Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Trying to Become a More Positive Person

During the Presidential Election, I got completely fed up with the loud back and forth and decided that I was done with the internet. I dramatically cut my facebook friends list, deleted my twitter, canceled all of my domain names, took down my websites, and deleted my blogs. It was a cathartic experience. It was also rather short-sighted.
 
I have been slowly adding folks back to my friend’s list. I reactivated my twitter. I haven’t gone through the trouble of rebuilding my websites or signing back up for domain names, and that may be a while in coming. I have been blogging with Blogger.com since 2004 (off and on). It does everything I need it to do… for now. As my blog title suggests I do have some secret evil plans for the future.
 
My buddy Garin and I have been recording a comic book related podcast. If you wanna hear what I sound like check it out. We are working on getting on iTunes, but in the meantime, you can check us out on our website www.theprintedpanelpodcast.com. Recording the podcast is stupid fun. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with.
 
In the last year, I have dealt with so many challenges that I barely have known up from down at times. I have been sure to count my blessings along the way, but I must admit there were days that I lost myself in the sheer, bloody stress of it all. When I was overwhelmed with everything I saw a lot of things in true black and white polarity.
 
Fred would come by my job and immediately make my day better just by talking a little Dungeons and Dragons with me. Walt would come to work in a bad mood and I would go completely angry and dark. The regular cast and crew of my life began to get classified in my head differently. The people who raised me up became “good” while the people who seemed to push my head under the water while I was struggling not to drown become “bad”. My tolerance for the bad people went to almost nothing. My desire for good company grew exponentially.
 
I mention Fred specifically because it was him that provided the epiphany that made me want to make a change in myself. For those of you that are just tuning in to my life, I work in a board game/ comic book shop. It is a great gig, but it is a job just like any other. By that, I mean that there is some real actual work to it. Not every customer is awesome. I don’t get along with every employee or member of the team. It is a normal job I just happen to get to spend my time talking about and being around hobbies I love
 
Fred pointed out something I had seen a few times before. A lot of the people in the shop gaming are not having fun. They are just there passing time in the company of other people. They aren’t even happy to be playing. The joy of the hobby has been lost on some of these people. I do not want to be one of those people. The point of any hobby is enjoyment. Otherwise, it is just an expensive advocation.
 
I took a look at my life and started thinking about things I was doing and not taking joy in. The examination surprised me. Writing had become something of a chore. Reading my comics had started to be put off in favor of more passive activities. I have quit watching much TV actively, but I continue to keep something playing in the background as mental noise. I had abandoned many of the games I enjoyed even going so far as to avoid play sessions. I haven’t painted or drawn anything in a long time. How had I let fun become work?
 
The simple answer is I began to take a whole host of things for granted. Things that should have been blessings, such as spending time with my friends, have become routine and even burdensome. I have never thought of myself as a person who expects things so much as to take any part of my life for granted. That was not a person I wanted to be. I think of myself as happy, enthusiastic, and appreciative. How was I going to make myself match the vision of who I believe I am?
 
I identified the problem. I was infected. Law 10 of the 48 Laws of Power states,” Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky.” Like all of Robert Greene’s laws this sounds harsh and unreasonable, but (again like all the other laws) it is very true. There are people in life, far too many of them, who are incapable of feeling happiness or joy. Misery can be spread like a virus.
 
I think all of us know at least one person who is perpetually struggling. We know that person who lurches from one disaster to another and no matter what comes their way they can never be satisfied. We should all RUN from this person. It is human nature to feel compassion and try to help people like this, but you cannot help. Instead, your involvement pulls you into the same waters that the troubled person is currently drowning in. You are made worse while their dire situation remains exactly the same.
 
I had let the unhappiness of the people around me seep into my skin like a poison. I made the mistake of trying to help when I should have instead put distance between me and those people. My emotional state meanwhile was working to have me cut ties with the “bad” people fighting against my nature and the logic I keep feeding myself to stick out bad situations. That may one day be diagnosed with a mental illness. I certainly should not have been fighting myself. My heart knows when someone is trouble. I should have been listening to it long ago.
 
