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  • 4 weeks later...

Day Unknown:  downward spiral into the Minus World

It started with the arcade bar.  That led to downloading some emulators.  many of you are familiar with this story.  Ramped back up to 4 hours on weekdays and 6-8 hours weekend days in a few weeks...

Healing well from surgery, but mentally, spiritually, I'm a wreck.  Burned through probably 250 bucks on games in the last month.  Maybe more.

At first, it was exciting, probably because it was forbidden and I was sneaking playtime. Now, after losing hours and hours of sleep, I'm a zombie.  My head is full of crappy thoughts, my body full of aches.  I'm lonely, empty, not pursuing any other goals really.  

By the old gods and the new, I read about relapse, and intellectually, knew it was a possibility.  This is a dark place.  I don't know if this is me coping with a heavy load in a bad way, or if I'm falling apart.

Old therapist left, and it was 6  weeks before the new one got started with me.  In that time I was riding the dopamine from this game, from that game.  If my wrist or elbow got strained, I'd switch hands or change to a controller.

After a while, the newness of each new game or old game would wear off, the rate of lost interest growing faster.

I have these epic romantic fantasies about what the gaming will feel like, how the adventure will make me feel.  I set games on hard or nightmare just to prove that it's not a cakewalk, that I'm "doing something." 

It's all a lie.  

I've really slacked off at work lately, and I'm behind on a few big projects.  The sleep deprivation is really taking a toll.

I'm really, really embarrassed for relapsing and abandoning my detox.  

It wasn't all bad, though.

I did read a few books and got interesting in writing stories, instead of just clicking though them.  I did play a little guitar.  I did organize outings and parties and even ended up playing board games with total strangers.

I took an online programming course and started another.  I took on some new job responsibilities and got recognized for good work.  

I want to try again.  I need detox and some quality rest from the over-stimulation.


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Day whatever

Broke down in therapy today.  Yeah, that kind of post, readers.  Being tired turns me into the most emo Hulk.  Angry, yet sad.  That's my secret, I'm always a little sad.

Going to bed now.  

That's ok! Good to let it all out!

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  • 6 months later...

Day 1: Hope and Healing

"Divorce is not for the weak" - a good friend, Dr. "Kiss"

I am a survivor.  I am on my way to being a "thriver."  

Yes, I am playing too many games.  But I am in my own place now.  Handling it.  

I survived the greatest breakup in my lifetime.  I am caring for myself and others.

I have met someone new, and taking it slow.  It could be love.  Optimistically, it will be love.

I have survived sickness and stress.  I have been lied to and about.  My relationships and goals were tested.

I survived this.  

I survived terrible physical pain.  I survived embarrassment.  I survived erectile dysfunction and bad rebounds and casual flings with sketchy people.

I survived WITHOUT INTERNET for a month.  Yeah, now it's serious.

I survive, and I will thrive.

You never know which ManGodWhyNo will show up in these posts.  It's clear the optimistic one showed up.

I have reasons to be optimistic.  My excellent therapist pronounced me "clear" of the bullshit misdiagnoses I've gotten over the years.

There's nothing wrong with me.  Yes, I had a terrible childhood.  Yes, my parents were emotionally unstable narcissists, addicts, and religious Trump-voting nutjob hoarders.

I'm not going to live that way.  

I took a challenge to read 3 books over the holidays.  I chose Dune.  Epic.  Crazy.  At times, silly.  But complex and interesting.  

Like myself, flawed but multifaceted.  Indulgent but imaginative.

I am cultivating hope in the garden of my mind.  I prioritize sleep over everything.  Diet and sobriety.

Ya'll know I'm looking for redemption.  

I had a lesson over the holidays.  I had the worst flu of my life.  Nausea, migraine, I could barely walk.  It was torture and solitary confinement and family time all in one!

I used to think my most valuable possession was my car, my computer.  I used to think my job was small and insignificant.  My paycheck, laughable.

The greatest possession is health.  I couldn't unplug from the rat race, the endless self-flagellating comparisons to richer, better, peers and celebs and friends and strangers.

But that doesn't matter.  I've unplugged from politics.  From news.  I choose health and local concerns.  I no longer want to convince people to believe in Bernie.  

