f@#k the bucket

bucketlist2

The marketing department of planet earth spends outrageous amounts of time and exorbitant monies directing our desires in hopes that we’ll buy or do whatever they’re selling, earning further money only to shell it out again to persuade us to get something else where they gain even more $$, forever and ever, Amen.

Thereby, a common occurrence in my therapist chair is that many people don’t know what they truly want. If they’re teenagers or emerging adults, that makes sense—due to developmental phases, and, simplistically, to pervasive parenting styles that dismiss kids’ feelings instead of helping them to organize their emotions effectively. Ultimately, we erase who we are.

The tragedy is that many/most adults operate from what they don’t want—usually past pain—and subconsciously spend their life ‘avoiding.’ Default living is—unquestionably—sad.

To counteract this, certain souls design “bucket lists,” activities to do or objects to acquire before they die. But are those lists actually what they want, or what they’ve repetitively been told they want? Russell Brand in “Messiah Complex,” warned, “Choose your heroes carefully or the culture will choose them for you.” Damn right.

The problem I’ve found with people who write bucket lists is that they approach life from the head—not the heart—equipped with an agenda, a checklist of achievements instead of an unrehearsed, yet inspired, evolution of deep living. Meaning, one moves from the inside out, following one’s true natural rhythms of imagination and eagerness.

In making art or writing, I may start with a ‘plan’ of sorts but the poem or piece rarely follows it. Often the spark that set it going gets edited out. All art moves organically, or it wouldn’t be art. See: is this art? who’s an artist? for the rant-ress’ take on that issue.

So, how do we know if we’ve been culturally indoctrinated—because fads come and go even if they seem authentic at the time—or if what we feel we’d want is genuinely ours? Contemplating these questions might help clarify:

  • I would do this experience even if I couldn’t tell anyone or no one saw/read/heard about it.
  • I’d choose/buy this even if everyone I know thought it was foolish or strange.
  • I wouldn’t feel superior to anyone if I accomplished/acquired it, or inferior if others did and I hadn’t.
  • If I never publish that novel, hike the Overland Track in Tasmania or produce an album, but enjoy the process of practice/training, would that suffice?

In the land of high expectations, disappointment and regret lurk around the next bend. Second-guessing, insecurity and greed is the head’s static frequency. One-upping for the epic, the extreme or the remote, spoils spontaneity and joy, dangerously disrupting the spirit. In fairy-tales, the princess who’s fake-friendly to the frog for her magic desires has very different energy than the princess who’s convivial for kindness’ sake. So, please be kind; stop comparisons! They never feel right even when you’re ‘on top.’

Check our culture’s paradigm at your heart’s door. Honor your soft-bellied Self.

For a refreshing antidote to bucket lists, see: 30 Things to Do Before You Die

love, sad, love, sad, love, sad, sad love

Banksy

Valentines Day can be such a pain.

Not because I don’t have a sweetheart (I do), not because I dislike marketing holidays (gawd, I do) and not because I have an aversion to the pudgy winged moppet with a weapon as it’s mascot (yup). It’s because this holiday causes such angst, agony and loneliness—maybe more than being homeless on Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. During those holidays, others compassionately invite the forsaken in, churches & charities prepare turkey dinners and gift giving trees for the indigent and the lonely. Everyone—if they want it—has somewhere to go.

On Valentine’s day? Niente, nada, nothing. No Valentine’s philanthropy for the loveless, no support groups for the lost-to-love crowd. Maybe a therapist?

When I teach creative writing in middle or high school, I watch how this lack of a bf creates such distress. The days leading up to Valentine’s, it’s what most girls are discussing and there’s a covert, schizoid scramble to get coupled before the dreaded day hits so you’re not shamefully solo. But it doesn’t end there. Afterwards, the competition is fierce as to who’s boyfriend was better, what he gave, said, sacrificed.

This sends those poor boys who are ofttimes are out of practice when it comes to gifts and shopping running a deranged, commonly last minute dash to get the ‘perfect’ present, do the ideal over the top thing.

