“When I was out for drinks with a few friends, there was this girl that kept hitting on me. It was my friend’s birthday, so I really wasn’t interested. Her demeanor and drunken persistence was starting to bug me, but only because I had politely told her I’m not in the market. Her friends were cheering her on, which made the situation even more irritating. After about the fifth time of her infiltrating my group, I turned and told her that I wouldn’t be able to please her. Her eyebrow raised with a smile, and she said “How do you know?” I stared at her blankly, with no heart left in me and said “Because I don’t give a fuck about you.”—
I really didn’t want to say it. I wasn’t nice then. Probably could be nicer now.
I know lots of dumb, idealistic, and rambunctiously escapist young-folk like to subscribe to the whole “no regrets” fantasy. But it’s good to regret at least the moments in our lives that we we’re cruel or unfair to those that didn’t quite deserve it. While I may be quite the insensitive character, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad for sharpening my words in ways that were intended to hurt. I wish anyone unfairly cracked by me the best in their search for belonging and happiness.
From now on, I’m going to refer to every woman I interact with as “Margaret.” This includes close friends, the mom, the sister, ex girlfriends, and the like. I’ll make it appear as if it was an accident, in a way that’ll imply that I do in fact know a “Margaret.” But little will you know, I don’t know any “Margaret”s. But to everyone else, this “Margaret” character will become this weird enigma that everyone’s afraid to inquire about.
Here’s what the gossip will sound like:
"He’s keeps accidentally calling be ‘Margaret.’ At first it happened once in a blue moon, but soon it began happening more frequently. It’s weird"
"You too? OH MY GOD he’s been doing the same with me. Who the fuck is this Margaret anyways?""No clue. But I think we both know it’s pretty obvious he’s been spending a lot of time with her""That’s for sure.""What if…she’s like an 80 year old grandma or something? That would explain why he doesn’t bring her around""God, Jerry is so weird. He’s probably into that kind of thing""Why are we even friends with him?""No clue."”—
The amount I think about myself might as well not exist in comparison to how much I think about everyone else. Although lately, I’ve realized that caring less about others has allowed me to grow in ways not achievable with selflessness.
My mind is -aside from a place to make music, art, and solve problems - a carousel of people. There’s gotta be hundreds, ranging from my closest friends and family to strangers I met for 5 minutes 10 years ago. Friends I’ve lost either by fault, distance, change, or mystery. Everyone down to the solitary pedestrians I see smiling and enjoying themselves without iPhones, that girl in a gorgeous dress I saw last year who seemed like she just escaped the worst date of her life, the little Asian kid that followed me around a grocery store once, my Nigerian friend Franklin who I’ve never made contact with on the internet or phone in the 4 years I’ve known him, all the one-night stands, and the many brief, meaningful, and final interactions I’ve had with strangers in the past that I wished turned into friendships.
I hope everyone turns out okay.
An excerpt from “Same Body, Different Lives ” / An old Journal I dedicated to my quiet and debilitating anger towards the fact that people come and go, and the good times you’re having right now won’t last. I’ve since moved on from this childish attitude, so unattached to the idea of making anything or anyone last that it’s a wonder people see me as the caring person I am.
But there’s friction between the redundancy of reality and the impossible cravings of my soul. I’m living life as a cold, insensitive pragmatist while every cell in my body is absorbing my experiences with people in hopes that those moments will last forever.
If anything, I’m as transient and elusive as people get. This is why I have the insatiable desire for my moments with friends and lovers to last. I love experiencing a person, watching them be them when we’re together. I love experiencing what knowing a person can do to you. I miss actually WANTING to see people, I miss the vulnerability of love. I miss it all. But in my current form, I don’t want to see people. I’m not interested enough in my own emotions to really feel much for anyone. It’s become harder to care about people these days. My sex life and inability to stick around has starved me of the ability to connect with people in ways other than intellect and lust.
Sometimes I genuinely think more people would feel more inclined to take action for a better world…if we didn’t have certain convenient luxuries. In a lot of ways, the Western populace has become sedated, docile, and apathetic through their over-indulgence and over-dependence on the bells and whistles of modern convenience. We are more willing to sluggishly demand change with a misdirected sense of entitlement…yet rarely willing to do much about it. What happened to people having faith in themselves to take action and change something? Why demand that the rich and powerful do something? Listening to us isn’t exactly among their top priorities, so shouldn’t we stop beating a dead horse and restore faith and dependence on ourselves and each other?
