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2016 Retrospective and 2017: 希望

Well holy shit.  I just read through my 2015 recap and it was all kinds of hopeful.  Needless to say, 2016 was another shit year but in totally different ways.

Before I get started allow me to explain my months of absence: I sold out.  Yes, in what was one of the positive developments this year, I’m currently a Staff Writer for a website called http://www.List25.com.  I’ve been there for about four months now and I meant to let y’all know officially much sooner, but I wanted to get some posts under my belt and then, life got really, really busy, and I haven’t been back.  Obviously I am back at the moment, but I can’t promise much consistency here because, frankly, I have a hard enough time keeping up with my post requirement over there.  However, I’m not quitting here.  I’m just not going to commit to frequent posts for now.  That being the case, you should subscribe, so when I do post, you can come look!  And meantime go visit me on List25.com and check out my ultra-cool bio on the “about” page ( http://list25.com/about/ .)

screenshot-2016-12-31-23-22-58Enough shameless pluggery, let’s talk about sucky years.  2015, as mentioned in last year’s post, was a hard, hard year.  Uber was fun but I barely got by.  By the end I had found my new workplace, and was feeling pretty good.  Well, 2016 continued the workplace success,
and then some.  Not only am I writing part-time, but my full-time job is paying for accounting classes to further expand and refine my skills.  This is a great benefit, and I’m grateful for it.  It’s also probably a good thing my social life is more or less nonexistent.

Yeah, for just under half of the year I was something I really, really shouldn’t be for long periods of time: Alone.  While you all know I’ve been single for literally a decade (as of this last November,)  I have, for most of those years benefitted from either a relatively close-knit friend group, or a somewhat regular “companion”, or both.  But as of around July this last year, both got very quiet, and I honestly grew pretty bitter about it.

I’ll vent, briefly, and then move on because this is not meant to be a rant.  But I feel like some people use words like “friend”, “always”, and especially “love” far too loosely.  I don’t, and I understand that individuals assign different levels of meaning to them.  But when somebody promises they’ll always be there, part of me tried to believe a couple years later they still will be.  And if they tell me they love me… well, if I’ve ever said that to anyone, they could more or less call on me years later and I would do my best to accommodate.   So I guess coming out of 2014-2015, when my life made its first major shift before shifting again in 2106 and finally settling down, I just expected some of those friendships that had been built over years to endure more.  When many didn’t, and I had already grown dark because life had worn me down, it just made me more resentful and bitter towards those that made claims they simply weren’t willing to back up.

I get it.  People grow, and change and move on to new phases, but that doesn’t mean you forget who your friends were.  What they meant to you and what they did for you.  You don’t get to just write off years of experiences without reason.

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Not totally alone. 🙂

That’s not to say there weren’t those who didn’t have their reasons, myself included.  That’s also not to say that some people didn’t step up (or at least try.)  I’ve joked in person that I have like… two friends now.  But when I think about it, that’s not true.  I still have a ton of friends, we’re just distant, and spread out, and belong to different groups.  All of that is okay, and if any of you are reading this, I probably think about you, and I would probably, very easily pick up right where we left off.  I’ve been busy too, so I haven’t been super proactive in social settings.  (Even tonight a friend invited me out to a New Year’s party last minute and I declined.  I’m exhausted.  But it’s nice to know you’ve got somewhere to go.)

Speaking of, I really do appreciate those people who have hung in there through the years, and who came back on radar, whether randomly or because they knew I needed company.  It was because of them, my job going well,  and a few new people that have recently popped up, that I’ve been able to make it through the remaining months of the shit-show that’s been 2016 and not move away to a distant mountain in New Zealand (that was a very serious consideration post-election night…)

Speaking of the election.  Fucking humans.  I KNEW he would be elected.  Hell, I knew it before he even officially announced he was running.  But I prayed, and begged, and pleaded that just this once I could be wrong about something like that.  That people would recognize the absolutely horrible and absurd concepts that are becoming disturbingly normalized and think that no matter HOW much they bought into the carefully-crafted hatred of Hillary, they couldn’t possibly elect an insecure, belligerent, hateful, lying, monster of a man like Trump to lead and represent the United States on the world scene.  YOU HAD ONE JOB.  And now, a very large shadow looms over the incoming year(s).

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He’s had a lot of playtime.

There were, I think, three times this year, when I did my best to stifle the disdain and contempt for humanity that has steadily grown in me.  When things felt like they might be okay, and I could try to discard my emotionless, robotic manner in order to have a better attitude about things and maybe have a little hope.   Election time was one of those times, and obviously it was swiftly and utterly crushed.  There was another time before that, and one since then in which it lasted a day or two at most before I felt it was a lost cause and retreated back to the all too familiar darkness that’s grown comfortable.

