A Minor Breakup Poem, Magical Optimism, and The Toxicity of Self-Pity

Thought she was my priestess,
But she was a chimera

Her head in my lap,
Eyes on fire,
Masking the truth behind black mascara and desire

Looking up to me always,
Only to let me down again
And in our tempests, I tried my best to swim

But joy perished,
And I returned to the depths within,
Where I discovered our island was an iceberg

And she didn’t have the depth to see,
How her selfishness was slowly sinking me
But now I found bravery to sail back out to sea

And so I go on, once again happy and alone
To pick up the pieces and build a home she’ll never know

And that’s okay with me

I only wish I could have seen it was a dream

But I woke up and remembered,
How no soul can exercise the ghosts within me

So I look to the horizon, past the storms that made me


Onward

This is something I learned through writer Elizabeth Gilbert: the power of onward – of moving ahead – past my own bullshit and beyond my own ignorance via the difficult and highly valuable lessons life has blessed me with. This, of course, is much easier for me to do at thirty, having aligned my perception more closely with the truths of reality, or, rather, having spent my twenties suffering enough at the hands of my own indiscriminate idealism, until I finally started to learn that not everyone deserves to share in what I can only describe as my gift for magical optimism.

And this is something I am still learning. Because I have wasted a lot of my magical optimism on others.

This is, I admit, a difficult concept to describe – as I am only coming to see this in full now – but I am discovering, in hindsight, that I have invested a lot of this magical optimism into relationships, where I put my brightest energies only to have them burn up into a vapor, a misty fog of memories. These are not regrets I am airing out, only lessons. Because moving onward, I have dreams, I have desires in my heart, things I want to build and become. And like all human beings, I have recreated my fate time and time again in different relationships, different people, holding onto the same fallacy laden hopes, destined to repeat the errors of my ways until I have seen them.

But now I am seeing. And it is in this light that I genuinely am not regretful about the trials fate has engendered through me. Of course, as I get older there are tinges of sorrow in moments, things like realizing young love is a memory, but I am wise enough at this age to choose my perspective and remain grateful I’m still relatively young.

I also remind myself that I am a better man now than I was then. And, having finally seen the foolishness of letting my stock rise and fall with relationships, I know today that I am okay, and, with that fickle security blanket called modern love once again gone, I am returning to my magical optimism, never to forget it again.

This is important because the hard truth of reality is that modern love can and often does come and go; however, you should never lose the best parts of yourself with it – even if briefly.

I will personally admit that it is easy to fall back into my own depths in the tail end and wake of a relationship. But a person must, as I am, move onward. Hence the power of the written word: to draw maps on the uncharted territory called the future. And this is what I am doing: I am designing my life, I am writing my Wikipedia page, one aware, intention filled moment at a time. Because I believe I deserve better now than I did then.

Because then – looking back across the sea of time to the shores of my twenties – I see now how I spent long spells of time completely unaware, entirely blind to all that I was or could be. In a word: I wasted a lot of my life in self-pity.

And nothing kills dreams and robs life of it’s magic more than that which we call self-pity. Nothing. Failure is a mere thorn compared to the piercing arrows we sling at ourselves in self-pity.

Self-pity will eat away at your soul, and no amount of soaking in the acid of your own sorrow can heal your wounds. They will only demand greater, more destructive palliatives to ease the pain of feeling bad. And like Ed Ricketts said, For a very long time I didn’t like myself.

My own self-loathing was almost entirely the result of the self-pity I held onto (Coupled with a lack of self-compassion [Footnote 1] and a lack of understanding that what others do is not about you – something I will touch on again).

And as is the case with all time spent in negative feeling, self-pity is a total waste of life.

Self-pity is the default answer for those whose low self-image and lack of confidence compel them to make a martyr of themselves so that they may feel that they are the hero of their own suffering. But I’m such a good person, why me!! – or whatever version of the “I didn’t do anything to deserve this” story they choose to tell themselves.

I may sound callous in making such a statement, but I can only do so because I’ve been there: no, I absolutely did not deserve my first love fucking my best friend and mentor, nor did I deserve people in my first business conducting themselves without integrity at my expense. But this is life. Some people, when it comes to the things they feel they are owed, are savages. It’s just a fact that in the course of a human life you will be the collateral damage of selfish people. Now, whether you let this stop you from going onward is up to you. I will sheepishly but unashamedly admit, I let these things stop me from a successful second love, and a successful second business. Failure was one of the costs of my self-pity.