Not saying we shouldn’t have all the privileges that we do. I just think too many people don’t strive to develop the individual and collective capacity to prioritize social and world progress above our addiction to entertainment, gossip, materialism, and gadget salivated escapism.
Sometimes I feel that many people deep down really aren’t as concerned for a better world as they want to appear.
I think that many just feel obligated to have certain opinions about what’s happening around them, you know- as a means to have something to talk about…or as a means to feel a dusty sense of purpose without actually feeling the need to take REAL, productive action.
Or perhaps they act concerned because they’re afraid to admit that, deep down…they really don’t care. No matter what political facade you side with, be it liberal or conservative, we all just want to mind our business and go about our lives without much being asked of us.
The observation of discrimination in today’s world is spoken and dealt with in incredibly simplified and absolute terms, with complete neglect of the very imperative grey areas that exist in the reality of these issues.
We should tailor and communicate our criticisms and elucidation of discriminatory behavior based upon the variety of circumstances that it occurs in…rather than the educated and disenfranchised engendering guilt every chance they get towards those of us who may simply just be ignorant, oblivious, or inadvertent in our subtle discrimination towards certain groups of people.
Rather than engendering guilt and being accusatory towards everyone who makes an ignorant slip, we should instead respectfully/peacefully educate them on the sensitivity of their actions and the larger problems/histories such actions reflect. This would create less tension, fighting, dead-end circular debating and instead encourage those among us who are a little less informed to be more educated, patient, and respectful in their interactions with those of us who are discriminated against and perhaps less privileged in society.
We should treat the ignorant with humility and patience, as people who need to be educated, people who need their perspective changed. Not people who should be punished for their ignorance. We should let them know that while we understand where they are coming from, they are wrong and should be more mindful and educated in their thinking and behavior. History shows us that harsh punishment and guilt tripping creates more retaliation from growth than it does the encouragement of growth. This is true with raising children, our current prison system, and many other sociological obstacles in the striving for a better community…and ultimately, a better world.
My premise here, mind you, does not seek to protect or speak for those staph infections of society that with willful intention, passion, and aggression seek to injure and discriminate against those of a less privileged predisposition. The KKK, the many killers and abusers of gay folks in Russia, the many police officers who actively participate in racist police brutality, and others who consider anyone who isn’t white, male, or straight to be inferior to them. These individuals, in my personal opinion, do not deserve the humility and patience I speak of and should be punished to highest degree for their actions.
I hope this makes sense to both those of a liberal and conservative frame of reference.
When we believe in something, we rarely seek out evidence to the contrary to see how it matches up with our assumptions.
This is the source of urban legends, folklore, superstitions, being judgmental, religion, your refusal to take self accountability for your mistakes and fall outs with others, etc. This is the same mindset at work within those who choose to resort their view of the world through partisan politics, the news, and that telephone game we mindlessly play….social gossip.
I think most of us would be surprised if we were to learn just how much of our daily lives is quietly starved and hidden from us by our self deceptions. But even if that’s true, I don’t think many of us care to peek behind the world we’ve created for ourselves, to see what exists on the contrary.
Because validity can still exist in how we feel. Validity does not require a concrete truth, especially within our hunger for reassurance and manufactured innocence. Truth beyond feeling, to many of us, is inadequate. Our feelings are (just) important and true enough for anything else to really matter. In all of life’s hierarchies, our feelings are ranked higher than anything else.
All said, I feel I’m very different in this respect.
My feelings are just instruments I use to help me solve the curious case of “me”. My emotions are no more important to me than anything else in life that adds to my experience, and the manifestation of what I am. “Who” I am, however, doesn’t concern me. “Who” I am will reveal itself, regardless of whether or not I try to go on the greatly counterproductive journey of searching for that answer myself. I’ve always seen the search for the “who” in all of us to be terribly forced, and detrimental to actually having deeper and more clear perspective of one’s self.
Instead of who I am, I am much more interested in WHAT I am. Because I have learned that the “who” in us will most clearly manifest from observing “what” we are.