Fred’s revelation made me realize I had become one of these gamers without joy. I liken the, to zombies from the world of Warm Bodies. They have thought. They can speak in some ways. They are just incapable of true feeling, and yet they shamble around in a strange mockery of real life. I am NOT willing to be a zombie in any sense of the word.
 
To remedy this I have done a good spring cleaning of my attitude. I have counted my blessings carefully. I have begun to make changes where I can in my life. Most importantly, I have begun to put distance between myself and the zombies.
 
It is worth noting here that the macho and the foolish will try to run off or fight these metaphorical zombies (or psychic vampires). This is completely stupid and proves a lack of understanding. All you get from fighting a zombie is more of a chance to get bit. To defeat a zombie you avoid and hide from them running as necessary. They will decay and fall apart all on their own if left to their own devices. This costs no effort on the part of the non zombie. There is much wisdom in this strategy. Zombie Hunters are idiots who will die a grisly death.
 
I have also stopped marveling at the negativity of people. I am blessed to have lived to a time in which the things I love are being produced in popular culture. The people around me who share my passions are likewise happy about things like Iron Fist on Netflix, an upcoming Justice League movie, and the 3rd season of Rick and Morty.
 
So many people these days are taking joy in tearing into things and finding things to complain about. All joy is lost to the critical eye. When I go to a movie, I go to suspend my reality for a few hours and enjoy being entertained. The last thing I want to endure is someone telling me all the “problems” with film, how it doesn’t match the book or comic book it is based on, or how bad the performance of the actors is. I pay money. Let me enjoy it in every way that I can. If you must complain there is an entire internet full of “cool kids” just waiting for your witticism.
 
The same thing is true of comic books. Every comic is a favorite to someone. Historically I have not loved Superman, but I am not going to mock those that do. I am not going to mock the work of the hard-working people who produce the book. I also believe you can discuss things with people that have passion and gain a new appreciation rather than attempt to tear down said passion.
 
I could preach about this for hours.
 

It all boils down to controlling what I am allowing to happen inside my head. Happiness and joy are a choice. If I choose to be happy on the inside and not to allow anything to affect me then I am truly free. I believe everyone deserves freedom. I also believe that true freedom is found in the heart and soul. I am going to work at being that more positive person. Would you like to join me?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Day to Celebrate Love

I hate being topical, but here goes. In four short hours Valentine’s Day 2016 will arrive. I know many of you may already have begun celebration in earnest. I also know that there are many more people who don’t celebrate or hate Valentine’s Day for a variety of reasons.
I spent a number of awkward childhood and teenage years having my feelings hurt because I did not have a Valentine. I took this to be a sign of something wrong with me. Why was I not worthy of the affection of another human person in that special way?
No, I didn’t want to have obscenely biological Valentine’s celebrations. Well, I didn’t want that until much later. I wanted someone to want a card from me. I wanted someone to want to give me a card. I wanted someone to hold my little hand and just spend time with me. That was LONELY.
My Mom, being the Saint of a person that she has always been, saw how hurt I was and always did something nice for me. I particularly remember her buying me a stack of Comic Books one year. It was the first time I had ever read The Flash. It was sweet, thoughtful, and to this day still, one of the nicest acts anyone has ever done for me.
That is really what I think it is worth writing about. I know 10 people right now who won’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because they have bitter memories of days gone by. I hear these people express these sour grapes in ways like,” It is a Hallmark Holiday anyway.” or,” The floral industry conspired this to popularize rose sales during their peak growing season.”
I won’t criticize that mindset. I had it for YEARS. If you are holding on to loneliness or hurt and cannot break free of it I am so very sorry. I want to suggest that there is a much better way.
Be my Mom. Well, No, she is absolutely unique. Let’s go with be LIKE my Mom. She is worthy of emulation.
Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself because no one is spending the time to make you feel special, go and spend the time to make someone else feel special. I would say that if you feel lonely that the simple act of focusing on something other than your own pain will probably make you feel better anyway. I know that at least a few people reading this are objecting to the idea because they don’t feel like anyone wants their attention. Well, Brothers and Sisters, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Pretty much everywhere there are old folks homes full of the elderly who would love nothing more than someone to sit with them, read to them, talk, or just hang around. Take your favorite book and go corrupt the elderly. It will be fun. Cthulhu will approve.
On the opposite end of the age spectrum, there are tons of babies in need of comfort at the nearest hospital. I challenge anyone to feel lonely when rocking a newborn. Babies have a Magic all their own. The old folks may not enjoy 50 shades of Grey (you perverts), but the babies only hear the regular tone of your voice and they are comforted. I cannot help you with any nurses you may offend. I suggest instead of housewife porn take Where the Wild Things Are. Less trouble.
More likely you know someone that is lonely and unhappy because of the season. In all the years that I hurt and hated the season I never once took the time to do anything for someone else. I was stupid, selfish, and inwardly focused. I should have thought about people who had it as bad or much worse than I did.

