My Thoughts Are Pollution

Coming-of-age ramblings that don't mean much in the long run

Month: April, 2016

No, You Don’t Have to Love Yourself

I work in a bookstore and find that there is an exorbitant amount of media built around the concept of “loving oneself.” There are so many self-help books centered on this topic, and somehow even more fiction where learning to love oneself appears to be the moral of the story. For a while, I was on board with this concept. It seemed like something I wouldn’t be able to do anytime soon, but it looked like something resembling an answer. I’ve been stumbling around for about a decade looking for one, and after realizing that spirituality was not it, I landed on this idea of self-love as a possible solution. It was (and still is) entirely outside of my grasp, and seeing as I didn’t have the answer now, it was clear that it had to be something that was beyond me.

I don’t think self-love is the answer, though.

The longer I go on, the more I find myself recoiling at the idea of delusion as a substitute for enlightenment. I don’t believe that just because something makes me happy, I should believe in it. In fact, this idea was largely responsible for my initial falling-out with Christianity. It seemed to me to be easy to believe in an afterlife; to know that this void that hangs over all of our heads is not as frightening as it appears. It seemed easy to believe that there was no such thing as moral relativism. It was easy to think that as long as you know the rules, you can follow them. It was easy to believe that I was right, because there was an easily defined “right and wrong.”

But I don’t think that way anymore. Maybe it’s bad for me. Maybe I’m less happy; in fact, I almost certainly am. The fear of death clings to every fiber of my being, and I find my thoughts wandering to the darkness beyond every time I turn the keys in my car, or feel an inexplicable pain somewhere in my body. I struggle with questions of right and wrong, and find that almost everything, no matter how repulsive or downright evil it may appear, falls into a grey area of sorts. There is nothing that is universal, therefore it is hard to condemn people for their atrocities, as much as a part of me may scream to contrary; something inside of me believes that people deserve to be punished when they do wrong. And I suppose they do. But when “wrong” is so hazily defined, it’s hard to determine what it is people deserve. Right and wrong are fairly fluid. There are a number of thought experiments that support this idea, but seeing as they keep me awake at night, I don’t particularly want to burden anyone else with them. If you can accept that morality is about shades of grey without reflecting on impossible moral quandaries, you’re better off.

A lot of this is all meaningless; I’m not in a position where my opinion on crime and punishment and morality and whatever is really relevant to society. I’m not doling out punishments. I’m not determining anyone’s future. I’m helping people locate books and then spending a lot of time playing video games when I get home. But it all goes through my head, anyway. And some part of me deems it all as “important,” since I don’t seem to flush all memory of these thoughts away at the end of the night, when I lay down to sleep.

I’ve gone off-course of my original point, but working through that might make it more clear as to why I struggle with the idea of self-love as a solution to unhappiness. I value thinking, and I value self-awareness. I’m not as self-aware as I’d like to be; I find that I gloss over many of my faults and failures in my personal history of myself. I also have difficulty finding my strengths, though whether this is a failure of self-awareness or just a very clear indicator of personal weakness (implying that perhaps I don’t actually have any strengths to speak of) it’s hard to say. But I think that loving myself in ignorance of the many things that are not worth loving might just be wrong. I mean, it’s obviously not. I just got done explaining that I believe that right and wrong are not concrete ideas, but I think that it may not be the answer that I’m looking for.

Perhaps self-acceptance is a bit closer to the thing I think I need, but even that is likely just another step on the way to whatever my personal ideal of enlightenment is. I hope that one day I’ll figure it out. So far, I’ve made progress; even if that progress is only ruling out things that didn’t work. A million failures might one day lead to a single success, and hopefully, that’s all I need.

People and the Internet

With the tenor of discourse on the internet, it’s no wonder I’m a nihilist. Viewed from behind a computer screen, human nature is inherently repulsive. There is no way to believe that people are supposed to be good, when all of this evidence points to the fact that we’re actually all terrible.

The fact that we all spend so much time in an environment where liking something someone else isn’t into is considered bad and wrong by that person is unsettling. The communities that the internet tends to foster are no different than circles of elementary school bullies. “Oh, you like Pokemon? Pokemon is for babies!” and then you get laughed off of the playground.