I want to convince myself to believe in myself.  

My therapist and I agreed on a challenge - what limiting beliefs are holding me back?  

Here goes, Dear Readers:

1. I will never have any money

2. I am destined to be alone

3. I will never be a parent 

4. I am not normal and will never be.

5. I will never be with someone who really understands me.

6. I don't have a future.

7. Everyone knows what a failure I am.  

8. No one wants to know me.

9. I will never get to a healthy weight.

10. I will always live in mediocrity.

11. I will never make it into the professional career of my choice.

12. Everyone thinks I'm crazy.

13. I don't know how to take care of myself.

14. I will never have personal style.

15. I am doomed.

16. I can't have nice things.

17. I only hurt people I care about.

18. I am a monster.

19. I am too damaged to (blank)

20. It's only downhill from here.

These are some serious limiting beliefs.  I have to fight against them in my darker days.  Sometimes lack of sleep will trigger these spirals.  Sometimes pain.  Sometimes a random article or sentence or even a particularly dark television show. 

In those moments I say "Boy, my mind is really being critical right now," or "that's a very negative thought." 

Waking in the subzero cold last week, I forced myself to go to work anyway. "It's really hard to function on days like this, when the cold eats your bones."

I can exist with negatives.  I can exist imperfectly.  I can carve out moments of gratitude and joy even when I am suboptimal, confused, panicking, or just being lazy.

It's true.  I have been damaged.  I have had significant losses.  A home.  A marriage, basically.  Scholarships.  A Car.  My mind. 

I survived these.  Many of you have survived as well.  Like badly written code, maybe you just hacked your way through.

Like a poorly written novel, you just put on your plot armor and jumped to the next chapter.

Sometimes, that's what it takes.

Sometimes, you can't argue your brain into submission.  You just have to tell it to fuck off, or just ignore it.  

I'm an atheist, so I don't have a God to trust.  But I do have faith in Life.  I know that consciousness, that humans, are in beta testing.

I know and believe that we give things meaning.  I choose to participate in reality and for my life to have meaning.

I choose to redeem myself - no dead carpenters needed.

When I have my next craving for food, for alcohol, for mindless gaming, I'm going to ask "will this bring me the joy I seek?"  Am I truly hungry for this?

"Go I forth to my work like an ass in the desert" - Gurney Halleck, Dune

Positive PS:

I got a 2K bonus this year.  I've bought myself new clothes and I'm going to fix my car.  I'm taking a vacation with my new gf.  I haven't bought a video game in months!  

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Good to hear from you bro!

Yeah really nice. I am glad that life is becomming better again for you. Congratulations on surviving. All these beliefs you have are really subjective. Nothing of this is true for sure. Most of it is obiously wrong. I can clearly state that without even knowing you on a personal level.

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Day 2: True Grit

Great to hear from you all, @Cam Adair, @WorkInProgress, @kingstravy.  I'm not giving into those beliefs anytime soon.  Just identifying them so my Zen targeting mindfulness lasers can blast them like wamprats in Beggar's Canyon.

Found something cool to share with you guys as your respawn and rebuild yourselves that really helped me on the domestic front:

http://www.unfuckyourhabitat.com/ makes the most sense out of all the declutter/minimalist/clean your room type strategies.

Had mixed results at the doctor today - my wound (six months now!) is clear of infection, looking better, changing shape, but not getting smaller.  Was shocked at the test results - I, an American male, wasn't getting enough protein!  

I put myself on 2/day shakes, the good stuff from Optimum Nutrition.  I guess this is a common problem for people who eat less meat like myself.  Tofu and eggs just isn't cutting it.  I was below the scale for albumen readings.  Total surprise.  But maybe not so much- I had noticed more muscle soreness than usual and longer healing times for scratches and cuts.  I just thought  I was getting old (I am) - but it was a nutrition problem.

I have both strong positive and negative motivators now - positive: I need to be healthy to get strong, to have a quality of life, to do yoga, be outside, climb, make love, take care of myself and others.  

Negative: if I don't heal up in a month they are going to do a skin graft and call it a permanent hole.  Going to do everything to avoid that scenario.

Here's the grit.  I didn't get the golden good news I wanted.  I would have avoided the problem, but that's what got me into this mess. 

