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Religion & Philosophy
By MillMan (Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 04:37:51 AM EST) (all tags)
Millman examines himself on the couch.


Yesterday I woke up with zero energy, had zero energy at work, got home and had zero energy. With this zero energy, my future plans feel like a pipe dream. This is bad.

Since I've returned each week has been a little worse than the last. I keep waiting to find the bottom and I'm still not there. I'm not depressed but it's only a matter of time if something does not change. I've recently started to slip into negative territory.

"Balance" in this culture is a joke. If your job is not specifically fulfilling, it is a gravity well sucking your mental health and it takes tremendous amounts of energy to escape. Work to live? Boy, I hope you've got some amazing hobbies and relationships.

When I got back I knew it was going to be a race between my job dragging me down and getting enough good things in my life fast enough to counter the job. Considering the pace I was capable of even before I started losing energy, it was pretty clear I wasn't going to maintain myself where I wanted. What I've done outside of work amounts to getting the motorcycle thing underway and a fair bit of dating. Good things for sure, but not enough. Compared to what I could accomplish on a daily basis while traveling - it amounts to very little.

What's frustrating is that with all the learnings from the travels - insight on how to live, what makes me happy, how to understand and deal with my emotions without the same emotions biasing that understanding, and much deeper understanding of what this culture does and does not offer and its myths - here I am yet again, lacking the energy to extricate myself. And the fact that I didn't see this coming when I returned - or was unwilling to face it (I needed money for rent in an economy with no jobs!) - makes me sad.

Paraphrasing something I wrote on mefi yesterday: This culture teaches us that if we're well provided for materially, that not only should we not concern ourselves with happiness, fulfillment, and general mental health, we should be ashamed to do so. If you want to learn how to live and be happy, you have to figure it out for yourself. I understood this intellectually many years ago, and understood it emotionally while traveling (by experiencing the value of learning how to be happy), but as it's a negative lesson, I've only examined it recently when my mood turned negative.

Watching people follow this tenet by ritually abusing themselves for their paycheck is a daily out of body experience. I see a lot of my coworkers in a completely different light than I did before - along with people on the street for that matter. We invest a lot of energy in appearing normal, but now I can see behind that curtain in a way I couldn't before and I'm being exposed to huge amounts of psychological ugliness that I am not sure how to defend myself against. It would be very easy to get sucked back into that world and retreat to my previous defense - shutting myself down emotionally.

For sure there are plenty of people not in this boat, but they aren't a majority. But at least they are around to find as friends. And thank jebus that the culture does allow some space to avoid it. Nor do I feel shorted. Italians might "know how to live," but have you ever met someone who is extremely passionate in the wrong direction? That could have been me.

I'm never again going to plumb the depths I did in my late teens and periods of my 20s (although obligatory "there but by the grace of god go I"). My new knowledge of how good life can be by itself is enough to prevent that. I have been "for real" happy - not the faux "life is pretty good, I can't complain" happy. In this culture that translates into "materially secure but feeling empty inside." Now I know what I can aim for, and it's worth the effort.

I've given a lot of thought to what it takes to enjoy life in a sedentary urban setting with a regular job. The ability to make friends and get into relationships is probably the biggest skill needed for any lifestyle. Next to that, though, I think you need to have a kinetic, hyperactive energy about yourself in order to squeeze in some happy moments multiple times a week. Drinks, socializing, all that. Part of why traveling works so well for me as a lazy person is that it automatically immerses me in "the awesome" versus me having to continually generate it myself. So I wake up in Istanbul at 9am, observe the Bosphorous from the roof of the hostel as I eat breakfast, I take a long walk to nowhere in particular, take photos, say hi to kids I can't speak to, peruse some museum I ran into. What did I do there? I didn't do shit. It all happened to me without effort. And it was epic.

Back home - little evenings of fun require a lot of planning and effort. Over time it feels like I'm just amusing myself with shiny things until the day I die - this weekend we're going to the museum, next weekend we're going dancing, next weekend we're going to this restaurant. Travel is even more of a continual flash in the pan experience of novelty - but unlike city life, the whole of travel exceeds the sum of its parts by orders of magnitude. What I think this means is that even if I didn't need to work but I was confined to the city excepting weekends and three weeks of "vacation" a year - traveling would still win easily. This isn't the end of the world - I think if I pursue my long term plans and come out with a job better suited to me, life in the city can still be pretty good.