Yet if we peel away this layer from myself, another truth comes to light : my lack of concern for identity is also influenced by my addiction to the process of self discovery. In other words, I never want to stop learning more about myself. I never want to stop building onto myself with the bricks of experience. As with anyone else, I am more than the sum of my parts. So why not occasionally deconstruct ourselves and let our well explored experiences rebuild us from ground up? I’m not master of the universe, and neither are you. We’re just part of it. So why not let it move through us a little more rather than trying to hone, control, and deduce more than we’re able to?
Identities are definitions attempting to solidify the ephemeral.
Identities are attempting to make transience permanent.
Or, the search for identity is also the attempt to pack everything fleeting within ourselves into a clear container in which nothing changes.
Well, too bad. That clear container will explode, and your identity will dissolve back to it’s uncertain and primordial roots.
As long as I’m living my life and making the most of my time on Earth, identity is about as fleeting as the moments that pass us by. If I were to cling to each passing moment, I’d get nowhere. The future would be a forgotten concept. Without the need to form an identity, my life is more eventful but somehow easier to handle. Oddly enough, while identity is concerned with a stable definition of yourself, I find myself much more comfortable and in-tune with myself and the world by not giving a shit “Who I Am.”
I’m more resilient, I’m more patient, I learn new skills more quickly and new concepts with ease. I’m certainly more honest, less stressed, and generally require less to feel happy. By not giving a shit about my own identity, I ride my waves and move with my tide. I’m not going against it. I’m also causing much less friction in my experiences, and allow myself to manifest naturally with time.
To me, the search for identity is like prying open a cocoon before the caterpillar has had a chance to finish metamorphosis. By discarding the forceful desire for identity, we allow ourselves to change organically; in a way that speaks naturally to the experiences contributing to the ever-changing recipe of our being.
No one is static. This is why I’ve always rolled my eyes towards those who accuse others of hypocrisy : our identities are a collaborative project between you and those we interact with. People, by will or reflex, construct certain identities through which they see you, and any deviation from their concept of you will make them suspicious. Any deviation from the patterned standards people judge you under will get you called a hypocrite. If you change, as naturally is the case, for some reason people feel righteous and innocent enough themselves to hold anyone else accountable.
Identity is constructed by emotion, and is therefore in a perpetual state of instability. People are in a constant flux of change and the unknown, no matter how much they strive for sameness and certainty. Identity, I believe, is a byproduct of our need for explanation and simplification. We feel that if we don’t construct an identity for ourselves, we will float away and cease to exist.
Unfortunately, the reality here leaves an ironic taste in my mouth. We feel that if we don’t construct an identity for ourselves, we will float away and cease to exist. Yet it’s the very search for identity that makes us float away into obscurity. This because we’re trying to force ourselves into a definition that we’re far too complex to survive in. This would explain why we will have an identity crisis many times throughout our life. Because the definitions we try to force ourselves into simply aren’t adequate.
They’re weak, fragile, and premature.
But if II really wanted to simplify it all, I’d say that we will always be ourselves, and we don’t need an identity to prove it. Without an identity, there’s more to be and more to see.
Interesting scenario in Syria. What I find very intriguing within these issues is the diplomatic obscurity and continuous shifting of morale that operates beneath the complexity of this narrative. Both on the citizen turf and in the territory of those in power making these delicate decisions.
These moments, I feel, are immensely delicate and should be a politically sacred ruler by which to measure the political partisanship that my fellow liberals subscribe to - especially by keeping a very critical and cautious eye on the “democratic” and “visionary” president that we elected. His decisions should be watched carefully.
And while we should never underestimate the difficulty of his position, or criticize him without educating ourselves on the obscurity of all this, the executive conclusions that Obama and his cabinet come to (in collaboration with the larger international round table) should give us a decent palette from which to determine whether or not our president is worthy of our support.
All I want to do today is lay in bed half naked and listen to Claude Debussy and Erik Satie. After working way too many night shifts, it’s the best fucking thing ever. I’m convinced that gorgeous sun bathed Parisian days ghost wrote for Debussy.
Listen to that shit. Daydream jams. This music reassures me of my youth, and all that I have to look forward to.
A couple years back I was on a date with a girl. She seemed really sure of herself, which isn’t a bad thing. She was an attractive gal who seemed to lead a productive life. I, however, wasn’t exactly at a productive point in my life, so dating was always challenged by my hesitance. As we kept talking, she had a strange pattern of mentioning how popular she was with men. She’d smile with complacency in these moments, which sort of annoyed me. The more she talked, the less substance she had. She talked way too much about herself, sometimes with a sense of entitlement that I didn’t understand. She seemed to only live in shallow waters.
