cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Category: thoughts

Feliz día del padre

Por si hoy tiene silencios que preferirías callar, ¡aliento!

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Lesson of the work week

Aprender a manejar las expectativas de gente poco realista

Maturity

Maybe maturity is when you stop fucking around, admit your limitations, and make yourself responsible for them instead of being clueless every time your life fucks up because of them.

I thought I was being responsible by spending the entire day after work labeling, categorising, and tallying all my financial transactions in 2018 as part of my resolution to start using a budget. But instead I hardly ate, didn’t leave the house, didn’t see humans all day, felt sad as I was going to bed, didn’t sleep through the night, and woke up in such a terrible mood today that I decided to work from home (which means I will once again not see humans or get enough exercise).

Today’s lesson in maturity: stop pretending you’re a machine that can be abused and still function decently. It’s not about indulgence, it’s about treating yourself well so you can feel and work and live well.

Fruit

Bruised fruit is the sweetest.

Learned helplessness

Once escape from abuse is achieved, the enemy becomes the learned helplessness that has settled into different parts of your thoughts, your reasoning, reactions, and decisions.

From Wikipedia:

From these experiments, it was thought that there was to be only one cure for helplessness. In Seligman’s hypothesis, the dogs do not try to escape because they expect that nothing they do will stop the shock. To change this expectation, experimenters physically picked up the dogs and moved their legs, replicating the actions the dogs would need to take in order to escape from the electrified grid. This had to be done at least twice before the dogs would start willfully jumping over the barrier on their own. In contrast, threats, rewards, and observed demonstrations had no effect on the “helpless” Group 3 dogs.

Here’s to learning how to suspend belief in the entrenched realities of your lived experience, trust others enough to listen when they are telling you there is a way out, and learning how to pick your legs up and throw yourself over the barrier that will set you free.

Infinite Jest

Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.

What is unfair can be a stern but invaluable teacher.

p. 174

I’ve been feeling a lot of pain recently, lamenting things in the past that happened. I’ve been carrying these phrases with me like talismans, reaching for them and feeling them soothe me when the sadness and anger well up and burn.

What is it exactly that can be learned from that which is unfair?

That it’s easy for it to happen, that to some extent it’s best to factor in a wide margin for it, otherwise your life is going to be a hell of a lot more difficult.

That surviving it will require you to harden, but recovering from it will require you to open up again and be vulnerable.

That it’s important to struggle against it, but take care to not let it poison your life or kill you. (How exactly to strike this balance is a lesson that likely spans an entire lifetime, sometimes more.)

That it’s really easy to be unfair. It’s a path of low resistance, at least initially. It’s important to try to be conscientious of the ramifications of your actions.

That many times you don’t usually think you’re being unfair when you are.

From what I hear, acceptance and forgiveness are what can set you free from it. This is a lesson I have yet to learn, but I’m trying.

Vivir a propósito y no por costumbre

– You need to learn how to not be tough
– Hah! What am I if not tough? What is left of me outside of my being tough?
– Lots. What’s left is what you are without the pain. If you learn to do it, you would finally be free to live how you want to

Conversación con la princesa de las flores de primavera

Hustle

I just woke up from a dream where I was trying to take a literature exam given by my epi methods prof that was for some reason very necessary and important. A lot was in the balance. I hadn’t read the texts, so I am trying to read a modern rewriting of a Greek tragedy with a female protagonist (Antigone, but in the rewriting her name was Penelope) in my dream and answer short essay questions about it. Except I was 100% actually trying to do this in my dream. I remember reading the pages, seeing illustrations in the book, and trying to formulate the best answers that I can on lined paper while also trying to hook up with this gorgeous black young woman, a gymnastics athlete who was staying in the same apartment as me. But as I am trying to call my prof to ask him if I can have an extension on this mail-in exam, I am freaking out, because this is important.

I wake up stiff with adrenaline. Lying with my eyes wide, I realize that I am still dragging the legacy of an childhood spent with an abusive parent, that I am still undoing the habits, the tendencies, the myriad learned responses that affect every interaction I have. I kept hoping that now, after moving to a different country, now, after having gotten an education, now, after building a life independent of my family, now, after having a stable relationship with a life partner, now, after over ten years of a new life, that I have finally passed, but in reality, my relationship with my long-term partner still failed after having suffered from so much that I just could not fix, I am still prone to feeling inadequate and inconsequential at work, I am still inordinately hurt and defensive by people who are rude to me. In the shower I realize that my heart is so fixated on this exam, so stuck on wanting to have passed.

But the exam is ongoing and there is no moment when it is truly done. And in fact, I am very much struggling right on along, doing what I can. I have friends for whom I would put my hands in fire and who would do the same for me, and a vibrant, supportive community that I cherish being a part of. I have an amazing job that I love with hilarious, thoughtful coworkers. I have a family that loves me with the passion of the sun and that are beautiful, complex, rich beings that root me to the world. I have a mostly sunny disposition, but still willing to dig a bit deeper, and face the murky aspects of things. I am healthy and have the fire and fuel necessary to push, search, learn, tinker, fight, and love as long as the days allow. And that is a great gift.

Sympathy for the saintly

I remember reading that Puritans were so obsessed with sin that they found it everywhere. The more they wanted to be free of sin, the more they policed themselves and realized that, oh shit! That was a sinful thought. And so was that one. And so was hers. We are all in a mortal fight with the Devil for our souls.

It occurs to me now that an analogous thing happens today is systems of oppression. Progressive types, myself included, see the entire world as a collection of differing shades of oppressive forces at work in ourselves, in our neighbours, in the world. It was classist of me to avoid talking to the janitor and avoid making eye contact with the homeless guys (the indigenous ones, young ones, old ones, hungry ones, the ones sleeping) in the metro stations. My hesitation about this immigration policy is coloured by xenophobic logic. This politician is exploiting the Islamophobia of this country, and people I know are falling for it. This employment questionnaire discriminates against people who have experiences mental illness. Why do I keep noticing people when they are black? Is it racist of me to smile at them because they are visible minorities? We are all in a ceaseless struggle with personal prejudice and institutionalized discrimination for social justice in our communities.

Thing is, the first used to appear obviously superstitious and even whimsical to me, whereas the second could not be more painfully true. Realizing the parallels makes me think that 1. perhaps there is a set way of thinking that is part of how we think and process the world around us, regardless of the content, and 2. that the Puritans make more sense to me now, because oppression is the sin of the athiest, socially concious worldview.

Hurt to hurt

When we’re hurt or scared, we become rigid, inflexible. When we are inflexible, we are unable to feel what is happening with others. It is in our rigidity and inability to empathize with others that we hurt them. It’s tragic: pain begets more pain.

I believe hurt is what people refer to as evil. But because we are all human, all shades of grey, we all are guilty of hurt, scared evildoers, as well as beautiful angels of forgiveness and healing love. We are all scared, we are all hurt, we all hurt others. In big ways or small, we do it. We must learn to accept our pain, and the pain we inflict on others, and learn how to live with ourselves somehow. We need to, otherwise we can’t learn to be less hurtful to others.

I hope this year to be more understanding of the pain I have given others and that others have given to me. I hope to cultivate the strength to work on the fears I have. I hope to cultivate the strength to be less callous to the people and the world around me. No one is expiated until we all feel repentance, no one is free until we are all healed.