I'm taking action.  I'm tracking my response, my intake, my moods, my sleep.  I'm gonna beat this thing.

I'm supposed to make a list of accomplishments as ammunition against my inner critic.  Counteracts the limiting beliefs nicely!


Proof of Grit

Lost the weight I gained in my divorce

Got to 9 hours of sleep a night

Learned how to date again 

Sowed some wild oats and got the rebound out of the way

Felt confident enough to turn down sex!

Conducted myself honorably and honestly in a world of hookups, ghosting, and deception.

Met somebody amazing and chose them consciously

Finished 3rd semester of graduate school with 3.95 average

Bargained for a raise.

Spent the money I would have wasted on games on a new warddrobe

Patched my relationship with my brother and held my new nephew in my arms

Had a great christmas, choosing thoughtful gifts for others for the first time.

Consistently journaled for a week straight.

Consistently went to therapy for a year.

Joined Weight Watchers and worked the program, losing 20+ pounds.

Survived divorce and maintained amicable relationship with ex.

Survived on my own with a decent habitat and quality of life.

Made new friends.

Learned basic Chinese

Learned more guitar

Survived the Trumpocalypse (ongoing*)

Grew a beard!

I started up a game and turned it off.  I've learned that I use gaming as a crutch in what is known as a "freezing" response.  In other words, gaming is just something to do while I am emotionally paralyzed, which is a helplessness/survival mode reaction I learned in my traumatic childhood (and young adulthood).

Other "freezing" behaviors are: mindless eating, mindless screen time, mindless dating (can fill a lot of time with low-quality interactions).

Had a realization.  I always missed reading and the other things I used to do before gaming took over my life.  I always assumed I was too manic or unfocused to read, but I see that 1) I had attenuated to "faster" dopamine generators like gaming and 2) I couldn't relax because I was angry and still in grief over the tragic losses I've suffered.  

Some people don't eat food when they are greiving.  Some withdraw from friends.  I withdraw from people and also spiritual/mind-nurturing behaviors.  I forgive myself for this.  I was hurting.  Not emo hurting.  The kind of soul-hurt from when a cosmic hammer pulverizes your whole universe.

I was shattered and I was doing my best to survive.  I did survive.  But it's time to "unfreeze", to un-pause my life.  I remember wishing, probably as so many of you have, that you could just pause your life to unfuck everything, or stop the onslaught of flashing red lights.

Gaming-as-life is like the city of Kandor that Superman keeps - it's a miniature, incomplete existence - it was a last-ditch effort to save the people, but at a great cost - and his ongoing inability to restore them is a reminder of his great failure.

I have had failures, but I am NOT a failure.  I have made mistakes, but I am NOT a mistake.  I have lost and been lost, but I am NOT lost.

I am going to heal from the complex web of PTSD, religious programming, maladaptive coping, depression, and anxiety into a beautiful swan-ninja.

Just watch, ya'll.


Postive PS: One of my clients told me I gave him the strength and confidence to keep going.  That nourishes my soul.  You bet it does. :) 



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Day 3: The Battle of Boredom

Dear Readers, tell me if I'm being too hard on myself - I got a bonus, I'm waiting for school to start, and I'm mostly just goofing off at work.

I got the important things done, I could clean, practice, or go back and review files.  But I'm mostly just researching and thinking about the future.

I'm trying an experiment in "extraordinary boredom."  I'm not on my phone.  I'm trying to avoid games (at work, even!).  

I definitely have 'nothing to do' syndrome.  I guess the truth is I'm out of easy stuff and I'm down to the things that are hard to do, or that I don't want to do.

1. Fix my car.

2. Clean my car.

3. Clean my office.

4. Practice new job duties

5. Contact clients who've fallen off the radar.

6. Contact friends.

7. Prepare for inclement weather.

8. Purchase my textbook.

9. Document old sessions.

10. Anything else I'm avoiding so well I forgot about it.

I suppose if I appealed to my higher self, I'd say either do an easy one or be okay with nothing for a few minutes.  It would feel good to resolve most of these.  I hate things hanging over my head, but sometimes feel powerless or afraid to do them.  

Learned helplessness, they call it.  

