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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Everything’s working out for me.

I had initially told my employer I could stay for one more year. I’d thought it through carefully and come to the conclusion that the money was good and I could keep pumping my business ventures. But when it came time to sign the contract, I got sick about it.

Actually, the truth is, from the moment I told her I’d do it, I had this feeling of loss of good breath, like I was literally, subtly suffocating. Then when the day came to sign, I felt like shit. My heart was pounding, I kept having to go to the bathroom. I just couldn’t do it. Contextualize this within a year and a half that’s been mostly in good states and you’ll see how much this was fucking up my groove.

So I decided to try to make the move South, to the middle of Taiwan, a much nicer place. But I needed to know if the money would work out. I’d already asked MaZu if my business would still be prosperous if I made the move to TaiChung and she’d said yes, but I wanted to be sane about it all.

So, I put the numbers down on paper and realized that I had plenty of money. In fact, if I am a bit careful about my spending during the month of August, I’ll be able to complete my contractual payment obligation to my Engineer, visit Thailand for more or less than a month, and land back in Taiwan with about four times as much cash as I started with this last time I landed here.

So, I told my employer today that I just wasn’t willing to sign on for another year. I apologized if I’d misled her and I explained that I was getting burned out and I was trying to make the best decision for my own sense of well-being. She actually said if I ever change my mind, she will be happy to sign another contract with me. Wow…..  a better outcome than I could have reasonably hoped for.

What do I notice with all of this? I had grown stagnant in ways I hadn’t imagined. And the need to organize things and pare stuff down is already breathing energy back into my rutted oxcart.

I plan to do a 10 day long Vipassana meditation retreat in Thailand, and I’m nervous about whether I’ll have the courage and the metal it takes to actually get the practice to work. Some part of me flirts with certainty that I’ll end up in the bottom 10%, some lack of courage or wherewithal preventing me from getting much out of it, forever thinking of it as “meh” while my inner knowing of my own failure in the matter gnaws at me forever — only to go back and try again years later, and get only some scant success with it then.

But I’m hoping that’s not the case. As much as all this fear of failure and inadequacy is bugging the shit out of me, I’m excited to move towards some progress, at least waking me up to an extent. Insight, clarity, growth and inspiration are worth a lot more than money in most cases.

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So I was considering what to do with my job situation. I asked my supervisor for an opinion in order to strike up a conversation to keep the lines of communication open in case I wanted to sign another contract with them. Also, I needed to know something about the number of vacation days on the contract which, as it is written, is quite ambiguous. Depending on the interpretation of that, I was ready to sign up again immediately.

She was initially almost in tears asking me if I was going to marry my girlfriend. This threw me a little off, because I thought my supervisor had gotten over her attraction to me and just considered me a friend. I made a pretty dismissive comment about the idea in order to calm her down and then proceeded to talk to her about the amount of vacation time I would have.

Now, I’ve been in friendly enough terms with my supervisor that she already knows I want to take a ten day Vipassana meditation time. Also, she knows I was speaking with a Zen teacher a well. What was interesting was the amount of condemnation she ended up heaping onto my wanting to do these things. She is, herself, a Buddhist and had scheduled a meeting with a famous teacher on the South of the island during Chinese new year. Instead of attending the meeting, she cancelled it and rode horses all week long.

Now, what’s interesting is the elaborate reasoning she comes up with about my spending time meditating. The thing is, she does it in a way that appears quite well-meaning, and remarkably sincere. Her favorite is, “you probably already have the answers” to which I responded, “yes, perhaps, but I am looking for a teacher or some time to spend to help me see them for what they are” and she goes on that I’m impatient (to which I respond, I’m not hurting to wait, but I’m also not trying to waste any time) or that I’m being selfish (to which I respond, I am kind to others, but it seems that if I’m completely lost, I may not even know what kindness IS) or that I think too much (but anyone whose spent time meditating has discovered that yes, you think WAY THE FUCK TOO MUCH, and meditation is the only hope you have to get that chatter to cease)….