Make that the reason to love Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weltschmerz

Dictionary.com describes weltschmerz as sorrow that one feels and accepts as one’s necessary portion in life or sentimental pessimism”. Weltschmerz literally translates as world pain. It is kind of an emo concept, but one I have struggled with for years. I have spent a long time trying to feel like I fit in with the world around me. I want to be well thought of and liked.
Even typing that sounds so massively needy and angst-ridden. I don’t want to be emo, full of angst, or needy. In fact, the desire to not be all those things is much stronger than my seemingly socially programmed need to fit in. The two opposing emotions do an interesting amount of battle inside of me.
When I was a younger man I defined two things about myself that were very self-destructive. First, I wanted to be a nice guy. It wasn’t enough that I view myself as nice. I wanted other people to see me as the paragon of niceness though not of virtue. Secondly, I wanted to be not only educated or sophisticated, but I wanted to be seen as an interesting and forward thinker. That boils down to a desire to be the most interesting person in the room.
A little over 10 years ago I started to research into dating and relationships. I had no trouble “getting” the girl, but the relationships never lasted. I wanted to diagnose myself and figure out what I was doing wrong. I figured out the two above problems. I dubbed the first “White Knight Syndrome”.
I think it was 50 Cent who dubbed this personality type “Captain Save A Hoe”. Don’t hold me too hard to that one. I could be wrong.
I did try to come to the rescue of every girl I came across. It’s still a tendency that gets me into trouble. No problem was too big. I’d fist fight a jealous ex-boyfriend, never mind the fact he was probably a good guy who had been put in a bad situation. I’d spend stupid amounts of time, money, and effort on trying to “help”. I would neglect the truly important parts of my life including my own health and happiness. Nine of those relationships out of ten ended very badly for me. Each one took away a little more of my sense of confidence and happiness. I thought it truly noble that I just kept trying.
I still have a tendency to want to be the center of attention. The reason for that has changed quite a bit though. I used to want to feel accepted and a part of things. Now it is mostly because I find what other people go on about as boring and melodramatic. I am not more enlightened or refined than anyone else by any means. I just quit trying to church up the fact that I am a self-centered asshole. When I take over a conversation its probably because what you are talking about isn’t interesting to me. I don’t care, and I am not shy about moving things on to the direction I do care about. I admit that is mostly pop culture bullshit, comic books, writing, Magic, or my kids.
Letting go of the need for other people to see me as nice was very liberating. I don’t need you to like me. I don’t even feel the need to keep up most “social contracts” anymore. I am not going to keep my mouth shut if you step over a line and offend me. I am not going to play nice. I am not going to ignore inappropriate behavior. I am not going to be the morally bigger man. I am not ever going to give someone a second chance. I am not going to pretend to like you when I don’t like you. I was one of the few people playing by those rules anyway.
I was never really very nice anyway. I wasn’t doing any of that for selfless reasons. I was doing it to be liked. That is sort of a type of self-important evil that I am better off not practicing. At best it is disingenuous. At worst it was putting up a bullshit facade. I don’t have the energy for that nonsense. I also don’t have time to waste tiptoeing around anyone. These days blunt and direct are the only calls to action. I still do make the mistake of giving warnings instead of putting much-deserved boot to ass, but hey evolution takes time.
Weltschmerz is a giant mind fuck. The idea which used to sound so appealing to me is all centered on the idea that you cannot achieve what you want out of life. You cannot live your ideals. You have to give up and bend to the world and allow it to shape you. Science would describe that as being adaptable.
Adaptation is another way of saying that you changed because of an outside influence, There was never anything wrong with me. I didn’t want to rape, kill, molest, steal, or hurt anyone. I mostly want to pursue a life that is meaningful to me. There was never anything wrong with the fact that I flirt easily. There was never anything wrong that I show off ALL the time. I am charming and funny even though I am not a unique snowflake. I am not very nice, but I am a good dude. I am the asshole that you can count on to be exactly the asshole that I am. Find comfort in that.
I let the world and some people tell me that I was broken and wrong. Then I found a German word that defined that nonsense and the idea became all valid. I am here to tell you friends that Weltschmerz is bullshit. Don’t feel pain because you don’t feel like the world isn’t what you want it to be. Forget the world. Be what you want to be. Never, ever apologize for it (unless you rape, kill, molest, abuse, or steal.. then don’t apologize just kill yourself. Not kidding here.). Develop your own standards. Be your own definition and inspiration.  Nothing else matters because you are going to be judged in your own heart.
Failing the world doesn’t really mean anything. Failing yourself is about the worst thing you can possibly do. It is failing to live up to the true potential we all have. I totally condone being a selfish asshole as long as you are useful and serve a purpose. Assholes get things done. We all need assholes. It is right up there with oxygen and a direct derivative of the need to eat. Why apologize for it? Tell anyone who tries to shame you into feeling that world pain to get lost. Trust me, you don’t need them. The people you really need in your life will be there to build you up no matter what you choose to do. Have the wisdom to see the difference.
Oh well, rant over, I am going to go watch some cartoons and get some sleep.

