Young

At one point I was stronger
I could see the world in front of me
Spread wide and waiting
I was ignorant of nerves
Head down and angry
It was fear transformed and made useful
I was on fire
Moving constantly
But inconsequentially

The little weights add up
I kept putting more on my back
Confident the anger would never abandon me
Confident there would always be a willingness to fight
Never realizing how easy it is to be tired

My legs have given out
I’m losing
You never start a fight you don’t think you can win
And doubt is my new currency
It gives me power but wears me down
Making my bones weak
My ligaments snap
I’m paralyzed and useless
An idea dominates me
Lifts me
Beats me
Destroys parts
Rebuilds others
Shifting until I’m unrecognizable
I’m writing novels, burning them and starting over
Every day
How long will the parameters hold?

Young

Pardon my rant, but…

eccentricenergy

I’ve noticed a disturbing behavior lurking around our society, it’s something I feel is very much perpetuated by the media; they never say it out right, but so often there seems to be this underlying tone that implies that in order to have a true, soul-touching, meaningful, connection with another human being they must also be your perfect match, your soul-mate, and more specifically that this type of connection with humanity must be confined to a romantic bond…That it is not enough to recognize that a piece of yourself finds solace in some aspect of another, as if this is meaningless unless they could potentially fill the ‘partner’ slot in your life.

The truth is, and I do think that many people really do know this, that you can connect on a meaningful level with people half your age, people twice your age, those with different beliefs, with different religions…

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Pardon my rant, but…

No Story: What I See

I feel age creeping up on me whenever I sit still. And age only matters because of its proximity to failure. Another day, another year, and who am I now? Anyone different from last year? Any meaningful progress made? I guess I sell myself on the illusion of movement. I walk in place. Or I run from doubt by smothering it in strange concepts. Purpose and worth and meaning and the fear of missing all those targets again, falls away as differential equations move in. As conceptual analysis moves in. I make something real into an idea. I can have all the ideas I want.

But I walk, too. I walk and watch the world moving along in an unnervingly smooth manner. People operating like incredibly well designed robots. Doing jobs. Completing tasks. Keeping themselves alive better than I can. Why? I wouldn’t be able to answer that question. But they drift along. Doors open and close. A concept is exchanged for a good, then consumed. Coffee is bought. Put in cups with tops. I sip mine at an outside table. Wondering how to function. I worry about when the robots will rebel. I’ve seen it in movies and read about it in books. Maybe I’ll belong then. When everyone else is as openly searching as I am. And conclude that there are no answers.

Downtown is excited. It’s alive. For some reason, that means more than words on a page, usually. Even removed from it, the evidence of existing reassures me of purpose. I don’t know why seemingly random motion convinces me. I hold on to it. Become part of the human race. I smile at the happy people talking too loudly, laughing, momentarily not worried about death. But I see a car jumping the curb. I see a woman lashing out. I see a man who doesn’t understand consequences. I see it all go away. Unpredictable. I move on. A nice couple. Pretty or ugly. Unconcerned. They’re capable of shutting out everything beyond the two of them.

I walk to campus still sipping my coffee. I walk like I’m in a hurry. So does every one around me. I don’t recognize any of them and I’ve been here for 3 and a half years.

I’d like a name someone knows.