So dating, yes, I have been doing a decent amount of internets dating. It would be nice if I had a good circle of friends here in SF through which I could meet single women but, uh, well, I'm, like, going to work on that. With a kind of bland everyday life, success or lack thereof with women is the only thing modulating my mood, and it's probably the reason I'm sitting in this local minima.

A few weekends ago I tanked something I had going on with a girl because the attraction level wasn't there. But there was sex, and touching, and kissing, and and now there isn't, and now that I'm not traveling anymore, my male sex drive is once again a whiney back seat driver who never, ever shuts up. If anything I was more interested in sex while I was traveling, but being otherwise fulfilled, periods when sex was lacking weren't remotely a problem. [A shocking experience of the sort only a male can understand.] So that, and this other thing.

I'm attracted to bisexual women with feminine bodies but with a hint of androgyny. The attraction is part mystery for sure, as anyone whose mental space covers a broader range than mine automatically gains my interest. Mostly, though, I think of myself as just a bit to the masculine side of gender neutral and I go for women that are just to the feminine side of gender neutral. Some recent superficial examples - indifference to physical appearance, a highly analytical mind, and a sex drive that runs independent of the state of the dishes in the kitchen.

So a few weeks ago I had a coffee date with a "bisexual woman with a feminine body and a hint of androgyny." We met at my favorite coffee shop and sat down next to each other on a couch. Recent PhD in psychology, analytical thinker, pretty, hints of a dark-ish past constructed into something functional as an adult, and a dash of vulnerability and geeky social awkwardness. Kind of firing on all cylinders. She wanted to hear about my travels and I got very excited and animated while talking about them. She laughed at my stories and dumb jokes. Nice!

We naturally turned to some darker topics - such as suicide. I mentioned my favorite magazine article of all time - on the subject of the golden gate bridge as a suicide Mecca - and hack-quoted my favorite part of the article on what often happens to people who are past the point of no return but are not yet dead:

“It seemed like the fall lasted forever,” Alarab said afterward. “I was praying for God to give me another chance.” The fall broke both of Alarab’s ankles and three of his ribs and collapsed his lungs, but he lived—becoming one of only twenty-six people to survive the plunge from the Golden Gate. “I’ll never put my life on the line again,” he said at the time.

Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before. Ken Baldwin and Kevin Hines both say they hurdled over the railing, afraid that if they stood on the chord they might lose their courage. Baldwin was twenty-eight and severely depressed on the August day in 1985 when he told his wife not to expect him home till late. “I wanted to disappear,” he said. “So the Golden Gate was the spot. I’d heard that the water just sweeps you under.” On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. “I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”

Kevin Hines was eighteen when he took a municipal bus to the bridge one day in September, 2000. After treating himself to a last meal of Starbursts and Skittles, he paced back and forth and sobbed on the bridge walkway for half an hour. No one asked him what was wrong. A beautiful German tourist approached, handed him her camera, and asked him to take her picture, which he did. “I was like, ‘Fuck this, nobody cares,’ ” he told me. “So I jumped.” But after he crossed the chord, he recalls, “My first thought was What the hell did I just do? I don’t want to die.”

I like this article even more now, having recently gone through a bunch of narrative adjustments in quick succession. But to go through them in less than a second and be dead three seconds later...wow.

We moved back to happier subjects and talked until the coffee shop closed. I asked her to go dancing with me the next weekend and she said yes.

My BS detectors were tripped, though, and they turned out to be correct - she didn't respond to me after I set the date up. One of those "not only can I not say no to your face I can't say no using plain language like 'I'll have to check my schedule'" things. Fine, she wasn't into me. But, ouch. "See this amazing person? Not yours." It was enough to tank the rest of my week.

Shrug. I have a date with a raver girl next week.

Hmm. I feel better already. Now get off my couch  before I delete this whole thing.