Doesn’t differ that much in adults. If I had a nickel for the times I’ve heard men and women feel satisfied about how this holiday panned out—I’m in my 50s—I’d have about 70 cents.

Before this was a marketing holiday, its power to seriously wound was small. Indeed, it was fun, especially as a child. Even if Mary got seven valentines and I got three, it wasn’t sheer devastation though we all knew who the class cootie was. Most of us constructed simple hearts adorned with doilies, glitter and a glued-on desiccated candy hearts professing, “Be Mine” and bestowed them to best friends, family, teachers.

Now, it’s often a contest of size, swank, hip, yuppie-mom-made, dollar store duds or Disney given-equally-to-all. Merchandised ‘love’ is force fed to us continuously from every conceivable outlet weeks ahead. Adults steal every holiday and ruin it. Sigh.

When my kids were little, we’d all make valentine’s for each other—some with poems, some not—all customized. As a kid, my parents did small things, if any, for each other but my mamma would compose a personalized poem for each of my brothers and me, paste them onto red hearts she’d cut out of construction paper and doilies and place them on our plates at the breakfast table before school.

That felt like real love…because it was.

There’s more to loving than just the smitten sort. See help me, I think I’m falling…in “distraction” again for further discussion of the disruption that romantic love causes when elevated above the other three loves.

Maybe cherishing yourself, along with honoring all manner of intimacy might be a better way to venerate love than filling a ‘slot’ with just any person, or turning affection into a competition.

newness: routine vs. rapacity, part 2

For me, it’s really irritating to live in an indulgent society where greed for “stuff,” bucket lists, extreme experiences, and lately any experience/substance/body that one hasn’t encountered is considered cool (see wagging dicks, bouncing bosoms: newness, part 1). “Doing” instead of “being” the quintessential.

The extremes are obvious but it’s the ubiquitous invisible beliefs constantly studied and then media-fed to us that slay me. One crystal realm to see this subconscious struggle is with pre-teens and teenagers—one of the most beautifully vulnerable and most denigrated groups in our society— between what their spirit was born to do: connect, care, do “right,” play and what this dysfunctional society says is phat, hip, cool, or “fun.” Most of them forgo real fun for what’s hot, trendy.

Doing something one loves more than a couple of times, eating at the same restaurant, going in depth with an avocation, well, that’s “boring.” NEW is usually better than the same hike, meal, restaurant, the same genitals, activity, shoes, city, country… And even if we do repeat (and we all do) what we love that isn’t deemed cool, it’s like some senior-old-person guilty pleasure that we often justify or apologize for.

I like adventure and I like routine. We confuse NEW with true challenge and depth with monotony. Too many shallow “challenges” in life create chaos. Not enough sagacious varietal experience generates boredom.

O, the societal sin of being familiar. There’s middle ground; extreme breeds crazy.

Previous generations who stayed where they were, took road trips with the kids, (mostly) stuck to ethical mores, acted responsible (able to respond), invested serious effort in vitalizing their kids, had valid fulfilling work, well, celebrations and NEW were significant and meant something. “Special” wasn’t a daily seek & slake.

As with all mammals, routine establishes a sort of safety that authentically gives us the courage to face authentic stimulating challenges. Think art, writing, starting a business or learning to play an instrument. The NEW, the extremes, they see-saw our lives into addiction, impulsiveness, dot-to-dot existence and acting the goat. This is the stuff of undeveloped brains, like adolescents or emerging adults, because their cerebral matter isn’t all there yet.

If you’re under the age of 25, you get to be foolish and not see the bigger picture; this is your job. NEW is made for you! This is how you discover your bona fide Self. If you’re older than that, geez, you’re choosing immaturity and there’s no excuse.

Our culture is sophomoric because marketing likes it this way. Many of us don’t spend time thinking beyond the first spoon fed media thought. Time to act the adult and think deeper.

Being mature doesn’t have to mean humdrum, sexless, unmotivated. Really people, the infantile United States-ian “forever adolescent” is pathetically vanilla. And boring.