How sincere and reasonable she is in all this, enough that I found it unsettling. Mind you, it didn’t seem like “attacks” or anything at the time. I am sure that in her mind, it’s all kindness and “realistic” ways of thinking of things (as if pragmatism demands selling one’s soul to join some world of conformity). I was thrown off by all this until I remembered the beginning of the conversation. Then I remembered that she is in love with me and wants me to stay near her, and every things she says is to serve that purpose. Does SHE even realize this?  My guess is no.

Pretty much everything is a tactic, a ruse, or a strategy. Even being honest just gives one a personal sense of justification, and a socially granted one as well. Ghandi, along with plenty of Jewish scholars and Christian theologians, pointed out that Jesus’s ideas about turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, and giving someone who sues you for a cloak, your shirt along with it might have been very strategically useful for the oppressed Jews of his time. I’m not saying that it’s ‘wrong’ in any sense, to use whatever method one feels is most congruent and effective in order to finish a task, I’m just saying that it is what it is.

I teach kids. I see this every day. Doing well on a test gets appreciation and acceptance from teachers and parents, and a boost to mood and feelings of personal security and well-being. 99% of my kids don’t give a shit about learning ENGLISH per se. When someone sees a reason to learn it, like my student who loves computers and noticed that the BIOS is always in English, my job is easy and they learn quickly. Until they get inspired, I just manipulate social cookies to coerce and convince them to do what I want them to. It’s a sickening game sometimes.

“Following the rules” may be anything from a way to manipulate others into giving one what one wants to a way to feel justified in self-pity when things don’t go one’s way. “Nice” is a nice way to create a reality that believes oneself to be a “good person” or some such crap. At the worst, ones self righteousness is a game to build ones own ego without reproach because you can threaten anyone that gives you a well-deserved ass kicking else with state violence. The thing is, I’ve played all these games, and I watch kids do it, and I watch people do it, and I’m sick and fucking tired of it, in myself more than anybody else!

So, it’s hard as fuck to know what I’m doing right now. I’ve looked inside myself and seen the same thing. I, yes I, use an immense amount of sincerity as a means to an ends… I use a ‘pragmatic approach’ sometimes, or a ‘ruthless’ one, or ‘the one that fits the situation’ but it all seems to be ego-gratifying as well as basically self-serving WHATEVER I do. What I would give right now to know my own truest intention!

From a standpoint of innocence and pure intention, means is irrelevant. You are always choosing means anyways, to serve whatever intention you have. And until I am coming from a standpoint of innocence and pure intention, even honesty is a lie.

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I was reading the most recent chapter of the book I’m helping my friend to edit. One of the sections came to an end and I was hit hard by it, as this chapter is continually doing to me.  So I let out a little whimper, a little mewling kitten sound.  It made me sick.

Now, the thing about this sound, it precisely reminds me of my mom.  It’s the kind of sound that someone who is struck by something in a self-pitying way, but doesn’t even have enough decency to let out the full yelp of it will make. It’s even a little contrived. Simply a dispicable worthless expression of weakness wrapped in miles of complex defenses and a disingenuous grasping, utterly lacking self-confidence.  It’s precisely the attribute I hate most about myself.  I catch it sometimes in a gesture, a sound, a few words, a posture, something I spoke.

Mom doesn’t know how to be herself. She tries so hard, but I’m quite certain she hasn’t a clue who she is. Sometimes she gets an inkling of an idea and holds to it like grim death, goes on a religious kick for awhile, takes up smoking out of rebellion, drops smoking in a fit of self-realization, dresses differently, talks with a thick Southern accent, buys a gun, does her hair differently….  any number of things that seem like such a horrifying veneer of tension and falsehood slapdashed over a personality that is desperately avoiding the fact of its own weakness.

Now, for me to hate this aspect of my mom so much, and mistrust her so deeply for it, mustn’t it also be the very thing I hate most about myself?

So….  for once.  For fucking ONCE in my life, I was just fine with it. I didn’t despise it in myself at all. In fact, even as I write this and feel the tendrils of contrivance born of some weak spirit creeping into my writing, I just let it be.  What else can I do?