< Stupid Shit I do to Amuse myself | Etch-a-Sketch Watch >
Therapy | 67 comments (67 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Before you delete... by Metatone (4.00 / 5) #1 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 07:31:01 AM EST
thing about culture - it's the water we swim in... when you're out of the water you can see what it's like, but in it, it is the environment.
You need to create reminders of what you saw about the water while travelling... and what you saw about yourself...
I've been in the UK for a long while now it seems, I've lost touch with some of my insights, but the ones I made an effort to preserve remain.
You have to make those totems...


comically by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #14 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:24:43 PM EST
as music is very emotional, the pop music I heard over and over everywhere on the trip (other than in India and Turkey) brings back a lot of good things. So this is what I'm stuck with:

Poker Face - Lady Gaga
Just Dance - Lady Gaga
Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
MGMT - Time to Pretend

Needless to say it's strange to associate Lady Gaga with some of the best memories of my life. But I kind of want to give her a hug.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
What do you think of GaGa's telephone video? by frog (2.00 / 0) #52 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 03:04:13 PM EST
http://www.iviewtube.com/videos/132433/lady-gaga-telephone-feat.-beyonce-(official-music-video-premiere)


[ Parent ]
I like it for the most part by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #55 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 03:31:38 PM EST
The "pussy wagon" easter egg feels way out of place though.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
But you don't feel that... by frog (2.00 / 0) #62 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 09:38:27 PM EST
The video taking itself to a place of poisoning a whole room of innocent people and the intentional set up of one "guilty person" might be a little violent perhaps or maybe a dangerous message on how to handle a bad guy? It was very natural born killers.

http://www.myvideo.de/watch/6903503/Sean_Paul_Press_It_Up
http://www.mtv.com/videos/jay-sean/411713/down.jhtml#artist=510062



[ Parent ]
more seriously by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #40 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:18:03 AM EST
yeah, I need to remember this.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
Yeah... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #43 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 04:07:53 AM EST
it's really important to retain the links with your travelling self. The music is a good thing. Or would be if it wasn't Lady Gaga... ;-)

Maybe it'd be good to do something with your photos -  I know they are on flickr, but  if you can assemble them in such a way to remind you of what you've learned... 

Also, the key for me was to keep in touch with an international viewpoint - not just the people I'd met on my travels (that's a good start, but not always practical) but also just other people who have a different view on the culture I'm living in... 


[ Parent ]
That's not a bad idea by ad hoc (2.00 / 0) #46 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 09:52:54 AM EST
Your next project: create a Lulu coffee table book.
--
[ Parent ]
I have a photo shrine on my bedroom wall by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #48 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 12:58:57 PM EST

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
and by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #50 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:49:46 PM EST
Facebook makes contact trivially easy. A number of the people I met in SE Asia in particular are off traveling again so I get to relive it vicariously. There are four people I met on the trip that I am in pretty frequent contact with.

About a month ago I met up with a Hungarian woman I met in Laos who ended up turning a one week stop in SF into one year (we're friends on facebook but I didn't know she was here until recently as she rarely posts). Reliving the trip with someone who knows exactly what I'm talking about both with the trip and as someone from a different culture was probably the best thing to happen to me so far this year.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
husi needs a 'like' button. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #51 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 02:23:02 PM EST
I know you know this stuff... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #53 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 03:05:08 PM EST
 I mention it just out of solidarity - these are things that others in our cultures don't do... or don't have to do to stay sane, at least...

[ Parent ]
right by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #54 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 03:27:16 PM EST
the purpose is emotional therapy, not information transmission.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
Exactly! by clock (4.00 / 3) #2 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 08:33:35 AM EST
This culture teaches us that if we're well provided for materially, that not only should we not concern ourselves with happiness, fulfillment, and general mental health, we should be ashamed to do so.

i fall into that shit ALL. THE. TIME.  and keep in mind that i have an awesome wife, a fantastic son, and a dog beyond all dogs.  but when my work rings hollow (as it does a lot lately) and i realize how little of my potential i'm fulfilling, i feel guilty.  as though i'm shitting on everything i have because some key things aren't there.  but those things that are missing are really, really IMPORTANT THINGS.

keep swimming.  and VSTFP.


