One of the things I’ve been thinking about today regarding mental health has been this feeling that you are working towards something. But really I’m having a hard time articulating, much less understanding what that is. You see, I am not sure I have met a single person on this spinning rock who is There. I have yet to meet his Holiness the Dalai Lama or anyone absolutely secure with themselves.

The few I’ve met who came close just seemed to be lonely and fine with that. I’m not sure that is the same thing. It’s not what I want. It reminds me too much of the Aesthetic model of early Christianity where they rejected the World and its evils and perched on top of stone columns or hid out in caves until they died of exposure, ignoring the beautiful gifts and people the world has to offer.

I feel like there is something missing in Healing. A key element people talk about is not letting loneliness bother them. But I also think that is ignoring an important emotion. I don’t think that people need to eschew the trappings of emotional connection to be happy. I think they just need to have decent boundaries that work to filter out those incapable of fulfilling the need for healthy connection. Is that what I’m supposed to be looking for?

Settling for less that what you deserve is something important to be careful of. All the times in my life I’ve been unhappy with a relationship it has been due to settling. Friendships, romantic, familial, work, etc. This idea that you are only good enough for X.

When I was soaking in Glenwood the other day, I overheard a conversation between two people. A young woman and a young man about her age. Both were attractive in that youthful Instagram kind of way. She dominated the conversation. I think he might have had more to add if the subject drifted more towards crossfit or what his tattoos signified.

She was talking about a man in NYC she had been dating. Francesco. He was a NYT bestselling writer and “out of my league,” she explained. She put herself in a box and was now slumming it on the Jersey Shore with the Situation Jr. I kinda felt bad for Francesco, because if he dated her, he probably didn’t see her as being beneath him. He probably just liked her. And if he was a writer, his external ego and aura of success was probably a construct of self-defense anyway. Not saying all writers are neurotic messes…but it takes a certain kind of person to sit in front of a computer all day making shit up in their head.

So what AM I working towards? What does better mental health look like? What does healthy emotional balance feel like? What is this invisible, intangiable thing that we are supposed to be working towards? How will we know if we reach it? What if we pass it and then just wander on ahead blindly? Is that kind of emotional equilibrium boring? Do we find some sort of sanguine Jedi headspace where we aren’t rattled by anything, or a stoicism that means we feel almost nothing? Jeez, that sounds awful actually.

Things I miss are belly laughs with someone, sharing dreams and ambitions, plotting out our dream house together, wanting to work towards similar goals and sharing that kind of ambitious energy. Emotional support. Spontaneous, flirtatious moments. Snort laughs. Telling old stories and enjoying hearing them no matter how many times they are told and allowing the fish in the tales to get bigger and bigger. Happy tears. Falling over together breathless, hearts racing, heads swimming. Favorite restaurants and pizza pockets in front of the TV on a snowy night.

Are these things to leave behind because the times you had them were nice, but hurt to miss them? Because it sucks to lose these things, knowing that if you ever get something like them again, it won’t be the same. It would be a paler reflection or just a reminder of what you lost. A half-remembered dream.

What am I working towards?

What vision of the future do I have for myself? What is attainable, and what is something that just sounds like it would be nice? Do I want to live in a giant mansion on the hill in my smoking jacket with a blazing fire in my drawing room, constructing an animatonal creation/psuedo son that might accidentally kill me when I am trying to give him a gift of new hands (instead of scissors), or maybe living a nomadic lifestyle in a camper van, driving from place to place, getting into adventures in an episodic meandering that changes every week, but is familiar enough to keep people interested?

Or do I just write, walk to the post office, make lunch, drink coffee, write, nap, write, eat, sleep until I die? With some short day trips thrown in there for variety, having conversations with strangers or eavesdropping on others to voyeuristically peek into their lives?

And just be okay with that?

I guess it beats finding someone who demands all of my time, insists that I take out the trash or pick up my socks when I’m busy with something else or grumbles about visits from either of our families or how so-and-so on Facebook must be happier because they went to Turks and Caicos for an anniversary and we didn’t. Daydreaming about doing the things you wonder if they will give you fulfillment as you are attached to a shitty, dead-end job just to break even every month, but never actually being brave enough to give it a shot. Feeling okay with complete and total failure and learning from it. Because it was scary and outside of your comfort zone.