Well, I priced my books, that's something.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the life I would have had without X difficulty.  Lots of ifs and shoulds.  Such a trap.  Pity party central.  I have to live this life now.

Many of those things have to do with the future, with self care, habitat hygiene, and social connection.

I'm doing another item.  Just acknowledging that it's hard, but important is helpful.  It will make me feel good to finish.  I'm so used to existing in a state of frozen anxiety, where I don't even know why I'm freaking out.  

Last night I was so restless.  I'd be super-tired, then pacing, and I couldn't figure out why - these issues have to be at least part of it.  So many fucking lists and things hanging over my head, it keeps me in emergency mode all the time and destroys my relaxation.  

Paradox: how can I learn to relax when EVERYTHING needs work?  EVERYTHING could be better?  EVERYTHING is coming at once?

I turn to games and mindlessness to cope with this onslaught.  

The digital battles make me feel like I'm doing something, but it's an illusion.  Like drugs, they don't actually improve anything.

My roommate used to tease me about Game Quitters - but this week, for the first time, he said he wanted to cut back.  A frank admission that while games aren't evil, they do compete for time and attention, energy, resources, focus.

I just finished another item.  It wasn't so bad.  I think I can handle bursts of activity as long as I don't think it'll be a marathon.  

Jesus, my folks used to have us go for hours and hours.  It was brutal, and it didn't matter.  The hoard, the junk, the animals, the drama swallowed everything.

Now that I'm an adult, I still feel more like a Walking Dead survivor on the move and less of a householder.  I still have nothing on my walls.  I only exist in the present.

Keeping these emergencies unresolved maintains a cloud of drama that allows me to not even consider the future.  I want to break free of this cycle, but I don't think I have the strength or skills to handle everything.

Honestly, it's why my last relationship failed.  I couldn't meet her standards for planning, housekeeping, upkeep, cleaning, behavior.  Am I destined to live at the bottom of the quality of life graph?  

Positive PS: Gonna finish laundry tonight and clean my place.  At least that's living my way.


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I always had problems with cleaning and houskeeping etc. It is getting better though. I think the key is not to think about the whole package you got to do but instead put it inot small achievable Goals. If cleaning up your desk is something you dread maybe just plan on doing  smth smaller. Like organizing your papers for 15min. pr putting These 5 empty Cups of coffee away. I like to think of these things as minichallenges. The same thing could work wiht the car issue.´Google Workshops in your area. First task done. Call a car-Workshop and ask how much it would cost o repair it and how long you had to wait to get appointment. Etc. Breaking these thigns down seems often Kind of pointless because in the end you have to do the same amount of things. But what we forget if we think that way is that the hard things we dread to do are only a sum of easy things we could easily do. We just don't because the whole big task makes us feel uncomfortable. To apply this sort of fragmental thinking helps me personally alot. Maybe it could help you too.

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Entry 4: Embracing Emptiness

It's terrifying to have nothing to do.  For me, relaxation anxiety sets in.  Panic.  I can feel the adrenaline and cortisol juicing through my veins.

Preparing for?  Danger, what else?  The traumas I have suffered have left me with more triggers than a Matrix sequel.

As you might have surmised, it's hard to live this way.  Always watching the door.  Living like a refugee.

I want to read, to breathe, to think - my brain resists - No! Not now!  Too much!

Next to the hypervigilance, everything is boring.  The only thing I can do is carve out busywork for my self.  

That's where games come in.  They're a pacifier for an anxious child desperately trying to learn to be an adult.

I own maybe 500 games across many platforms, but I don't feel like playing more than a few of them.  If I moved my computer from the living room, I wouldn't play hardly at all.

But then what would I do with the emptiness?  The nothing?  The boredom?  The silence?  The waiting?

There is an experience of two feelings at once - two realizations - that is called "satori."

One part of me dreads these silences - the other has, at times, cherished them.

One feels the long-surpressed emotions bubbling up and is frantically trying to seal them away, avert their impact.

The other feels the release of long-held tension, even if it's anger, sadness, grief.

I found a zen teaching - in the most Zen of all places on the internet, the Huffington Post.

Enlightenment can come from anywhere, the Buddhas might say.