What does it even matter if the salty food kills me and I have a heart attack?  What is the furthest possible reach, the bottom of the well of my own weakness and why am I so damned terrified of it?  I can only die, and I’m going to do that shortly anyways (relatively speaking?  What’s fifty years or ten or three?)…

And just last night the question, “who am I?”  Had finally been reinvigorated from mere technique to the blistering yearning need to answer it above everything else…  So..  Something is obviously changing.  You cannot stay dead forever!

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Years ago I took the LSAT.  I kept pre-testing in the 169-170 range with occasional tests as high as 174. And I was time constraining myself, using real LSATs, etc. I even did things like take the worst of four to six test sections in order to try and lower my score. So I felt quite excited about taking the test.

Well, test day came and I bombed it at 164. A mere 90th percentile borders on a waste of test paper when it’s one that 150,000 people take every year. At least that’s how I felt about it. I wrote good essays and applied late to a few schools.  I had some acceptances and some decent scholarship offers. At the end of it all I opted not to go when it was time to sign for loans. I didn’t really want to be chained to law school and debt. Maybe the gods were looking out for me when I got that crappy score, since I think I’m better off not having gone. It would have been harder to say “no” to Columbia U.

Just this morning I woke up with one of those flights of fancy where I was considering taking the test again. I think I could do a lot better. My kung fu is better, and I have a clearer mind.  Maybe I could get a near perfect score and go to Harvard or something. The funny thing is I no longer even have aspirations to become a lawyer. I like my life as a teacher, designer, and indy manufacturer, which are probably more congruent with my character anyways.

But I still got such a cool feeling from thinking about it, considering what it would be like to do it. It’s so easy to think through possibilities and get all kinds of tingly pleasurable feelings. And for once I realized that must be my real intention, the peaceful blissful feeling the fantasy gives me. Even when I’m working towards doing it, in the middle of the difficult parts, I’m thinking it may be that feeling of bliss based on the fantasy of where it will take me that keeps me going. I’m bothered by the notion that might be my real main intention.

So this morning I said “fuck it” for a few minutes and just enjoyed that feeling, since it seems to be all I want most of the time anyways. This got me reflecting on my business. I wonder if I could set aside those feelings for awhile and have a clearer head about the steps I can take to make my manufacturing venture more successful. Thus far, lovely designs, pre-orders, generating buzz…  all that is just serving the purpose of giving me some sort of high. I suspect getting paid will make me feel the same. It’s not as if I don’t have plenty of money now, so what does more of it do for me?

But if that’s REALLY my only intention, effectively an ego gratification, then why not just enjoy the fantasy, draw it all out….  of one falls through, pick up another one. I’m afraid I might do just that. In fact, I’m wondering at this point just how much I *am* doing just that, with Wujifa, meditation, business, even my relationship with my lover. Surely this begs me to look further, to see if I have intentions beyond just feeling bright, shiny, and blissed out.

And why do these fantasies make me feel those lovely feelings? Maybe because the thoughts of my goals make me feel special, stroke my ego, gratify my sense of self. I determined awhile ago that my fear seems to be lack of something to identify with, to think of myself as being. But SURELY there has to be worthy intention beyond that empty naval-gazing roller coaster of a life. At the very least, I must have some intention beyond sensations. What is it?

Perhaps if I knew then I would take my Wujifa practice more seriously, make better decisions in my business, and contribute more to my students. Maybe I would find more depth in my relationship with my girlfriend, and contribute better insight to her.

Perhaps I could get past this plateau in meditation.

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Why would I ever make someone pay for knowledge I have that could potentially improve them? I think of a blogger I know who sells “how to live an extraordinary life” ebooks and travels from the profit. Basically life porn for people too scared or naive to make the leap (judgment I guess). He certainly has knowledge and can profit from it.

I think back to Thoreau’s recounting of the indian in Walden. The Indian makes baskets and tries to sell them in town and gets miffed that people are not buying them and Thoreau thinks he should have asked why go into business in the first place? (Thoreau is a smart ass though ;).

What of the coupon-clipping wife bloggers? The ones who sell seminars to teach women how to buy $300 with of groceries for $20 using coupon and promotion tricks. What of them? If they have the secret, shouldn’t they give it out. And what of a life playing off of primate-created technicalities like grocery rules?