No Story: What I See

No Story

I walked the length of the park, turned around and came back. You and Rachel watched me and leaned against the stroller. I got back with an odd smile on my face. Tired or something. Not present somehow. We walked to the cafe around the corner and sat outside. I went in and order three of the same thing. Same size. Neither of you said you wanted anything. I assumed. The cups were placed on the counter. I was one hand short. I looked out the window for help, but you were both talking to the baby. She was looking off into the distance. Reaching into the empty space. I related too much. I grabbed two cups and walked out. Set them on the table and returned for the last one. I brought sugar and milk out, too. I poured in the sugar then drank half my cup. I refilled it to the brim with milk. Drank another half and set it to the side.
It started to lightly rain and the baby was laughing. I started laughing, too. She kicked her legs and swung her arms. Attacking the rain. She wasn’t passively experiencing life like I was. I kicked. I laughed. She didn’t understand a thing about the rain. I know little more than she does. I have a few chemical names in my head. Evaporation. Condensation. I’ve learned. Passively, for too many years. I wasn’t interested. Nothing makes me as happy as rain makes her.
You and Rachel moved under the awning. Pulling the baby’s chair with you. She reached as far as she could to feel the rain. Her jacket was becoming soaked through. I moved my chair in front of her. Talked to her about philosophy. She listened intently and enjoyed the rain falling on her hand.

No Story

Zoo Trips, Bum Knee

Today is the first day my knee doesn’t hurt since I turned it a week and four days ago. I’m having trouble identifying exactly how good it feels because my entire left leg is sore from walking with such a pronounced limp. Calf and thigh are both have sharp muscle strain pain. In addition to that, my knee is super tired still. It hasn’t been bent much for all this time, so movement is taking some reacclimating. I haven’t tried to see what I can do – how far it can bend and how much weight it can take – for fear of sending myself back to square one, but signs are good.

Signs are especially good considering that I went to the zoo with my niece and friends on Monday. I walked with an exaggerated limp and wasn’t near my typical levels of excitement and energy, but I didn’t collapse at any point. I was wearing a brace that forced the limp since it can’t be easily bent, but even so my leg was tired from the start. It’s not as bad as coming off a few months laid up, as I’ve experienced with previous injuries, but it’s surprising how much a week destroys your fitness. I’ve walked and biked almost constantly for the last 7 years (and played sports before that). I haven’t been down for this long in all those years. Try to keep your head still for an entire day and see how much your neck hurts.

Even without a leg, I forced out some activity. Since I’m not in pain today, I think it was a good idea. The zoo was fun but my niece is only 10 months old so her interest varied dramatically. Being a holiday, the zoo was uncomfortably crowded. (The reason we went on a holiday is long and boring, but suffice to say it was forced.) It was difficult to get close to the exhibits and we needed to if we expected a baby to find the zoo interesting. The few of the more obvious animals – the chimps, elephants and alligators – kept her attention pretty well. But when the animals were hard to see, she didn’t search them out and looked at other things, like the water or people passing by. Assuming she could process all these things, she might have thought a zoo is a place to watch a bunch of weird people congregate. A little unfortunate but she seemed to enjoy the trip, regardless of how many animals she saw.

Changing Gears.

While at the zoo, my friend and I started talking about displaying animals in such a way. It’s important to note that zoos vary in quality, and when I talk about good or bad aspects, I expect there to be some standard level of care. Dismal upkeep and straight out abuse are obviously bad. But in more subtle aspects, I wonder how to feel about zoos. On one hand, it is nearly impossible to match the type of life an animal would experience in the wild. Zoos may do their best to increase enrichment, it’s never going to get there. That’s a shame but it doesn’t necessarily mean the conditions are horrible. Most people have seen Black Fish or have heard about it, but it’s rarely so simple as this is wholly bad and that is wholly good. Many zoos are highly concerned with conservation and science. There are reintroduction attempts. There is rehabilitation. There is breeding. There is public education. And there is science. Frans de Waal, for example, is one of the most respected primatologists in the world and he worked at a zoo for ages when he was writing some of his great papers. Important research is done there. Not just for curiosities sake either. Learning animal behavior can help conservation efforts by focusing on what specifically would help the animals the most.
Zoos also allow the general public, including me, to see these animals in person. Any social psychologists out there know how important it is to interact with what otherwise would be an abstract. The world beyond us hard to make more than a theory. Seeing the animals up close makes them more real than TV could ever hope to do.
Sometimes the animals look sad while wandering around their enclosures and it makes me question the existence of zoos. But I really don’t know how much of that are my attempts to anthropomorphize these animals and how much is real.