I'm going to get to that place of calm.  I'm going to learn to live with this not-knowing, the silence, with just myself and my thoughts.

To do that, I'm going to need to punch some of my emotions and behaviors IN THE FACE.

As I lay awake last night in what has become a ritual of pre-workweek insomnia, I realized that just because my inner warrior is over-tweaked, 

He should be rehabilitated, given a new mission.  

Now, he's gonna identify the following emotional states and mental strategies as the real threats.  

1. Comparing myself to my twin brother.  A highway to depression, for sure.  Antidote: I'm my own person.

2. Comparing myself to anyone else.  A slippery slope to unhappiness.  I have my own life I woke up in and I'm gonna live the shit out of it.

3. Avoidance of problems.  A pause is okay.  Out of sight, out of mind doesn't work.  Antidote: incremental progress, celebrate small victories.

4. Paralysis / Learned Helplessness.  I am NOT helpless.  Antidote: Notice it, I will talk myself out of the fugue and get back to living.

5. The Tyranny of the Shoulds.  Second guessing myself eternally isn't productive.  Antidote: Replace with "I want"

6. Self-Pity Spirals.  NOPE.  Antidote: Cultivating Gratitude

7. Self-hate Spirals.  Double NOPE.  Antidote: Cultivate self-compassion.

8. Absolute thinking.  "I will never..."  "I always..."  Absolutely wrong. Antidote: Notice and moderate.

9. Boredom: Tricky.  2 options:  1- allow it and savor the emptiness.  2--cultivate nourishing behaviors, even if discipline/practice is hard.

10. Anxiety: Tricky.  Investigate it.  Cope with the symptoms.  Avoid self-medication.  Take action.

11. No Direction:  Tricky.  Review my career plan and current goals.  If nothing else, clean my self and unfuck my habitat.  If I don't know what to do, I should at least live well in clean, safe, place.


Entry 5: New Love

You guys, I'm in love.  I'm in my mid-thirties, so I know when it's real.  Of course there's a problem.  She's so much like me, I worry - can I handle TWO of me?

Educated, underemployed, helping professions, kind, nerdy, from the same kind of dysfunctional white trash mess I come from.  Areligious but spiritual.  Overweight but comfortable in her body and sexy as hell.  Shy but full of inner worlds.  Has experienced depression and loss and survived.  

What's the problem?  The chemistry was immediate, like first sight, and don't get me started on the first kiss.  

Breaking Bad levels of chemistry.

Like me, no savings, a lot of college debt, a desire to help others and make more money doing it.

The Rat Race starts seeping in.  Should I try to marry up?  That didn't work out with my last relationship.  The class differences, more than anything, pushed us apart.  Now that we're in the same class, isn't it hypocritical or just foolish to think the grass is greener?  

It's not realistic that I'm gonna land a skinny rich neurosurgeon model.  I'm always swearing by Assortative Mating.  Like goes with like.

Here's a fear - do I want to fix her too badly?  She's a lot like me 5 years ago.  A crappy job, a crappy car.  Too much of a fixer-upper?

Or am I just comfortable feeling superior?  Do I feel superior?  

Actually, in most of my relationships, I was the one being cared for.  

I was the child in the relationship.

She's a mother of young children, and she loves me - but doesn't want to mother me.  

I'm going to follow this where it leads.

These seem like normal fears.  I'm going to watch the next year very closely.

So used to inappropriate relationships with inappropriate women that I don't trust something regular and good.

I want to be the man that she sees in me - a strong, smart, sexy, lumberjack of a man.  

And I guess I don't want to change her.  I want to help her get a better job in the same arena - which she wants.

I want us to lose weight together - which she wants too - and explore the world together. 

I'm gonna keep it going.  

What would be red flags?  What would be evidence that would disprove the null hypothesis that it's good love and a long-term prospect?

1. Starts asking for money.

2. Pressures me to move in quickly.

3. Starts pushing her children to call me Dad, de-emphasizes the real dad's role.

4. Depression that she doesn't treat or acknowledge.

5. Doesn't keep her job.

6. Any other signs of co-dependency.

7. Controlling behaviors.

8. Neglect or rough treatment of her children.

9. Not respecting my boundaries.

10. Inability to deal with negative emotions, difficult situations like an adult.


This is some serious reflecting.  Thanks for being a forum where thoughts can be expressed in a supportive environment.