 

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Marvel-ous Project

I could not bring myself to write about one of my latest mad little projects. I make it a practice to never (read this as not often, or maybe occasionally) do things that I am ashamed of. This blog will be all about something I am not particularly proud of. I decided to take a stand against a Comic Book Publisher. I will try to keep this spoiler free as long as possible, I will warn you when the spoilers start.
I love clear continuity. It doesn’t exist in too many formats anymore. DC has a cinematic universe, a TV universe, a comic universe, and even within their comic universe there are 52 separate but (mostly) equal realities. Keeping it in order involves a flow chart, the Dewey Decimal system, and the equivalent of a Ph.D. in comic book studies from the University of Krypton, Gotham Campus.
Marvel, oh my sweet glorious Marvel, to my knowledge had never clarified how many parallel realities were contained in its universes. It too has the cinematic universe but that takes place in the same space/time as the universe you see on TV with Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and with all the Netflix originals. So far, they have managed to put their film/TV universe in order.
Last year both Marvel and DC had big events. Both companies hinted or outright stated that their event would clear up all questions of Continuity. I bitched, complained, and promptly signed up with my shop to get all the relevant issues of both series.
DC launched Convergence. I loved the main series. I enjoyed most of the spin-off books. The event from start to finish spanned 2 months. I understood almost nothing that was going on because I am historically more of a Marvel guy. I read a LOT of Wikipedia. I had long quasi-intellectual conversations with my comic customers. It gained me a few friends (totally worth the cost of all of this. Don’t let my bitching and complaining detract from that).
When Convergence ended I modified my pull list for DC. I actually added titles. Before Convergence, I read Batman, Harley Quinn, and Constantine period. Now my pulls for DC are:
Batman
Batman and Robin Eternal
Constantine The Hellblazer
Flash
Harley Quinn
Justice League
Midnighter
and I admit I have been looking hard at adding New Suicide Squad and Red Hood and Arsenal.
Convergence was NOT a reset button turning all of DC’s parallel realities into one. It was a mixing of worlds for FUN that ended up restoring Earth 2 which had previously (unbeknownst to me) been destroyed. I felt a LITTLE bit deceived, but I enjoyed the ride.
Around the same time, Marvel launched Secret Wars. The stated goal was the same. Marvel killed off a bunch of characters, destroyed all of its parallel realities, and brought all the heroes and villains to Battleworld. That is a slightly rehashed version of the original Secret Wars. The destruction of all of reality was a new enough twist I was willing to take the plunge. At the outset, Marvel warned me that the story would unfold from April until December in 8 issues.
I pinched my nose. I dove into the deep water. I read A lot of DC and indy comics while waiting from month to month for the Secret Wars main series issue. Each one was visually stunning even though I have come to hate the painted art style in comics. I am a clean line and ink kind of guy.
Around month 6 Marvel announced that Secret Wars would become a 9 part series instead of 8 and would spill over into January 2016. I cursed. I kicked. I screamed. I prayed for more indy books. Why did I have all this angst related to comic releases?
