jon stewart should be canned and you should leave your spouse…not

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The cultural zeitgeist (particularly the USA) is now commonly about leaving. You enjoy something, love someone, are comfortable where you live, have a satisfying job, then it’s about time to abandon it and pioneer! Should you decide to remain in that city, that relationship or don that favored, shabby sweater, well, then you’re just not hip, cool, styling or groovy. Novelty has been elevated to the celestial.

A twisted view of this phenom was written by Lauren Martin here. She believes that if you don’t live in five different places in your life then you’re “settling.” For what? Unclear. Appears Martin has the attention span of an ADHA toddler except she also feels that favorite foods lose their edge!?!? No toddler would ever agree. Tell my Tuscan family—or any ethic group—who commonly ingest their exquisite cookery that it’s “stale.” Just because the USA doesn’t have a genuine cuisine that stands the winds of trendiness, doesn’t mean others should ditch their delicious dishes.

I shouldn’t be surprised—but I am—as most United States-ians live “all or nothing” lives. Whenever science proclaims a new health diet, food, exercise, disease or disorder “it” becomes Trendy. See wheat, wheat eat your wheat: foods, fads, allergies for my (March 2013) take on our modern faux-food-fad: wicked gluten. The New Yorker recently wrote a piece interpreting this mania.

Authentic living resides in the middle, not the extremes, cliché or not. Excessive change creates chaos; trivial challenge equals boredom. You don’t have to “spice up” your sex life, swap cities, eschew favorite foods or jilt your beloved to find inspiration. Exciting “puzzles” don’t have to emerge from the outside, nor should they. I’ve experienced chills of fear, hits of bliss both reading and writing. I can be high for days while “solving” something I’m working on, and I often excessively think about my art “dilemma,” similarly to being captivated by a new love.

Being a writer and an artist, I can tell you that when I’m “in the zone,” that’s the bona fide challenge I need and desire. I’m traversing the unknown, experiencing adventure, discovering! It’s flirty & fun, inspiration & bliss, terror & toil. No need to scale mountains, extreme trek or seduce a new paramour to unearth that endorphin hit. I divine it within, at home. Shocking, I know!

This doesn’t mean I haven’t lived in (more than) five places, odyssey-ed (a lot) or made other external changes. I have, but they weren’t forced from the head. Another writer once described his marriage as a “safe harbor” that afforded him the security to journey.

Jon Stewart has been heading The Daily Show since 1999. Recently Terry Gross asked him how he’d feel about undertaking something else, as Stephen Colbert is doing. The anguished ambiguity of Stewart’s answer revealed (to me) how much pressure the “collective unconscious” our culture is dispensing. Johnny Carson never had to deal with this crap in his three decades on The Tonight Show. The Daily Show is absolutely necessary to our country’s sanity, still poignant, and winning awards; why should it stop?? Because it’s not NEW??

If something/someone no longer has fine, inspiring energy, you’ll know it. You never have to decide it. Trust your guts, not your head. Breathe deep, encircle yourself with honest emotions, not random “media wisdom” and just live.

p.s. Encourage Jon Stewart to continue as USA’s court jester. He seems indispensable to revealing the “truth.”

pursuit of happiness = oxymoron

experience addition

In the last few years, “happiness” has been a major publishing craze. A plethora of books, articles and blogs were obsessed with happy. Suggestions like:

  • surround yourself with happy people (who’s authentic and cheerful all the time?)
  • think happy thoughts (if only life were that easy)
  • walk in nature (of course)
  • drink red wine (xoxo)
  • go to church (hmmmm)
  • be with family (lots will cringe at this)
  • breathe deep (yup)
  • exercise (yes)
  • do fun things (sure)
  • get high (okay)

The trouble is many people do some or all of the above and happiness still eludes them. Maybe because happiness doesn’t exist. At least not in the way marketing tells us it does. The secret to happiness won’t be found in the striving for it.