Positive PS: I look good today.  Like a sexy lumberjack who solves crimes.

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Thanks, @WorkInProgress - that's a really good site!  

Entry 6: Sleep and Setbacks

Sleep is my new drug.  8 hours.  9 hours.  10 freaking hours.  My mind is an entirely different neighborhood.  

My inner critic is more quiet, the thoughts are more fluid, inner strength more available.  Is this what normal feels like?

AWESOME NEWS! I didn't game at all the last few days.  True, it's been so busy, but also, I've resisted.  

I put my controllers away.  I've even got my roommate on board with gaming reduction.

Found new shows to watch, new classes to study for, books to read, and then, just moments of silence.

The emptiness is... tough.  The emptiness is ... empty.  Duh!  The emptiness is scary, boring, enraging, depressing.  The emptiness is ultimately okay.  It's just that coming out of chaos and noise, it's jarring.  

My comfort zone will grow.  Soon, I will be meditating again.  

BAD NEWS! Not responding to the new treatments.  That's 7 months and counting for the surgical wound that won't go away.

Gonna start looking for second opinions.  This is so hard to bear sometimes.  

I'm a grown man taking sponge baths cuz I can't get wet.  Sigh.  I feel gross.

Life is mixed like this.  Success, failure, forward, back, clarity, confusion, loss, love, heartbreak.

I should meditate on this swirling.  I would like to leave this endless wheel of ups and downs, or to bear them with equal dignity.

A sage who knows this, the Buddha says, can be happy even in the midst of hell.

Listening to: Ethereal Pop on Pandora.

Mood: Ranged from upbeat to righteous anger to frustration to coping.  Outlook: deep breath, cultivate hope.  Hold my head high and jaw tight.

Everyone knows the real tragedy of January 20, 2017.  No need to say it.

Thousands of miles away, a madman comes to power.  He's not the first, hopefully he won't be the last.

Back in my sphere, learning to live again without my ex, in a new place, with a challenging condition.

I don't believe in gods, and I will admit that sometimes life is harder without that to lean on.

I have to just believe and hope that things will be okay.  I have to believe that I can cope and succeed.

Word of the day: Equanimity: 

In Buddhismequanimity (upekkhā, upekṣhā) is one of the four sublime attitudes and is considered:

Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality's transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as "abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will."

I had no idea, but should have suspected, that this was important.  The other 3 sublime attitudes?

Joy.  Compassion, Loving-Kindness.  + Equanimity.

Another term that I like: Nukekiru - the art of getting out of your own way.

When I quit smoking, I had epic battles.  I wished I could just end it without the struggle, but I couldn't... until I did.  

Part of me wanted the drama, the struggle, the epic-ness.  

That's what I loved about improv.  All drama.  All epic.  Nothing but struggle.  My whole life was fighting against the order of society, development, the life-cycle, normal progression, common sense, decency, justice, god-belief, hetero-normative, neo-phobic traditions.

I also wanted and desperately did not want a big-boy job.

I suppose I can return to improv, not when it is a last resort of a screaming and protesting lunatic, but when it is the joyful expression of a happy man, or perhaps an outlet for the dis-happiness of a mostly happy man.

There are futures and paths to consider...  fatherhood?  step-fatherhood is more likely.  Passive income?  Real estate?  Another job?  Another city? Another state, more likely.  A career in counseling?  Another degree?  PhD?  LPC?  both? Neither?  

The days will come, time slipping faster and faster.  Will I rise above?  Choose discipline, focus, bravery in the face of adversity, injustice, loss, and ultimately, death?  

Even if my consciousness were transferred to a machine, I would still die.  Can I live with this in mind - but not morbidly.  Seriously - yet lightly?  Can I be a cheerful warrior?  I am this for my students, my loved ones.  

I would like to stop analyzing others and start working on myself.  Stop trying to change the world and start from me and work out.

No more Trump.  Just my rooms.  No more comparisons.  Just my work, the siddha - the holy work of just being alive.