I mean, on the one hand, the internet has opened so many doors for people of all ages and gender identities and races to be into whatever they want. Seeing someone else who doesn’t fit the “target demographic” of a particular game or movie or book or anything be into that thing gives people confidence that they can, too.

That’s cool! But it’s a lot cooler in theory than in practice. The reality of the situation is that people are scorned for liking the things that they like. They’re scorned because of their age, their race, or their gender. They’re scorned for awful, xenophobic reasons, and the people doing the scorning are hiding behind flimsy excuses for why it’s okay. They’re accused of pretending to like something, or not being into it enough. They’re told that they have some sort of political agenda, whether or not they’ve made any comments in their direction. Just by being someone on the internet who doesn’t fit into the box some folks have defined as “people,” they are making statements. And they suffer for it. People send them death threats, harass their families, and post their personal information on the internet. It’s disgusting.

And you can take this further than the major social issues, too. Just by saying you like something, you’ve managed to become less than human in someone’s eyes. You are suddenly part of a “group.” You become one of them. The enemy. Just by being into something! It’s ridiculous! If someone hates Doctor Who, and you like it (which I personally don’t by the way,) you’re suddenly “one of those Doctor Who fans,” and not Jason, or Victoria, or even xxx_smokedog420_xxx anymore. You’re just a part of a machine that they don’t like. And you’re offending them. You’re contributing to the death of content they love! You’re a death knell for whatever it is that they’re into. Somehow. I don’t know how that works, but that’s the accusation being made.

It’s very hard to believe in the goodness of human nature when the internet has exposed something so disgusting about it. We strip away the humanity from those who we see as “different” from us. They become part of something else, and we want to dismantle that something else. The internet is a truly unhealthy place to be. For all the unbelievable good it has done, it’s really made me depressed about what people are.

I’m Feeling Sorry For Myself Right Now

Maybe there should be a points system in regards to good deeds and bad deeds. Nobody ever feels appreciated. No one ever feels like anyone cares about the effort they put into maintaining a relationship. Maybe it would be better if there was a definitive, objective way to track kindnesses.

Then people wouldn’t be able to accuse you of not loving them enough whenever you let them down. Because all of the little things you did along the way, those would still count. They wouldn’t be worthless the second someone was upset with you. No one would be able to keep a list of all the bad things you’ve done and dump the whole list on you when anything went bad, because all the good things would be on the list too.

I don’t do a whole lot of good things. But I do some. I do more than I feel like I can manage. I do, in fact, do. My world is not built out of perceived slights against me, even though I do have a tendency to play the victim. My world is admittedly not built out of perceived kindness, either. Right now my world is built out of a pile of bad habits, with a massive tower in the center. The tower is slick and devoid of handholds. And everyone wonders why I don’t just buck up and climb it.

I am more than the sum of my faults. I have a lot of faults. But I am more than them. I do good things. I do my best.

There are just a lot of little things that get forgotten. I guess it doesn’t really matter. You’re not supposed to do good things for the sake of personal gain. But it does hurt when you realize they’ve all been paved over by a single mistake. Or even a series of mistakes. It’s painful either way.

Life is hard.

Better Off

I’ve been working on this project; it’s an album that follows the story of two different characters. This likely isn’t even going to make it into the final cut of the album, but I thought it was kind of a fun song, so I wanted to share it anyway.

1: “You’ve been alone
But not been lonely
So you’ve got it bad
But you don’t got it worse than me.”

2: “You’ve been home
But I’ve been on my feet
Yeah, you’ve got it bad
But you don’t got it worse than me.”

BOTH:

“Don’t you know?
Won’t you see?
You’ve got it so bad
But you don’t got it worse than me.”

1: “I’ve been cutting my teeth
On cutting my arms
Oh you’ve got some nerve
To cover your scars

See, I’m rife with this fear
Of all the things I could do
I’ll admit you’ve got it bad,
But I’ve got it worse than you.”

2: “I’ve been trying to move
But I’ve got nowhere to go
But you can still climb
So don’t act like you know

See, I’ve lost all my drive
There is nothing to do
I know you’ve got it bad,
But I’ve got it worse than you.”

BOTH:

“See we’re on the edge
But there’s nowhere to fall
So we’ve got it bad
We’re not so different after all”

It’s Always Nice to Discover New Music

 

“Oh, why did I do that?

Why does everything collapse

even when it’s glued together?”