I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

it's sad and scary at the same time by aphrael (4.00 / 3) #19 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:43:24 PM EST
how easy it is for failure at work to blow up into a feeling of uselessness and despair.

from my perspective, you shouldn't feel guilty: you're working on making it better, and that's the most anyone, including you, can expect.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Interesting by jimgon (4.00 / 2) #31 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 07:58:14 PM EST
In this post that exactly the line that caught my attention the most. 

It's something that can be hard to discuss with someone because so many people don't understand what is meant by wanting something more. 




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Have you considered an iPad? by georgeha (4.00 / 3) #3 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 09:44:57 AM EST
or spawning, nothing like those cute little time and money sinks to make you nostalgic for a more carefree time.


You just may be ready to take the red pill. by lolwhat (4.00 / 4) #4 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 09:51:35 AM EST
Ask yourself why the fulfilling jobs don't pay shit, while the soul-sucking jobs make bank. Ask yourself why the message from everyone - especially government - tells you to consume everything in sight - but not produce anything meaningful.
--
If cigarette packs are required to have pictures of diseased lungs, college brochures should be required to have photos of grads working at Starbucks.
self-medicate by sasquatchan (4.00 / 2) #5 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 11:09:46 AM EST
it's your only hope.

danger, danger. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #20 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:43:47 PM EST
self-medication in small doses can be helpful.

but taken too far it turns you into a zombie.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Boyish girls by ni (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 11:43:59 AM EST
I'm attracted to bisexual women with feminine bodies but with a hint of androgyny.

Yeah, they're pretty great. You say, though, that you don't see yourself as being very masculine, and I'm not sure that's true for me. I have been surprised in recent years to realize just how classically straight-male I am (I do not mean in terms of sexual orientation, where it's true to moderately lesser extent, but in terms of habits, values, worries, etc). It's nearly embarrassing. So while that may well be the explanation behind your attraction to androgynous women, I doubt it's mine: I am really, for better or worse, quite solidly male.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM

I don't understand this discussion at all by infinitera (4.00 / 2) #7 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 12:00:08 PM EST
You and MillMan seem to, but I have no idea what you're referring to with "masculine", "feminine" and the like. There's certainly socially constructed gender stereotypes.. but that's just it, they're constructed. What gender features are you referring to, and how are you linking them to male or female?

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
I think I agree by littlestar (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 12:03:08 PM EST
Millman didn't ever seem like any kind of girly-man to me! And ni, well, he's ALL man.  ; ) 
*twinkle*twinkle*


[ Parent ]
No problem! by ni (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 12:04:19 PM EST
I was actually addressing millman anyway, conveniently! Don't worry about it.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM
[ Parent ]
I can't by infinitera (4.00 / 2) #24 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:59:50 PM EST
I have unabating interest in epistemology and gender identity is one of the more common manifestations of the topic.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
Then don't play games. by ni (4.00 / 2) #25 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 02:19:47 PM EST
You and MillMan seem to, but I have no idea what you're referring to with "masculine", "feminine" and the like. There's certainly socially constructed gender stereotypes.. but that's just it, they're constructed.

Then you know exactly what I'm referring to. Of course gender is socially constructed! Proclaiming it from the hilltops while feigning a failure to understand makes you sound like a cut-rate Socrates walking out of a first year anthropology course.

The social construction of gender doesn't somehow negate its existence, or make it impossible to communicate using the words (which, to respond as a first year linguistics student would, themselves only exist because of social construction).

What gender features are you referring to, and how are you linking them to male or female?

If you seriously lack the minimum understanding of what traits are associated with gender in western culture necessary to understand what I wrote -- a state only conceivable if you're a !Kung bushman, freshly transplanted here by a rogue social scientist -- I suggest you read any of the tens of thousands of articles written on the subject in the past forty years. It's not my field, and I have no interest in generating dreary amateur analysis.


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry by infinitera (4.00 / 1) #26 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 02:25:06 PM EST
I guess I do have a bushman-like state regarding gender.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
If only more people could say: by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #27 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 03:52:00 PM EST
It's not my field, and I have no interest in generating dreary amateur analysis.

The world would be a better place for it.

[ Parent ]
k by infinitera (4.00 / 1) #29 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 06:12:09 PM EST
But I'm really not sure what provoked this ire. I would like to understand the discussion, and I am not trolling; just a tangent (which is related in my mind, but perhaps nobody else's).