No more struggles.  Accept that I am changing.  Say goodbye to electronic distractions.  Embrace childish things like art and laughter.  Abandon childish things like self-pity.  Embrace childish things like touch and curiosity.  Abandon childish things like short-term thinking.

The butterfly must bid farewell to the caterpillar.  Yes, he loses the slow life on the ground.  The safety of the slow and steady.  But look what he gets in return?

As Chuang-Tzu said, last night I had dream I was a butterfly.  Am I a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man?


Positive PS: Inbox zero is a wonderful place to be.


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Entry 7: Strength of the Sublime 

There comes a time when you have to trust yourself.  All of us have struggled with ourselves to make changes.  

Some of you have had to defy the wishes of friends, of partners, of authority, to succeed.  That's a huge risk.

I made a decision to modify the treatments I was receiving.  On their program, I hurt, I couldn't bathe normally, I couldn't move.

It wasn't working.  They were going to give up and send me to surgery.  Again.  My 5th surgery for the same thing.

I made a decision to trust my experience in the medical field.  To trust my body.  

I've had hopes dashed before.  Prematurely thought it was better.  Crushing reversals.  

Just like freaking out too soon, I am prone to early celebration.  

I remember the twin illusions of Taoism: victory and defeat.  Of every thing, ask: "Is that so?"

For now, I am 75% healed.  The doctor validated my approach.  Taking care of myself works.

[Huge sigh of relief]

Part of my health is avoiding mindless gaming, mindless drinking, mindless screen time.

Some people believe that leaders and heroes make the most difference, but a Confucian would say that to change a nation,

Start with the person.  This is how I will find forgiveness for the past.  This is how I can fight for the future.  

This is how I tie these to the present.

Take care of myself.  Not in an Ayn Randian, me-first-at-all-costs super-egoism.  But a proper priority on self-care, self-compassion, self-loving-kindness.

I spent so much time analyzing others, getting outraged, advising others on what to do, finding fault in others. 

Time to re-focus.  It's hard to play defense at work when I sincerely want approval and to be liked. But then I get taken advantage of.

It's hard to say no to people.  It's hard to know what's drama and what's a genuine problem.  What will get better with time and what will get worse and what can't be changed at all?

I'm happy, believe it or not.  Thriving is about coping with stress - and they don't tell you that higher goals mean more stress to cope and adapt to, not less.

I find myself with a frown or in tension and I think: "Equanimity."  I will ride these waves.  

Do I think I am winning?  Losing?  I am just being and coping.  



PS- I grew a beard.  Watch out, dad.



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Entry 8: Deep Tissue

Celebrities often live trivial existences.  However, they've got one thing right.  Sometimes, you just need a day at the spa.

Yep.  I'm a man, and I got a massage.  Not the sleazy kind.  The special, super-yogi kind that pulverizes your fascia and ligaments and rebuilds you a fresh clone of your formerly stressed-out self.

I'm floating on a cushion of relaxation, and if I hadn't eat too much at lunch, I'd be at perfection.  Oh well.

While I'm releasing the tensions and toxins of my physical body, I'm also in the therapy gym, excavating and decluttering the baggage of the past.

This isn't even my final form!

Now that I am not consumed with games and addictions, there's time to create my adult identity.  Late, but who cares?  

Like Gandalf, I suppose I'll arrive precisely when I mean to.

Now that I've got space and some health, it's time to re-commit to physical and spiritual practices that will serve as a platform for the new year and my identity as I enter mid-life.

That's right, dear Readers, I'm closer to 40 than 20.  Or 30 for that matter.  Time to make new mistakes.  Do harder things.  Take better care.

Here's my ideal - maybe unrealistically so - weekday:

6:15 - wake

6:30-7:15 - morning yoga and/or meditation

7:15-7:30 - shower, change, 

7:40 - leave for work

5:15 - home from work

5:30-6:30 - unwind, eat, protein

6:30 - 7:30 - digest, watch a show, read

7:30-8:30 - gym or other personal development time

Bed by 10.  Earlier if desired.

This is reasonable.  I hate having to get up early but I'm just too tired after the workday.  I have to give up that fight.  

There's just no gas in the tank.

Next step - actually get up early and do yoga.  

Do or do not - there is no try.


PS. No matter what happens, you're probably gonna be ok - Louis C.K.


