybe I need the opposite. Maybe I need something that requires more effort. Maybe I need to pull my pain out by hand. Maybe I need to dig deep in the dark and work for my relief.

Maybe I need to fight for it.

I don’t know exactly what form this writing will take or where it will go, but I think it’s just what I need. It feels right to hurt through writing and sharing rather than all alone and in my own head.

This week, if you’ve been feeling anxious, afraid, angry, or alone, pull that pain out and make something of it. Push, push, push yourself to move forward until you feel better or you collapse in exhaustion. Then get back up when you can and make something more. Write, paint, and sing all about what hurt and don’t worry about what people will think or what it all means. Just express yourself.

Take what you hate about yourself, what you work so hard to control, and let if fuel your creativity. If nothing else it will at least be a change of pace and offer some distraction.

You might even be able to work magic, do the impossible, and turn hurt into hope and joy.

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter on life, love, and suffering (:

Featured image via Unsplash