Some jackass at Marvel headquarters decided that having 40 or 50 monthly Secret Wars related books was simply not enough to eat up 3/4 of a year. Marvel made the BRILLIANT decision to begin releasing new Number 1 issues for post-Secret Wars stories starting in October 2015.
*deep breath*
Hold it.
*exhale*
Pretend to meditate.
Fail at the ruse.
Pray
Curse.
Apologize for cursing during Prayer.
Pray harder.
*remember to keep breathing*
and *sigh*
Marvel… I am going to speak directly to you now. First, What the Hell? I understand that some jack off that has 5 degrees all related to manipulating the minds and buying powers of the public has convinced you to reset your numbering system every 24 months. I have stuck with you through the fact that neither you nor DC has figured out how to do this without completely screwing it up, but there has to be a line somewhere.
You have crossed it.
You went WAY, WAY past the line.
You passed it so long ago you forgot there was a line to cross.
It isn’t too late. Some of us have not given up hope. I, as an example, decided to forgive you. I created myself a fun little project in response to this completely RETARDED move. I figured out a plan, man. I didn’t even ask any of my friends to join me.
My project was simple. I quit reading any of the Secret Wars tie-in books. I only read the main series as soon as I found out the new Number 1s would start printing before the end of your “Secret War.”I did this to budget funds to buy ALL the new issues as they released. I had to do that because I had no intention of reading any of them until Secret Wars finished. 
My reasoning for this was very simple. I didn’t want any spoilers. I didn’t want to know what heroes and villains were going to make it to the far side. I even wanted to commit to not studying any cover art for answers.
Do you assholes know how hard that is while working in a comic book shop?
My dedication to your company speaks literal volumes (the ones piled up in a short box waiting to be read). Once upon a time, I subscribed to the majority of the Marvel Universe. I literally rejected only Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and Punisher. As of AvX, I was readying $400 to $600 a month worth of comic books. The majority of them being Marvel titles.
After AvX I actually expanded slightly for new titles in the Ultimate universe too.
Let’s do the downfall in Order.From here on out there will be Spoilers kids. Read with caution.
Insert
Ample
Space
Here
In
A
Polite
Attempt
to
Avoid
Accidental
Spoilers.
You have been warned.
Abandon All Hope Ye Who Read On
AvX was damned solid. Nuff Said. Result- David adds books.
Age of Ultron killed any interest in events. It was complete garbage given that it was its own damned reset button. Result- David’s pull list remains unchanged
Infinity had nothing to do with Thanos. It was a big handjob to end in the destruction of Attilan and release the Terrigen Mists. This had FUCK ALL to do with the Builders. It had NOTHING to do with anything but making the Inhumans begin to replace the Mutants as the hot-button issue in the Marvel universe. This was done so that Fox wouldn’t profit off its licensing of the X-Men IP. Douche move Marvel, but I accept business is business. You could have accomplished the same thing in a single issue event or two issues of the Avengers. Result- David drops New and Secret Avengers and reads a lot more Thunderbolts.
Battle of the Atom is Bendis’s execution of the X-men for the above-stated reasons. Fuck you, Bendis. Go destroy Archie comics. It’s not noble to kill off titles, man. His formula is simple time travel x familiar characters from the past in the future = easy to write tripe that runs readers away from books that Marvel doesn’t want read.  Result- David drops all X-men Titles.