But now a new year is upon us and I’m going to try again, and I’m going to try harder.  My foundation finally appears to be set, and those who have stuck by are being joined by a few new faces that will undoubtedly multiply.  The path for this year can initially go one of two different ways, and the first few days of 2017 will decide which of those paths I will start down.  Either is a path of growth and personal development, and more importantly; 希望 cheers(kibō) the Japanese word for hope.  With Carrie Fisher among the last of the many icons 2016 took from us, it seems appropriate that this is my sole, general resolution.  I’m going to try to be, and remain, hopeful in the face of whatever setbacks and obstacles come at me in 2017.

“When you defend your ideas in public, you then have to make an effort to  live accordingly.”  – The Manual of The Warrior of the Light. (Paulo Coelho)

Happy New Year Everyone!

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The Fading Magic Of Love

Admittedly the following thoughts are my own (somewhat emo) individual observations and feelings, so take them with a grain of salt, this has not be researched by any means.  In fact, hopefully I’m very off-base overall… but it occurs to me that a great deal of what traditionally considered “romantic” or proactive in terms of somebody pursuing another person romantically is now considered “creepy”, “stalker-ish”, or “harassment”. (Which, in many cases it actually is, I’m in no way disputing that, and nobody should be harassed regardless.)

Thus is the plight of modern romance. Unless the stars align and you cross paths and are introduced organically through social situations, folks are more or less forced to use social media style apps like Tinder or various dating sites to create a pre-existing context to meeting a stranger.

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Ahh… romance (though points for the HP reference.)

There is no more “love at first sight” for a stranger or acquaintance because nine times out of ten (especially, but not always, if it’s a man pursuing a woman) randomly approaching or attempting to talk to / get to know somebody that you have no (or very limited) preexisting context with will be met with suspicion, scorn and a label of one of the above terms.

Further, even if met with courtesy, attempting to pursue the matter usually breeds discomfort and is quickly reclassified into one of the above categories.

But that said, it’s true that such things (when unwanted, which initially, before people get to know each other, they almost always will be…) ARE in fact harassment and a lot of the tactics that folks in the “old days” used to employ to get a potential partner’s attention ARE in fact a form of stalking. And it’s absolutely correct that nobody should have to put up with harassment or stalking on any level, even with good intentions.

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Stalker!

So I wonder then what the fix is? What if everyone you come across organically isn’t the right one for you? What if you come across a relative stranger and feel the magical pull of what was once love at first sight, but there’s no real way to pursue it? What if all the “dating” apps yield a few great friends but then mostly contribute to losing your faith in humanity?

More and more people are staying single, and that’s okay because we need to be our own strong, independent people… but I feel like romance and whatever magic that love once held is becoming more and more scarce because the rules have changed and people either don’t want to play the game any more, or don’t really know how to operate in the new rule set. Or maybe the new rule set just doesn’t lend itself well to spark of a real, long-term love.

It’s a social evolution in that people’s rights are being respected on equal levels (ideally anyway), but in doing away with the archaic misogyny and religion – based social constructs, we may have also discarded some of the attached old-school charm and courtship that led to a small percentage (among many failed…) of happy, long-term, adorable couples/families. These days I see families and couples, but a large majority of them have settled, I don’t see the love. Some admit it, others don’t and in some cases my observation is wrong… but in others it has been proven to me, through action, confession or simply watching it fall apart.

I suppose it’s too early to tell, and I can only speak for my immediate bubble, but I see even less potential for those true, long-term connections now than I did with the old ways. We reduced the suffering of millions, and there’s no question that it’s worth it, but I think that the increasing rarity of classic, old-school style love actually makes me sad. It’s as easy as it has ever been to find somebody to hook-up with, but the problem is some part of me always wanted the idealized classic, stable, happy family with the “picket fence” or some version of it and I’m beginning to think that for somebody like me in a world like this, I can’t build it. I can build me, but everything else is like playing the social lottery, and the odds are very much not in my favor.

(Note: This wasn’t supposed to be a blog post,  it started out as a facebook post… I guess I just had a lot to say.)

The Case for Being Selfish

“Being good doesn’t mean good things will happen to you…” -Rumplestiltskin (Once Upon A Time)

A long time ago in a land far far away… I was a villain.  Some days I think I still am.  I share a lot of the same traits:  selfishness, narcissism, disregard for a lot of the “rules” and a general distain towards humanity as a whole.  There’s some things that changed as I grew and if I am still a bad guy, I might be a bit more honorable… if only by my own code.  I actively try to be better anyway.

Yay for ironic double-meanings!

Yay for ironic double-meanings!