In progressive circles, the “bucket list” trend—a checklist of non-ordinary things to get done before one dies—is quite popular, but I find it wearying. Lists help me organize my life but checking things off doesn’t make me happy. I know people who raise kids, have sex, travel and live with a mindset of ticking off an agenda. That’s not living as much as orchestrating.

Where’s the ‘being with?’ Where’s the sitting still? The reflection? Residing from the inside out?

Distracting oneself from ordinary life gives momentary pleasure but that’s not being in it. If bliss lies in what you do and where you go, then you’ll be chasing experiences all your life. A ‘geographical-new mate-new job’ cure is no better than a ‘heroin-Jack Daniels-cannabis-random hook-up’ cure. One’s just culturally faddish, less moralistic. However, it only seems like you’re moving toward happiness.

I’ve got nothing against big experiences but none of them have made me any happier than brushing my cats, working with clients, playing guitar, talking with friends, writing, cooking, weeding with my grandson, reading, hiking in big trees, lake swimming, sweeping, staring at clouds, drinking red wine, washing dishes.

Here’s the deal: When we get the new relationship/new city/house/dog/tool/job we feel great but not necessarily because we’ve gotten something or done whatever, but because—for that very fleeting minute—we’re free from desire.

True happiness isn’t so much about getting what we crave, it’s about appreciating what we already have. Bertrand Russell said: “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”

If you see your life as tedious and in need of ‘amusement,’ you aren’t in your life; you’re in the future and that future is the dangling carrot just out of reach of your ravenous mouth. Distractions are delusions of delight.

It’s the gorgeous journey not the destination that’s genuinely enjoyable.

So what will work?

  • Be where you are, as you are (like a toddler)—sorrowful, laughing, angry, singing
  • Enjoy bathing your baby as much as eating foccacia in Firenze—don’t value one over the other
  • Cultivate sincere depth of connection with others
  • View play and work as identical
  • Accept what is [see after ecstasy, the laundry]
  • Appreciate what you have
  • Inspiration over Stimulation
  • Quit trying to be happy

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.

newness: wagging dicks, bouncing bosoms, part 1

Glitter, glitter, spoil and twitter.

NEW is one of the best-loved buzz words of advertisers, because it can grab immediate gratification impulse attention. It’s easy, as in sleazy.

On the other hand, the relaxed familiar is often dismissed as workaday drudge instead of cherished like broken-in boots or a favorite sweater. Favorite used to mean something one enjoyed and wanted to have again and again, like Queen Anne cherries or red wine. Somehow, whatever thing/experience has been untried is now the desired median in the U.S.: “extreme” “fresh” “novel” are cool!

Nowhere is NEW the most shaken & stirred as in un-sampled sexual partners. So, here’s a shorthand guide to securing the attention of mercurial men and women devoid of any discernible integris core, who—IMHO—within the last 15-20 years have been rising up like zombies in Shawn of the Dead:

A man, quite simple:

  1. Shake “the twins” or some “bootylicious-ness” near his eyes. Pretend you’re hot for him. Done.
  2. Call upon his inner compulsion to be the hero. Let him rescue you. Too tempting for most men to pass on this, since adoration is the hero’s opium. Cleavage helps here, too.

Warning: the above ephemeral tools have early expiration dates since they’re based in the different/unfamiliar state which by definition cannot last long.

How to get a woman, even a young hottie, when you—the man—are not so? Wagging a dick in her face won’t cut it at all; ‘turkey gizzard’ is what my long ago best friend labeled a man’s package. Instead, feign interest in her without looking at her boobies even if they are bejeweled with DIVA across them and:

  1. target her psychic wound; sympathize and connect with it. Then you can manipulate her all you want and she’ll tumble right into bed with you. This could work for the long term if you’re willing to listen to her prattle on about said torment and give her faux empathy. However, if you’re the transitory soulless type, most likely impatience will set in after the fun sexual hijinks become tarnished tediousness having been “experienced” one too many times.