Original Sin….shit… no one still understands what was said that made Thor unworthy of his own damned hammer. No one knows why Captain America suddenly is an old guy. Oh, wait, That same jack off with his marketing skills says that there isn’t enough diversity in comic book characters. Let me translate… they want money from non-white people too. This isn’t done in an effort to be noble or unifying. It is a money grab. Result- David drops Spider-man and a few other titles
Death of Wolverine – eat a dick, Marvel. You killed him in the same year that I lost a friend who loved this character as much as I do. To make it more insulting Wolverine either killed himself or went out like the world’s biggest dumb ass. Result- David reads only event books, Thor, Loki, and Thunderbolts until they cancel the damned thing.
AXIS is a giant reset button of its own. Red Onslaught? The original was red. Stop pushing rehashed shit at your readers. Monk Deadpool?? At least the art in this pile is decent.
All of this brings us to Secret Wars.
It started out so strong. Literally, nothing matters in the series from issue 6 until the end of issue 9. You used it as a way to write off the Fantastic Four definitively for the same reason you did away with the mutants. Again, I don’t mind the business decision. I guess it was nice of you to give Doctor Doom his face back. I loved seeing Molecule Man on some panels again, but as far as I can tell nothing has really changed.
We had a multiverse before the lead up to Secret Wars began. Each multiverse had its own Beyonder. At the end, we have a new multiverse made up of as many universes. Each multiverse has its own Molecule Man who serves the function of a Beyonder.
Prof X is still dead.
Wolverine is still dead, but you are using his name to sell a book about X-23 that we don’t care about. Oh, by the way, Old Man Logan isn’t a consolation prize. That original series was great, but Old Logan with young Jean is just too creepy.
Cyclops is old. Cyclops is young. Cyclops has the Phoenix force even though that character was clearly killed. You did a great job cleaning up that mess.
Thanos had his spine ripped out by Doctor Doom rather casually. He must be gone…only he isn’t.
The Maker was torn to shreds by Molecule Man and is clearly not able to be alive…only he is the villain in the New Avengers book. Good job keeping the new continuity clean.
Angel was a mutant with Angelic wings. Only that guy got his wings torn off and Apocalypse gave him new ones made of metal, but wait young Angel took a gift from the Black Vortex and has Celestial Wings. All of these things are NOT clean continuity.
Here is the kicker guys. I haven’t read anything past Secret Wars number 9. These are just the messes and inconsistencies I can pull off the top of my head from COVER ART!
I made a project out of falling back in love with Marvel Comics. The project really begins now. I am going to pull out spanking new Marvel number 1 issues and give these books a try on their own merits. As soon as I fall out of love with a book I am going to stop reading and remove it from my purchase list. I don’t see the odds being too much in your favor on getting too much more of my money Marvel. Don’t worry though I am looking forward to finding out.
Here is what my current Marvel pull list looks like;
All New, All Different Avengers
All New Hawkeye
All New Inhumans
All New Wolverine
All New X-Men
Amazing Spider-man
Angela Queen of Hel
Deadpool
Doctor Strange
Drax (I will probably keep this one for my love of CM Punk)
Extraordinary X-men
Guardians of the Galaxy
Howard the Duck
Invincible Iron Man
Mighty Thor
Ms. Marvel
New Avengers
Nova
Old Man Logan (once it releases)
Scarlet Witch
Spider-man Deadpool
Starbrand and Nightmask
Uncanny Avengers
Uncanny Inhumans
Uncanny X-Men
Vision