One thing I can’t seem to make it around though, is my own selfishness.  But I think I know why.  The fact of the matter is, generally speaking the world is selfish.  Humans, by nature are selfish.  People find all kinds of ways to sugar-coat it and feel better about themselves, but at the end of the day almost everyone places higher value on themselves and those more important to themselves.  What this also means, is that those who decide to try not to be selfish will never receive their due.  At the very least they will generally receive less appreciation than they are due, and at most (and probably far too often) they will be completely and utterly taken advantage of.  They are rewarded by being stripped bare and left with nothing because people took with malice, carelessness or simply didn’t think about the affect their actions would have on the giver.  When a tree bears fruit, there are proper times and ways to harvest the fruit so that it can bear fruit again easily.  The same can be said for those willing to give selflessly, but all too often the right way is ignored for the sake of personal gain.

I have, in the past, attempted to be a “better” person, by acting selflessly, giving without expectation and trying not to judge those who seem ignorant to plight of those around them.

Well, fuck that.

Though now I still occasionally, (even often) give, no longer is it without strings. It is no longer selfless.  Those I give to I either owe, or want them to owe me.  I suppose in some cases I do so simply for the feeling of making them happy and, in turn, making myself happy.  But even then it’s a form of “brownie points” with them or -at the very least- my own personal satisfaction.  I contribute to the system, I show respect to those around me on the surface and I don’t go out of my way to mess with anyone else’s world (unless they do so with mine…)  But I don’t feel I owe the world anything, and I don’t have any desire to give to it without expectation of return.  Maybe that makes me a part of the problem, but the truth is the real problem is the system and society that encourages selfishness.
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Those at the top are selfish, they look after themselves and their own before others.  Even the modern-day great philanthropists: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Bono, etc. are businessmen and celebrities who amassed fortunes most average people cannot even dream of before spending fractions of those fortunes to try and make the world a better place.  Meanwhile famous “selfless” humanitarians such as Mother Teresa are loaded with contradiction and agenda (often religious) over the actual care of the people. (I’m not going into it, but head over to google and do some research, especially the last 50 years or so of her life are said to have been quite contradictory to her image.)

So what’s the lesson here?  I’m not saying “don’t give” or “don’t be selfless ever”.  Remember that moderation is necessary in all things!  I’m saying be okay with being selfish first.  Look after yourself and don’t be afraid to say no to those who ask for things unless they earn it.  Just because you have, doesn’t mean you have to give.  Many of the people mentioned above had a lot before they really began to give.  Now, you don’t have to be the asshole that I admittedly am sometimes, as I said, it’s often questionable whether or not I’m still a bad guy. But people will try to make you feel guilty about having and not giving, which is ridiculous because they are all too eager to take from you and give much less in return.

Try it sometime, if you’re a natural nice person and giver and you feel you have a lot of great friends around all the time who value you, test it.  For a little while, for whatever reason, just stop giving whatever it is you freely put out there; be it attention, money, things, affection, what have you.  For a short time, keep these things to yourself and see what happens.  I am willing to bet that a large percentage of those friends will give you less as well.  Some will call less, visit less or even disappear.  Do you know why?  Because their relationship with you was never unconditional just as you have to face that yours probably wasn’t with them either.  Even our relationships are selfish, so it’s okay for us to decide what we’re going to give, what not to give and what it’s worth.  Relationships in any form are usually some sort of unwritten contract, and when you change the terms, what you get will also change.

People like him for his selflessness...

People like him for his selflessness…

I tend to lean toward the Liberal side of politics; I think Norway has it right in terms of taxes and public systems and I believe the concepts of socialism and even communism in it’s purest forms are great ideas.  But humans can’t pull it off because they are too inherently selfish and greedy.  Even if some can reason past it for the greater good, it only takes a small percentage to ruin an otherwise perfect system.  That’s why such things only work in limited degrees when properly implemented by government, and only when there’s enough reasonable people to overrule the many that are blindly selfish.

But this isn’t about politics, this is about individuals.  This is about me.  Someday I would love to have the resources to be a humanitarian like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or even (to a lesser degree) George Clooney.  But if I am, I’m going to get mine first and I’m going to give to and look after those who earn it first.  Show me you deserve it, and I will enjoy feeling obligated to give to you.  But make me feel as though I’m being taken for granted, and I will withdraw as quickly as I put myself out there.  Whether it be attention, money, time or even love.. I will give to the right people,I  but I have to look after myself before I can give to anyone else.  That might be selfish, but that’s what this world has shown me and given me, that’s how the game is played.  Until the majority of this world decides the change the rules for the better of us all, I’ll play the hand I’ve been dealt, and win.