Saturday, February 25, 2017

Distracted Living

The New Yorker, 1/16/2016
The curse of our age is the lack of attention we give to this breathing moment. We are unable to aim our thoughts at a single topic and see it through. I know this from experience. How often have I set out on one path, with every intention of following through to the end, only to be distracted by some shiny object requiring my immediate attention. There is too much glitter in this world. We know what to blame, but are we capable of identifying who to blame? Every minute there is something new to take us away from what might have satisfied our minds, but we would rather open our phones and click on the latest tweet and go into the media hole. Click, click, click is really the tick, tick, tick of our lives getting away from us. How many hours have I spent searching for distractions when I should have been pursuing something of value.

Is our drive to click another part of our national addiction to everything easy? We eat junk food. We watch junk TV. We have lowly interests: celebrity, sports, money, etc. We allow others to steal our time, the one precious thing we can't get more of, but are upset if we lose $20. If we thought of our time as something real, would we treat it with such little care? Don't be like the man that had a million dollars and is now down to his last $100. How closely he watches every dime. We should be the same with our time. When we were young, our days never seemed to end and we were happy to waste them. But now, with the end getting nearer, we find the days becoming more precious like that last $100 bill. Find a way to spend time well, and you will have accomplished much.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Time of Trumpoil

We are about to enter a new time in America: The Time of Trumpoil. Yes, things are about to get incredibly confusing in the United States of America. We will have a president that doesn't seem to have an internal guide for his actions, that doesn't seem to understand the role he is about to step into as President of the United States--POTUS. We don't know what is going to happen come January 21st other than we have elected a man that doesn't seem to have any restraint, that is incapable of taking the time to form an opinion but rather he immediately has one without working through a few of the details. Maybe this is a trait that works for a real estate developer, but it seems dangerous for the leader of one of the largest organizations in the world. Even the manager of a 7-Eleven needs to think about making a change in the configuration of the potato chip display before he starts moving things around. The danger with a President Trump is that he will start rearranging the store before he thinks about the entire store. Or put another way, he will start driving before he knows where he is going. I wonder if Trump would starting building a hotel before he knew how many floors it was going to have? In other words, plans need to be formulated with the end I mind. It's project management 101--what is the desired result?

We are about to start a strange time. (Trumpoil is play on Turmoil: a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty). Who will we see on January 21st? Will we have a president capable of guiding this vast ship of state or will we start out headed for that iceberg floating over the horizon? It was only 16 years ago that another president was sworn in that also won an election with fewer votes that his opponent and it did not end well and, in fact, has not been entirely played out. The trouble started has not yet bee resolved. This brings up an interesting point: the American voters may indeed be wise as it seems in both elections, Trump and Bush, the candidate with fewer votes was put into office. The wisdom of the voters was denied by a system created to keep power out of the hands of the people, but that system was also supposed to lead to the election of the wiser, more steady candidate. In both cases that was not the case. In both cases the candidate that appealed to the passions of the people was elected which goes against the intentions of the founding fathers.

So here we go again... We are about to embark on another challenging period that will in all likelihood lead to more disasters, more troubles for America and the world. We are entering dangerous times with a leader that, to date, seems incapable of thinking things through to the end. Hold on tight because it's going to be a rough ride.

Monday, September 12, 2016


It is of course the most normal thing to start thinking about the past when you are facing the middle hump of life. When I look back at the previous 48 years I don't see another 48 years stretching into the future; I see 20 years of, if I am lucky. Good years followed by some shitty years when the highlight of each day will be a decent bowel movement and decent night of sleep. My best years, my unconsious years are behind me, and the years of being overly conscious about time, people, health, and money are rising up before. When I was young I seemed to not worry if my bank account dropped below $30 bucks with a week until payday. With $30 in the bank, I would take out $20 to go have a few drinks. Now, with thousands of times that in the bank, I feel fear. If there is one thing you can accomplish when growing old, it's to reject fear, to live.   

Manufactured Lonliness

Life must be more than the accumulation of things sold to us by corporations that both create the objects of desire and the demand for them. How does an individual ensure that their desire, on some level, is only their own and not one manufactured by those that only wish to divert wealth from a need to a want. A human being needs food, shelter, and, on some level, love. In fact, many of the things towards which we direct our desires are an attempt to receive love from another individual or a group of anonymous individuals. We are manipulated into believing that satisfaction can be achieved by exceeding our basic need for food and shelter and working to achieve human love through things. We are diverted away from caring for people to caring for things we believe will help us reach our goal of people. We continuously fondle and caress our consumer products and ignore those around us. What is our objective in life? Is it to spend more time with more and more sophisticated things or to interact with people? When we interact more with people we are not buying into the corporate message. The corporate message is anti-people. The corporate message wants to isolate individuals and have them believe that the thing the desire, love, can be achieved through the possession of, and interaction with, things. This is not a plot, but the expression of a sales technique. An individual that is happy, loved, and successful in that he has those two things does not want to live through the objects or the presentation of oneself as an object. By surrounding ourselves with objects, and living our lives through symbols of success and beauty, we destroy the things that are truly beautiful. By believing the corporate message of what is beautiful, of what is meaningful, we remove ourselves from the world and cease to live. By living through symbols that are not our own creation we move away from life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Year of Stoicism

I have shown a much greater interest in Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca over the past several months and am working to apply the teachings of Stoicism as I go through the day. Each day is filled with the opportunity to apply a Life Philosophy. And what is a Life Philosophy? It's a set of tools to manage the one's life. When confronted with anything in one's daily activities there is an opportunity to apply a system of ideas so that, basically, one does not waste one's life focused on the wrong thoughts. The basic rule, as I see it, is that we are in control of our own minds, we can choose what to believe and understand how we came to that believe. We can decide if it's rational or based on some false impressions. We can control our impressions. We can see what is within out control and what is out of our control.

That is rule one, when going through my day, I need to clearly see I am in control of my mind, I can direct my thoughts and actions.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

I am a Street Photographer

I have decided to become a street photographer.

I figure there is a lot of money in it. Also, it's one of the easier art forms as it can be done while fully drunk.

Only including photos here that were taken while sober.

What I miss most is the time to just sit and think...

Emotion, story, action...

People being people.

All with stories to tell.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Find my Ship

I am suffering from that most tedious of maladies, lebensmüde. We somehow come into this world and wend our way through life only to come to a point where it all seems absurd. I have felt this way before and it has passed and I have slipped back into the oblivion of eating, sleeping, working, and engaging with friends and family, but in the back of my mind, it's there, this feeling of the pointlessness of it all. The sheer lack of any purpose to any of this not just for me individually but for any of us. I get that this feeling is childish and should have been overcome in my 20s but somehow it persists. It brings to mind the quote from Melville:

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.

I need to find a metaphorical "ship" I can jump on to end these blues. Find some satisfaction in this life that doesn't involve consuming anything from pills to new shoes. Time to find something to keep me going: maybe take up the trumpet, learn Portuguese, or start painting again.