In her words followed by a laugh,
“It’s nice to know that I don’t have any worries in that area”
My irritation manifested in the form of a smile. She smiled back. I got up and found the waitress. I then tipped her, and abandoned my date, leaving her with the check.
“I don’t really prefer the tangible identity so many of us feel obligated to solidify. Mostly because a person’s search for identity seldom has anything to do with who they actually are, and what they could be. The less I try to be, the more I actually am.”—
Another Passerby in the Background of Your Life (Excerpt)
|| PRELUDE ||
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
- John Koenig
All The Strangers We forgot We Met
Take a moment to consider where you are as you read these words. As your eyes move along this page, somewhere in this world a man is leaving his house for a quick errand. As he makes his way along the sidewalk, his attention is pulled from the ground and into the sky. He becomes transfixed, oblivious and deaf to the activity of the city. It was as if, after 30 years of life, he was seeing the sky for the first time.
Just as a smile begins to form on his face, he slams shoulders with a pedestrian walking past him. The man apologizes to the teenage passerby, to which the kid assures the man that he is alright.They greet each other a good day and head their separate ways, unaware of the thread that they share. Neither one recognized the other other. The man and kid will go about their lives, forever unaware that they were father and son - a bond dodged by a young man who left a pregnant woman for a life with less consequence.
As the man and his abandoned son continue along their paths, somewhere else in this world there is a public swimming hole. This body of water is surrounded by a biome of trees and suburban wildlife. On this beach children play in the sandy shore as their parents relax and supervise. Among these children is a little girl. She has a beautiful head of brown hair that her mother cut short. She has an adorable smile with dimples that never seem to go away. She hums to herself as she makes piles of sand, uninterested in all of the other children accompanying her on the beach.
She continues to hum and make piles of sand, when an old worn-out bracelet washes up on the shore next to her. She notices the bracelet ebbing and flowing with the tide, but mistakes it for a dead snake. She screams and runs back to her parents.
After telling her mother what scared her, the mom lightly and without worry walks over to take a look.
"Oh, honey" She endearingly shouts back.
"It’s only an old mossy bracelet"
The woman then stares at the bracelet with a confused familiarity.
"Hmm," she says to herself.
"Talk about dejavu"
She closes the bracelet in her hand.
Not that the girl - or anyone - would care to know the story behind this bracelet, but it belonged to a man who swam in the lake ten years ago.
This woman then goes on with her life, raising her kids and loving her husband as much as she can despite not being in love with him. The bracelet, for reasons she never could solidify, will remain a souvenir from that day at the beach; a non-descript decoration on the mantle with other vacation memorabilia.
Her husband would ask why she kept that old thing, and she would always tell him that it’s a cute memory of their daughter. But the truth is that she didn’t know why she kept it. She just knew she wanted to keep it, unaware of the fact that the bracelet belonged to the first and only person she fell in love with.
She was young. Her and the boy would often go to the beach at night to swim, play, and make love.The boy always wore a beaded hemp bracelet, and hadn’t taken it off for years. One night, they were wrestling in the water when the boy realized he lost his bracelet. She tired to calm him as he frantically clawed through the water looking for it. She never did know why he loved the bracelet so much. Whenever she asked, he’d smile and say that we all have our secrets.
Eventually they would give up looking for it and resume their play.
Years would past, bringing change and more of the same. Though neither of them ever wanted it to happen, they eventually grew apart.
He had become addicted to traveling, and she had become addicted to her studies. Distance made faith to each other wear thin. She would soon meet the man she is now married to, and her old lover would remain an unmarried nomad.
He learned about her engagement when he got back from his travels. He was devastated. He loved her too much to attend the wedding, so he went off the radar. Although she knew it all along, it took her two years to fully accept how big of a mistake she made. Thoughts and memories of him plagued her for years, until she eventually found the strength to let go and file him away in the past. Then a sort of miracle occured.
With the pregnancy and the birth of her daughter he was soon forgotten altogether.Fifteen years later, his lover’s daughter finds the bracelet and mistakes it for a snake. On the day the woman unknowingly picked up her lover’s bracelet, the man exhaled his last breath. He had gotten in a car crash and died on the way to the hospital.
The woman would soon go on to wear the bracelet, never realizing whose it was.