Comfort zones are poisonous. People drift towards familiarity no matter how toxic because being on a journey on your own to discover what actually fills your soul is fucking lonely. You second guess yourself, especially if your whole life you’ve been trained to second guess yourself. It’s scary to do it alone, especially when you feel like nobody believes in you, or no one understands what it is you are trying to find. Some people keep trying to cobble together a broken life because it is familiar, rather than pull themselves out of the ashes and move on to what they really want.

That, my friends, is the definition of settling.

I think it’s okay to question the direction you are taking and even wonder what it is that you value. It’s part of the journey, and not even His Holiness the Dalai Lama can give it to you. You have to understand that there is a point out there on the horizon and a drive to walk towards it, and maybe if you are lucky enough, you’ll figure out what you want to do about it when you get there.


Big Empty

Since I’ve been curtailing my social media interractions I’ve realized a few things. One of them is that social media is a drug that gives us a fix of feel good chemicals whenever we use it. The other thing is that it is based on quantity of interraction and not quality.

I have maybe three people I talk to regularly where we have actual deep conversations. You would think out of the nearly 400 “friends” I have on social media, that number would be much higher, just simply based on the law of averages. Nope. I’ve got three. Four if you add up the people I speak with every couple of months.

I think social media has rewired us and not in good ways. I have been on my soap box a number of times about this. But you know what, I miss just being able to hang out with someone and talk about anything. There are also times when I need my solitude and I know that talking with someone is going to be a distraction (welcome, yes. What I should be doing? No.) and social media makes it easy enough to just disconnect and look in, rather than interract.

But as you scroll. And scroll. And scroll…you are still interracting. You are still devoting time to the process. You just aren’t having an interraction with someone on an intellectual or emotional level. We all become wallflowers at a highschool dance, watching the popular kids grind it out on the dance floor. And that makes us feel lonely.

Yesterday was a big writing day. I might have broken my record. I don’t know. I didn’t go through and tally up the words, but I am sure I broke 10k. I think my all-time record is the day I wrote a short story in one day that was 14,000 words long. I paired it down to 6k and finally sold it three years later. I’m not a fan of that. You wind up pandering to an editor, rather than letting the story breathe and become what it wants to be.

Yesterday, I wrote a section that was dialog heavy. It wound up being 3500 words. Most of it just two characters talking back and forth. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing. I mean, if it’s hard enough to talk to just three people in my life, then who is going to read this book when it’s done? Those moments will stop you dead in your tracks.

This morning I shared a YouTube video with one of my friends about David Fincher movies and how even every angle and beat of his films has some kind of meaning that drives the story. Movies have come a long way from the early days of just blocking a set to make sure everyone gets in the shot when the director calls “Action.” So, maybe with my 3500 words of dialog, it means something. It drives the story or tells something about the characters or irony or whatever.

Here is the the video.

The takeaway from the video is Fincher states simply enough that he has based an entire career on people being perverts. Maybe they want to read this book because it’s a deeper, intimate look at someone’s life. Maybe they’ll see something of themselves in the story. Maybe they will hate it. Maybe they’ll throw the book across the room, or it will never make it past an editor’s desk. That’s not why I’m writing it. I’m writing it because it is a story demanding to be told.

Maybe just enough people are perverts that they will read it.


I have written a lot of words today.

I could have broken 10,000 words today. I’m not sure. I’ve been working on the book most of the day. I took a nap at one point and watched Vox Machina on Amazon for a little while. It was a fun distraction. Made pasta for dinner. Then made coffee and started writing again at 10:00pm.

I’m finding that I’m rewriting chapters and scenes and not even realizing it sometimes, but I am cleaning things up. I’m connecting the dots between scenes and building something of a story. It’s pretty exciting.

Whenever I don’t want to write, I just flip through the War of Art by Pressfield and I get motivated. It’s a great way to overcome that hurdle of Resistance. This story wants to be told. I think in some ways it wants to be told so I can get on with my life and not have to keep telling it. It sometimes sucks to tell it because there is a lot of emotional damage. But in telling it sometimes, it is cathartic.

The coffee is wearing off and I can hear Penny snoring in my chair. I’m going to head to bed.