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
No ire on my part. by ambrosen (4.00 / 2) #30 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 07:07:55 PM EST
Sorry, I only quoted that bit of ni's comment because it showed a sentiment that's very rare (including on my part): not feeling the need to jump in if someone else could say it better, or if someone else is already asking the questions you're asking.

I didn't really have an opinion on your position vis-a-vis gender identity, or what I suspect is a miscommunication about definitions. And my own thoughts on the issue are too inchoate to share, which is the reason I'm abstaining.

[ Parent ]
A cups, I think by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 12:08:57 PM EST



[ Parent ]
You fool! by ni (4.00 / 2) #12 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 12:15:13 PM EST
Bra sizes are culturally constructed!


"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM
[ Parent ]
I think they were C cups by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #15 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:26:53 PM EST
brb, I'm going to go weep silently in the bathroom.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
You've spent too much time with boardgamers by georgeha (4.00 / 4) #17 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:31:10 PM EST
if you think C Cups are androgynous.


[ Parent ]
well by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #18 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:34:19 PM EST
Physically, at least, I'm only referring to facial features.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
awesome. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #57 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:40:46 PM EST
being a huge dork, I go to the board gaming conventions (gencon, origins). And it's clear there that the world's standard idea of beauty is no concern of the woman who go, probably because they're outnumbered 20 to 1.


[ Parent ]
i met my husband by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #60 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 06:43:31 PM EST
ok. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #63 Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 09:40:30 AM EST
is this a nonsequitor, or a comment on what I said? if the latter, I don't understand what you're saying.


[ Parent ]
my husband and i met each other by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #65 Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 10:22:33 AM EST
at a party where someone had a bunch of people come over and play board games with one another.

it seemed related.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
well by garlic (2.00 / 0) #66 Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 10:30:11 AM EST
you're husband and yourself are both dudes. While most gamers are dudes, I have no idea how the percentage of gay gamers relates to the general population of gay gamers.


[ Parent ]
who knows by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:16:24 PM EST
I'm a straight male and it feels correct to me to be a straight male. I don't "feel" feminine and I only feel slightly masculine. I'm taking cues from some of the ways I interact with the world and other people that are less culturally constructed than most (my interest in cooking and furniture shopping are not going into the equation, for example). Emotionally I have a stereotypically male brain - so that probably undercuts my claim. I had some interesting chats with a M->F transgendered person when I was in England that have had me thinking about this more in recent months.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
i never felt male by aphrael (4.00 / 2) #21 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:44:36 PM EST
North American life by littlestar (4.00 / 4) #8 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 12:00:35 PM EST
is so hollow. Trying to find  a way to live within it and be whole is difficult, particularly when you have seen and felt a wholeness while traveling. The heaviness of the responsibility of making money to live and eat is so tiresome, particularly because most jobs add nothing (or very little) to our emotional and mental well being or feelings of accomplishment. I think that we all have/do feel this way sometimes/a lot. You have clearly learned so much about yourself, but it is frustrating that although we can see how we are slipping down a hole sometimes, some little thing can just push us deeper even though intellectually we recognise what is going in our irrational brains. I am often frustrated at myself for how little things push me into a mire when I can see the way I should be dealing with it. I share your feelings, thanks for posting, it's nice to feel not alone.
*twinkle*twinkle*


Thank you. by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #16 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:29:03 PM EST

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
is that really unique by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #22 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:45:21 PM EST
The heaviness of the responsibility of making money to live and eat is so tiresome, particularly because most jobs add nothing (or very little) to our emotional and mental well being or feelings of accomplishment.

is that unique to north american culture? i thought it was pretty much a universal for non-hunter/gatherer societies.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
well, no by infinitera (4.00 / 2) #23 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 01:54:46 PM EST
I would say it's unique to societies with alienated labor (which is neither north american nor exclusively capitalist).