What of guest bedrooms and their necessity? What happened to guest tents?!!?

Do I need money to live in this world? It sure seems like I do.

M

My Reply:

M,

I watched Zeitgeist 3 and I was so turned on by it that I almost turned my synth project into all open-source stuff…  I basically think capitalism as we know it now is going to prove itself to be a sinking ship.

Then I put a lot of focus into what Jesus said, “be as innocent as a dove but as wise as a serpent.”  I realized that if I cut my own profits I wouldn’t be getting more instruments to poor college students who just love electronic music, I’d be saving money for egotistical gear whores who want to think they’re cool because they have an unauthorized Buchla copy.
So I’m keeping the trade secrets and selling the sizzle ofunauthorizedclone.com to those people…  because frankly, they want it.  It’s like I’m a prostitute giving them a blow job.  If I stopped selling blow jobs, they’d go pay somebody else or maybe date rape a girl or something….  so I’m just going to peddle my wares as long as there are people who are slaving away under the illusion that you get what you pay for, and if it ain’t expensive it isn’t worth having.
And eventually I can make bigger runs and get plastic housings
made and probably get the synths out to poor college kids.  Plus, with the money I have, me and my sweetheart can spend time fucking in a lot of different countries.  Eventually, maybe I can fulfill my age-old dream of helping child prostitutes, but I have to have some cash on hand before I can do much for them.  I think Steven Covey refers to all this as a “win-win.”
Seriously, I wouldn’t worry about if you “should” “make someone” “pay” for “your knowledge.”  If I was working in a leper colony I wouldn’t dare charge those people a dime.  And they’d probably offer me all the food and free place to stay that I could ever want.  But, we’re currently trying to operate in a specific system, and instead of “lepers” we’re just playing Jesus….
….to the lepers in their heads….
Oh yeah it’s one love, one life….
Okay, so the U2 break doesn’t really cut it but like, seriously, if you’ve got something to offer, people might not even value it if you give it away.  What do you think is the difference between a $150 an hour escort and a $1000 an hour escort?  Have you ever looked into escorts before?  You can get an astoundingly beautiful woman for $150 an hour.  Yet senators and such want the exotic $1000 an hour ones.  Maybe they beat them up, or get beaten up or piss all over each other or something, I don’t know.  And all the same, I’m sure I’ve spent the last coupla years having better sex with my lovers than they’re going to get for all that money.
Still, there’s a demand for the $1000 an hour prostitute.  Do you need some kind of moral judgement to prevent you from fulfilling that demand?  Who is doing the judging?  Why?  What would such judgement do for you?
Love,
J

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The heart knows no boundaries.

Yet, I reach for some sort of content.

In love, The universe answers my questions, and my heart feels a pure and simple connection, like a great silver liquid flowing freely.  I can follow freely, not based on exclusivity, but simply following a knowingness.  Truth is, I can do little else.

Yet, I try to fill in details, to make a love story.  I correspond birthdays, or I look for commonalities.  This is why a book about the heart of magik lacks any sort of formulas.

In ethics, who is watching?  Who might I be justifying myself to?  What image of myself do I wish to believe?  What morality is there on an island alone?  Or in the darkness of sensory deprivation in my own apartment?  What about when I am alone on the street?  So which one am I holding internally RIGHT NOW and why?  Such fine, subtle deceptions, though they hint at morality, they masquerade as ethics…  However, with no reference point other than self-trust, the purest heart is born, the most innocent of intentions open up.

Free of ethics, they may seem unethical.

Free of morality, this may seem immoral.

But I haven’t glimpsed a purer light.

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I blindfolded myself for about a day.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but the sensory deprivation, the lack of visual stimuli to distract myself with simply put me against my own patterns after a few hours.