I will keep you all updated on what survives the cut. In the meantime, get your shit together Marvel. Write good stories with great art and stop it with the continuous stream of events.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Doing Nothing While Walking The Path

When I was a kid one of the worst trespasses you could commit toward my Mother was to whine and say,” I’m bored.” The punishment for this sin was, for me at least, vacuuming. To this day I hate to vacuum. I do not like to say I am in any way intelligent. (I have come to believe I am entirely devoid of smarts.) When I was a kid though I was quickly conditioned to not say,” I am bored.” because I did NOT want to vacuum.
For the majority of my life, I believed that Mom detested pointless whining. That is certainly true, but the truth of why she hated that particular complaint is a little more meaningful. When a child complains,” I’m bored.” what is actually being said is,”Pay attention to me because I am unable to occupy myself.”
This is a problem on multiple fronts. Parents SHOULD pay their kids attention, but kids should also be able to occupy their own minds for at least some time. A child unable to do this quickly becomes troublesome for their parents. Over time this devolves into social issues and problems with attention span. The kid probably behaves bratty and spoiled.
My Mom though swims in deeper mental pools than most. I was taught to entertain myself. I learned to be quiet and read. I played outside. I built tree houses. I taught myself to draw. I got very, very comfortable being on my own.
An interesting thing happens when you are comfortable with yourself. You get quieter. You start to See, Hear, Smell, Taste, Feel, and Experience the world. You Learn something vast and important.  While that is happening you get very comfortable with the idea of doing Nothing.
To all you parents out there, you will be very, very familiar with Nothing in the capital sense of the word. I know I certainly spent most of my childhood and teen years doing Nothing. I was super proud when I  saw my daughter start to do Nothing on her own. I remember well the day I noticed it.
I waited in line to pick my daughter up from school. She was in the third grade. When she got into the car I greeted her and asked what she had done today. She answered,” Nothing.” I grinned and asked,” What did you guys learn in Math today?” She shrugged her shoulders and said,” Nothing.” I asked her what she had for lunch and she spent five minutes describing the menu. Most parents are familiar with this phenomenon, but we don’t put much thought into it.
Taila had not spent her day doing nothing. She had learned plenty about Math, Science, History, and the like. Her brain was crammed so full of information that if most adults attempted the workload they would sit in a stupor. Nothing though is a special mental state that through Effortless Effort much is Experienced and Learned. I was glad to see her reach Nothing. It comes fairly easily to most kids, but along the way, most of us forget how to do Nothing.
For me getting to Nothing is difficult because I want to have Control. I have goals I want to reach and I want to get there my way. The problem with this is that what I want to do isn’t always on the Path. While Nothing represents the blank mind or the Uncarved Block, The Path represents a Natural Way. This is a concept akin to Fate or Destiny, but at the same time, it is wholly different.
I always feel I am on the Path when I don’t feel I am fighting the current to swim through the river of my life. (Man, I metaphored a metaphor. That means I win Metaphors.) Normally while I am on the Path things seem to just work out. I feel like I am succeeding without any particular push or effort toward that success. When things get very difficult and I start stressing, being worried, and dealing with anxiety I know I have stepped off the Path.
I normally have to Reflect for a while doing Nothing to find the Path again. Some days it is harder for me to do Nothing than others. It is difficult for me to let my mind shift out of gear and just relax. It amazes me how often walking down the Path goes hand in hand with Doing What is Right.