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
Time for a summer on a fishing boat, Mr. Gatsby. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #28 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 04:07:19 PM EST
Also - on your excursion . . . it strikes me that you mostly passively took things in, instead of making a change - an impact - on the people and places you visited. I think if you had focused on doing more of that, you wouldn't be in this malaise.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

there's very little as destructive by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #33 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 08:29:17 PM EST
as someone who goes to another part of the world convinced, without listening to the people there or looking around him, that he knows how to solve their problems.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
That's why you do your homework by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #35 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 09:15:15 PM EST
before you leave home, and pick some projects that are soliciting help and won't get you Corried.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
I dunno by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #36 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 11:12:38 PM EST
We spent a few months doing work while we traveled, which I think helped people, and glad I did. When I got home at the end of it I fell into just such a malaise. The work overseas was just English teaching, I don't really have the skill to do heart surgery on orphans. Nevertheless once home the work and my colleagues I was doing seemed rather trivial. There were other worthwhile things tying us down from traveling long term. I have changed to a much more interesting job. But if I look at it seriously, what I do now is still a bit trivial by comparison.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
What you did was cool by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #41 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 03:42:23 AM EST
but the results aren't quite as palpable as a house or a well. Tough to get the same level of satisfaction out of teaching kids a second language, I think.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
It is hard to compete by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #44 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 04:33:47 AM EST
... with the concreteness of a house or well. The reaction on coming home probably depends on the character of the person, but I have heard eg peace corps volunteers going through the same sort of reaction on returning.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
That was intentional by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #37 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:01:11 AM EST
It was a trip into my mind more than a trip to other places. As it turns out I needed the constant blissful happiness and mental stimulation really badly. Once I had enough under my belt to understand what was going on (six months in) and to be able to consider the next thing - what you referred to. I consciously chose not to. I could tell what it was going to take and didn't feel I had the strength, even though "cracking myself open" emotionally with stuff like that is my ultimate goal. So I found my limit, sadly. The trip had a lot of laid-bare realizations.

There is a reason the next go round will involve Spanish lessons and a motorcycle, though. That will be the theme of that trip.

It would have helped a lot but I disagree with your conclusion. If I arrived back with a different living in mind and had the means to pursue it then the past five months might have gone differently.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
err by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #38 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:01:55 AM EST
grammar fail there.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
You seem to have come to terms with it. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #42 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 03:45:55 AM EST
You have many years ahead of you for humanitarian ventures, if you choose to do that.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Engineers without borders by garlic (4.00 / 1) #58 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:43:05 PM EST
is a good (if small) organization.


[ Parent ]
One line here sums up a lot of my feelings lately by jimgon (4.00 / 2) #32 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 08:24:28 PM EST
This culture teaches us that if we're well provided for materially, that not only should we not concern ourselves with happiness, fulfillment, and general mental health, we should be ashamed to do so.

Much like clock I have much to be thankful for and a lot to be happy about, the thing is that it's not enough.  If you read just about anything I write in Facebook from work you can see the general line here.  It's not a depression, but a longingness for something more.  Not sure what that more is, but I know it's out there.  Almost no one I know understands what I mean when I say I want more.  I get responses that I do what I do for my family and that duty to my family should be enough.  I'm made to feel ashamed as you put it to want more.  I want more.




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
i've been trying to find time for this all day by aphrael (4.00 / 2) #34 Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 08:44:37 PM EST
Next to that, though, I think you need to have a kinetic, hyperactive energy about yourself in order to squeeze in some happy moments multiple times a week.

This is an interesting perspective and, honestly, one that is new to me.

My life alternates between kinetic-hyperactive and exhausted-slothful. I know that I'm happier when i'm energetic-kinetic, but I've always assumed that being energetic-kinetic was a symptom, that being high energy was a sign that I was happy and being low energy was a sign that i'm unmotivated and depressive. Your speculation here suggests that maybe I have it backwards; maybe the energy is a cause of happiness, rather than a symptom.

THere's something in your diagnosis that i'm uncertain of, however: it's very easy to use being high energy and constantly busy as a form of avoidance: by keeping yourself occuppied, you ensure that you never have to look at yourself or the world around you, because you always have something to do. How can you tell the difference from (busy as a way of avoiding the question "am i happy") and (busy as a way of ensuring that the answer to the question "am i happy" is "yes")? it seems to me that it can be very, very easy to conflate these two.

Good things for sure, but not enough. Compared to what I could accomplish on a daily basis while traveling - it amounts to very little.