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I get up very early too (but I am somewhat forced too because of traffic). The Thing that helped me the msot to get awake fast is to drink 3 Glasses of water with 15min breaks in between. Seems like your Body is pretty dehydrated after not getting liquids for around 8hours of sleep time. No idea why I didn't started this way earlier but whatever it works.

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@WorkInProgress, thanks for the tip.  I'll up my morning water - I think the 2 cups of coffee aren't helping the hydration problem, either.

Entry 9: Acquiescence and Acceptance

Sick for days, so many ways, I'm achin' now, I'm achin' now.  Times like these, I need release, please show me how, please show me how... to get right."

- The Black Keys, "Tighten Up"

Any new habit or purpose is tested.  The Universe challenges our intentions.  It's nothing personal.  Just business. Order and entropy.  

Equanimity, balancing on the tides of success, failure, fate and chance, is not just a hallmark card.  It's not just for the old, the philosophers, the perfect yogis.

It's for me.  Good news on the healing front.  Success.  Now, a terrible cold.  Setback.  I legitimately worry I am immune-compromised.

Went to the gym twice last week.  Got great sleep.  Wonderful dates with new girlfriend.  Big projects on time at work.  Good nutrition, even meditated once or twice.  Almost no gaming.

Getting sick again feels like punishment - but that's not true, it's just allergies or sick children touching my desk.  Getting well feels like a blessing - it is, but it's the result of adjustments, hope, nutrition, and focus.

Every time I feel like I'm winning the war, the universe fires back.  Solution?  Stop being at war.  Acquiescence is the word of the day.

I accept radically that existence is precarious and every day a pathogen tries to test me - ah / Every day madness tries to end me - ah

I'm a motherfucking starboy.  :)

One day it hit me that Zen was a psychological immune system.  Thoughts are monitored, questioned, and aberrant ones destroyed, benign ignored, nutritious speedily escorted to vital areas.  

I like the idea of the little "i" vs. the big "I" of the ego.  Cultivating a patient, observing "witness" consciousness.  I suppose that since I'm really a colony of millions and trillions of cells and fungus and flora and fauna, I'm never acting alone.  I suppose since I'm tied energetically to the rest of the planet and cosmos, that I'm not really separate.  It really would be wrong to take too much credit or blame for anything.

On the other hand, I think it would be wasteful not to savor this life and to help out while I'm here.  

My fantasy of simple living:

Smaller home, fewer things.  It's comfortable, clean, easy to maintain.  Simple garden, a few staple crops, a greenhouse.  Some chickens.  We live outside a town.  The air is fresh.  We are part of co-ops and get fresh local foods.  A rich social life, helping out others with labor, with their children, with big life events, with planting and harvesting.  Not anything close to farming, but a life near the dirt.  I still have a big screen TV, it's just not the star of my living room.

I like the idea of children.  I have space and time to flex and think with yoga, meditation.  I take long walks with the children.  We read books and draw in the evenings. We share our dreams in the mornings.  I have lost 50 pounds that I didn't need.  It's just dead weight.  I am kind to myself, my wife, to others.  I correspond with my friends, classmates, mentors.  I write profusely.  It feels good to unload the brain.  I paint for fun.  

I still work.  I choose my jobs carefully.  I make 70 or 80 mid career, and I make it go far.  Planned vacations.  I take surfing lessons on Maui every other year.  I don't succumb to workaholism.  If I am clever, I can work from home.  

I am a mentor to the young and a spiritual teacher in my old age, even if I just have one student, myself.  I continue to youthen.  I embrace the balding-ness.  I embrace that time leaves wisdom in its wake.  My beard is badass.  My breathing is masterful.  I laugh every day.

I work my way through poetry, philosophy, psychology.  I keep learning new words.  I learn new moves in the kitchen and in the bedroom.  I drink wine and sing songs on the weekends.  We have a fire and dance like nerds on clear nights.  All around there is the smell of tasty things.

Each decade, I have more memories, fewer things.  More happiness, fewer regrets.  I become a morning person, a day person, a night person.

It feels good to be alive.  No matter where I go, I will cultivate kindness towards myself.


PS- My father had this dream, too.  Will I be able to reach it?


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