This is where some research would have helped, but we were walking around a zoo which isn’t the time to pull up scholar.google

 

 

DSC_1045

Had some Simba moments so she could get above the crowds.

Zoo Trips, Bum Knee

Poetry

There’s a lot of shit in here. I guess that’s how it goes with poetry. You read 50 in a sitting and wonder how many impacted you and you realize it doesn’t really matter. As long as one gets you somewhere. Takes you home or back in time or into your future. Either way, you’ve got something out of 50 pages of a collection in a book. Better than a lot of fiction. A lot of fiction takes you into a fantasy which can be fun. And it can take you somewhere more important. But that’s not as common. Give me a hundred poems, with 98 being shit and I’ll say it’s successful. Hopefully the ratio is better than that, but truly good ones are rare. Maybe I’m exceptionally dense and I don’t get it. I make no claims of sophistication. But give me one and I’ll be happy. One that takes me somewhere close to truth. Serious or a joke, I don’t care. Love or hate or fear, I don’t care. Pile on the shit as high as you can. I’ll take my one and be satisfied. If you write that one, thank you. You’ve done something special if not entirely difficult. We aren’t laying bricks after all.

Poetry

We are a bit obsessed with ourselves, aren’t we?

Not to say I’m judging, I am among the worst offenders. It all makes sense given the amount of time we spend with ourselves, but I worry sometimes we get hung up on the irrelevant. I suppose relationships are interesting, but only in the way dreams are interesting. You may have had the most amazing, intense, suspenseful, cinematic, beautiful dream of all time, but chances are you can’t relate the story to me the way it happened. Dream logic gets in the way of it being a compelling story. In the same vein, you may have the most amazing, confusing, beautiful, complex, loving relationship of all time, but chances are it’ll sound like a bad soap opera storyline or young adult book when you impart on me your tale. That’s not to say there aren’t interesting aspects, but we seem to get obsessed. Almost every thought is filtered through some device that turns it into a personal drama. Not necessarily a negative drama, but somehow concerning some relationship or another. It gets boring after a while. It’d be like going through your life only reading a single genre of book or music. I love a good Zeppelin song but you have to give me some garage punk every so often. But whereas limiting ourselves to one type of music is a fault of our own making, being obsessed with ourselves isn’t. Everything in our lives is the most important thing to us because it’s happening to us.

“If he was to lose his little finger tomorrow, he would not sleep tonight; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own.”
– Adam Smith

It’s difficult to really hammer that way of thinking into our heads to make it second nature, and maybe some people don’t want to, but it’s hard to reason out of. (If you care at all about reasoning, and many people don’t. But if that’s the case, you aren’t involved in this conversation and your opinions are irrelevant regarding most things in life.) What’s clear is that those scales aren’t balanced. A social rejection will ruin my day, and maybe my week, but thousands dying might get a retweet. Yes, it would be impossible to even the scale but adjusting it wouldn’t be too bad.

I think the cliches (or what some people call wisdom) like, “It could be worse.” or “Be thankful for what you have because others aren’t so lucky.” have it a bit backwards. They tend to focus on us, better off, people. Sure, be thankful for what you have, but how about we turn the cliches to the other people involved. Instead of wasting that empathy on ourselves we might consider people who truly need it. In our own lives, we think about our problems and we try to fix them, sometimes making them worse in the process, but we’re trying. I won’t deny that’s necessary for a good life, there needs to be local fun and happiness, but hopefully some of that attention can be spared. Some can be turned to the hundred millions in various states of ruin. With that attention shifted we can try harder to fix things a little. (I refer back to my post about being ethical. It’s not always fun to think about child labor or animal abuse, but making small changes to what we consume, and how, can really improve things. For instance, there are tons of clothing companies (and sites like teespring) that donate money when you buy clothes. Or even just using smile.amazon.com for things you were going to buy anyway.)

We are a bit obsessed with ourselves, aren’t we?