There's a wierd dichotomy to modern western life. It's easy to be frenetically busy, doing things all of the time. But at the same time, in part because we're so busy, in part because there's so much that we are grasping for, and so many demands others are making on us, progress on any given thing is slow.

There's an element to which personal growth is easier when you are on the outside and not embedded, and that may be part of what you are experiencing; but there's also an element to which anything personal is slowed down for people in the working world.

This culture teaches us that if we're well provided for materially, that not only should we not concern ourselves with happiness, fulfillment, and general mental health, we should be ashamed to do so.

I don't agree. I think this culture assumes that if we're provided for materially, we will be happy; but I also see signals that aspiring for personal fullfilment is a normal thing, and that, for example, quitting your job and going to school for a year to get a graduate degree in a useless subject can be honorable. Maybe that's a result of my social network being somewhat counter-culture, or of being in California specifically, but it's a very real thing, and it makes it hard for me to agree with your claim.

If you want to learn how to live and be happy, you have to figure it out for yourself

That's certainly true. I submit two causes: (a) most people don't know how, and so can't teach it; (b) each man's path to happiness is his personal path, and so it's hard to teach ... and can't be taught in any public institution because the people who disagree with whichever path is being taught will scream.

So I wake up in Istanbul at 9am, observe the Bosphorous from the roof of the hostel as I eat breakfast, I take a long walk to nowhere in particular, take photos, say hi to kids I can't speak to, peruse some museum I ran into. What did I do there? I didn't do shit. It all happened to me without effort. And it was epic.

A big part of that, I suspect, is a result of the spontaneity. Workaday life is structured and rigid, and it's hard to have the space to just do something because it sounds like it would be a good idea; but the most joy - for me at least - often comes from exactly that kind of spontaneous eruption.

I don't know if any of this helps you; I don't know if any of it helps me. All I know is ... keeping focus on joy and the beauty of life and the world takes work, hard fucking work, and it's easy to lose, and all we can do is help each other when we can.

Thank you for sharing.

Peace be with you, my friend.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

well by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #39 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:17:39 AM EST
per the first part - a lot of my problem is something I hinted at but didn't state. I have a decent group of friends here but I haven't had what I feel like is a "full" group of friends since I was 24. I have trouble connecting to people and maybe moreso finding people I want to connect to. To me friend making is enigmatic. I've also moved across the country twice and friends often move away, so there is a continual need to make new friends.

I also see signals that aspiring for personal fullfilment is a normal thing

I think California is different than most of the country. It's not as though it's taboo elsewhere, but it isn't encouraged among most people.

each man's path to happiness is his personal path

Much like spirituality. Or gender identity, heh.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
responses by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #45 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 08:51:42 AM EST
haven't had what I feel like is a "full" group of friends since I was 24

J. and I have both had serious problems with this; the last four-five years or so are the first time in my life that I think I've felt like I've had a solid group of friends, and even now I don't have the tribe/pack group of close freinds I really want.

The single most difficult thing in law school for me has watching my 1L cadre develop friendships that - for reasons of time and accessibility - have been closed to me. Sucks, that.

Much like spirituality

Isn't that what we were talking about? (I'm really not being flippant here; it seems to me that the malaise you are feeling is on some level a spiritual one).

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
I like you by ad hoc (4.00 / 1) #47 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:01:08 AM EST
and don't want to see you unhappy.

I hope you work it out.
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long term failure would surprise me. by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #49 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:38:10 PM EST

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
You might enjoy by dmg (2.00 / 0) #56 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:38:33 PM EST
This book.

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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
my lazy man planner by garlic (4.00 / 1) #59 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:56:11 PM EST
is to look at facebook events and go to all the one's my friends go to. Then, if it was cool, friend the band / comic / director / event coordinator and expand the tree. From a start last summer of 1 band, I've expanded the network to have 9-10 nodes, and it just keeps getting larger. This also helps with getting more 'real' friends, vs facebook acquaintences.

works for me.


I like your analytic approach by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #61 Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 07:52:03 PM EST

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
i think I mentioned being a geek elsewhere. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #64 Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 09:41:51 AM EST


[ Parent ]
yeah by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #67 Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 01:23:22 PM EST
once the seeds are in place it isn't that tough.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
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