I can see some of the circles I was always aware of.  For example, I treat being transgendered like a kind of addiction, and I guess inasmuch as it can become an obsession, it resembles almost any other addiction.  However, every time I put it down, sometime thereafter I just notice, clearly, my own femininity, my own sense of being a woman blatently staring at me.  Then, when I try and embrace that identity, I find the trap that I cannot simply crossover into being that, either, so I find myself reaching for more, as that identity is comfortable, and then I’m back into the addiction part of it again. . . once I realize I’m acting like this, I let go again, the way I’d put down painkillers or booze, and eventually seem to repeat the cycle when I realize I’m not simply a man either.

I’m good at conditioning myself, and testing for what is conditioning and what is not.  I started this after a family at the church I grew up in, who had converted from Islam to Christianity, had converted back to Islam in a time of family crisis.  I realized then and there that 99% of religious sentiment must just be finding comfort in the familiar, like the way a wounded and dying soldier might cry out for his long gone mommy.

So I set about to simply condition every attachment to Christianity out of myself, so I could see if there was anything worthwhile left of it.  I stopped praying to Jesus in crises, and I stopped thinking about God.  I found after a couple of years that there wasn’t much of it left.  Nowadays I basically like what Jesus said about most everything the same way I like what other wonderful sages said, and I think Christians pretty much went awry by adopting Paul’s ideas.

So, in some ways I’ve done the same thing with gender.  Where I found conflict between masculinity and Femininity, I often conditioned out the masculinity, or, if I was feeling like an addict, like feeling transgendered was some unhealthy pressure inside of me, born of some kind of avoidance, I’d try to condition out femininity.  I’ve discovered that a large part of sexual orientation is alterable in this way….  but maybe I didn’t do it wholeheartedly enough with other aspects, because I keep finding a conflict inside.

To be honest, There’s an aspect of dealing with my lovers where I don’t trust them.  Thus far these have mostly been women, so mostly it comes up in relation to women, though I feel a touch of it in relation to men as well.  Basically I expect to be twisted, manipulated, and thrown away, as I don’t think anyone sees anything in me worth the courage and patience to build a significant connection with.

What else did I find whilst blindfolded?  Well, I have seen the desire to fit in and to conform set a huge burden on one of my close friends.  And last week I noticed it creating tightness and stiltedness in another of my good friends.  In my state of semi-sensory deprivation, I noticed it in myself.  It was odd to move towards the fridge, just to get a bottle of milk to put on my cereal and catch myself imagining how I look from outside, imagining someone else’s positive or negative judgments.  For god’s sake, this was in my apartment by myself!

Internal dialogue is mostly preceded by internal pictures.  Without these imaginations of others to compare to, there is also very little to set up as a dialogue.

After removing the blindfold, I noticed every brick in every building, I noticed every reflection off the windows, I saw the limits of my eyesight clearly, I even differentiated dirt on my glasses from blurry vision.  I walked outside and enjoyed everything I could see, the month of February being a beautiful one in Taiwan.  And I stopped while I was walking and focused on “who am I?”  Simply waited to see where *I* wish to go, what I thought right, regardless of the judgments of others.  I couldn’t find clarity in this.  I guess one of the hardest things is to trust myself.

Every moment has the promise of change in it, the promise of the infinite.  I’m terrified even as I speak the words out loud, “I’m ready to let go of this, I’m ready to let go of all the talking inside my mind and I’m ready to let go of the false identities I try and build.”  This time I didn’t say it to Ganesha, or to Kuan Yin, but simply to life itself.  And the feeling was immediately like a good break-up, where I feel a sense of loss of the familiar, but simultaneously a deep calm breath, a feeling of “rightness.”  Now, like any intention born of innocence, I only need to combine it with courage and patience, and it will surely come to pass.

Of course, as I say all this, I even have trouble trusting anyone who might read this to not judge me.  I set it up as a dialogue with some or another person inside my mind and so easily try to push away or else justify the simple clear intention..  innocence and intention can also feel vulnerable.  And of course, that’s what I fear the most with my lovers as well — vulnerability.

This isn’t easy for me.  In both cases an intention must be combined with both patience and courage.  Patience is not merely waiting.  Patience is harder when it isn’t like enduring one state, or even a predictable cycle of states, but allowing and embracing a constant flow of changes — this is where courage comes in.

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