All of these ideas come from Taoism. I cannot fairly be called a Taoist. I do wish I could learn to be a better human being though and Taoism is a great system of philosophy to help me along the way. If any of what I have to say makes you curious about Taoism I strongly suggest reading the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. He uses A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh to explain Taoism is very simple terms. It is a book that has had great influence in my life, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the impact of my Mom’s old Kirby vacuum cleaner. Thanks to it I am never bored.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Divine Dictation

I am rereading On Writing by Stephen King. This is my third complete read and probably my twentieth return to this particular font of inspiration. It is an important Work. I believe he knew that as he wrote it. My favorite quote from the book is,”Writers are blessed stenographers taking divine dictation.”

Master King also, in plain simple language, says that writing is telepathy. This isn’t a metaphor or an analogy. He means this as a literal truth, or perhaps it is a literary truth (BAM bad pun!). I know that he has not been locked up in a mental ward for stating this fact. Don’t any of you go doubting my sanity for agreeing with his observation? You won’t. I know you all. I know your minds from all the time you spend reading mine. I trust all of you. Because of that fact, I am going to go bravely out on a limb here and expose some of the deeper chambers of my mind and soul using this Magic.
Before we go there together, I do want to say that there has been something of a resurgence of my ability to write. While I also agree with Master King that as writers we don’t wholly create our works and act as a channel or medium for stories told On High. With that accepted as true, I have to say that I can lose motivation to write. I am not published. I do not get much feedback on the things I do put out into the public eye. At times that discourages me. I occasionally lose the desire to take dictation.
The best way I motivate myself to keep putting words to the page is by reading.  Ernest Cline has been my muse since 2015. Ready Player One is an absolute masterpiece. Armada is the book that got me excited about writing again. It is a little predictable, but at its, heart Armada is an Adventure story. Those simply do not get written anymore, or at least they are rarely done well. I appreciate that Ernest Cline leaves me feeling inspired and motivated to tell my own stories. This may be a generational connection. Who knows?
On to Deeper Things.
I have wanted my whole life to have Magic or Power. Luke Skywalker made me want to use the Force. I wanted to be an X-man. I could never agree which one I would like to be, but that was not the worthy part. I found with writing that I do have power. My words can reach through space and time and connect my mind to yours, dear Reader.
In order to make that connection, I simply open my mind and let the words flow. You read them, begin to connect my ideas with the thoughts in your mind, and finally, we form a connection where you begin to expect the words I will write next. Even people who have never and will never meet me understand me on a very personal level. I suspect that I give away more of myself in the exchange than I mean, but every Power comes with a cost.
There it is. David believes that what he writes is performing Magic or at least telepathy. He also is writing in the third person. Grab your torches and pitchforks!
Since I have freaked you all out any way I might as well go the Full Monty. There is a much deeper implication of writing having power. I want to make two simple points that have very deep implications. You have read this far into the deep water. Follow me a little farther and we can all happily drown together.
First, If this telepathy is real then we should all be very careful what minds we chose to touch. Humans have a known and obvious weakness. When we expose ourselves to something sad we get sad. When we experience something silly, we become playful and try to have fun. In other words, Mentally we are what we eat. This kids is why I do not watch most horror movies. Darkness in means Darkness out.
Second, this telepathy puts a new importance on reading true Holy works. I love God, but I do not participate in organized religion. For years I have defended this position through a series of bluffs and feints. The truth is I rarely enter into any type of organized religion without feeling judged and very judgmental myself. I have confined my worship to reading the Bible, reflecting on myself through prayer, and when I find someone in a situation that I feel my words will help lead them closer to God I witness.

I envy people who can live their Faith loudly. I am not that person. I do very much like the idea that I am able to touch the mind of the men who wrote the Bible. They themselves were taking direct Divine Dictation from Him. None of this is news to me. I am just putting it down here because I believe it is important to pass along. That is the reason I write most of these things. I feel a call to share my words. I have faith that my words find the minds that they are meant to.

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