The problem was, I simply loved people. And I took things very personally. This made me a hell of a fantastic means to other people’s ends. Thankfully, I have begun to learn that not all people are worthy of my unconditional love and my magic optimism. I’ve also started to see that it is not about me. Some people are simply selfish. And they never think they are, because they lack the compassion for others to understand how self-centered and hurtful their actions are.

This is part of the spectrum of human nature, something we think we are experts on, but in fact requires decades to learn – just as it requires decades to understand yourself.

This is why I am writing, because I am learning.

And tonight I have been reflecting on the absolute toxic nature of self-pity, of denying yourself the compassion you deserve. It’s just another fact of life that some of us can give oceans of genuine compassion and empathy to others, yet treat ourselves with nothing but crippling self-pity. This is a grave injustice to ourselves. But nonetheless, few of us ever wake the fuck up and pick ourselves up and move onward. Thankfully for me, my age is a ticking clock. I don’t want to be forty and not have spent my thirties living my dreams. In my twenties, I lived some of mine, but those dreams are mostly vapor today.

Looking onward, I want to honor the crucibles I have passed through by applying the hard-won lessons they have brought me. I don’t want to waste my magic optimism on another over-entitled partner, and nor do I want my past self-pity to again push away a good one. But more than that, I don’t want my life to be about relationships, dreams that can vaporize. I have a legacy to build. And it’s not for me or the children I don’t have, it’s for the world. My mission is bigger than getting laid. My dreams are greater than the unfortunate things I had to face to get here.

And so, once again, I look to the horizon, past the storms that made me.

Onward.


You do not need to be loved,
not at the cost of yourself.
The single relationship truly central and
crucial to life is the relationship
to the self.
It is rewarding to
find someone whom you like,
but it is essential to like yourself.
It is quickening to recognize that
someone is a good and decent
human being,
but it is indispensable to
view yourself as acceptable.
It is a delight to discover people who are
worthy of respect and admiration
and love,
but it is vital to believe
yourself worthy of these things.
For you cannot live in someone else.
You cannot find yourself in
someone else.
You cannot be given a life by
someone else.
Of all the people you
will know in a lifetime, you are the
only one you will never leave or lose.
To the question of your life,
you are the only answer.
To the problems of your life,
you are the only solution.

Jo Coudert
Advice from a Failure

Footnote 1: Self-pity is not self-compassion.

edit / addition, 11/13/15: Wisdom on Self-Pity from Charlie Munger

“Generally speaking, envy, resentment, revenge and self-pity are disastrous modes of thoughts. Self-pity gets fairly close to paranoia, and paranoia is one of the very hardest things to reverse. You do not want to drift into self-pity. … Self-pity will not improve the situation.” – C.M.

“Another thing, of course, is that life will have terrible blows in it, horrible blows, unfair blows. It doesn’t matter. And some people recover and others don’t. And there I think the attitude of Epictetus is the best. He thought that every missed chance in life was an opportunity to behave well, every missed chance in life was an opportunity to learn something, and that your duty was not to be submerged in self-pity, but to utilize the terrible blow in constructive fashion. That is a very good idea.” – C.M.

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Post Romantic Nostalgia, and Reprieve

As the sun sets earlier in the evening, I can feel myself being wrapped in the same discomforting melancholy that always calls as Autumn rolls around each year.

The thing is, while the feeling is familiar, I cannot quite put my finger on what causes it, why I feel the melancholy of dark Autumn evenings.

This year, maybe it’s just the insanity of having been in love more times than this mind can bear, but as I attempt to share my life, yet again, with another sweet girl, I can’t help but think of past seasons. Then I remember that everything ends.

But nonetheless, I hold fast to everything; I hold fast as if I never got over the past, which, it may be said, I never really have.

And maybe one day psychiatrists will classify the post romantic nostalgia that haunts those intrepid warriors of modern romance who cannot turn their love off like a light switch; but for now, one thing is certain: I’ve never been missed like this.

And it really doesn’t get easier.

You see: I fear having to draw an increasingly heavy wagon of skeletons behind me, full of the bones of past loves; I fear going insane: driven mad by post romantic nostalgia.

My past loves are phantom limbs, missing from me.

And as I live and breathe now, attempting to love another, I can’t help but fear she too is destined to haunt me.

But then I remember: everything ends.

I am one who cannot accept that nothing lasts forever.

I am one who cannot fathom that everything ends.

I am one who cannot let go; I am one who loves forever.

And I MUST do something about this.

I MUST come to terms with the inherent endings in life.

Because I wanted to grow old with every woman I ever loved.

And I came to a point this year where I decided that I couldn’t sleep with girls who didn’t care about me, because – fuck, let me tell you, it doesn’t feel good for your soul to share yourself with those who don’t care one iota about your hopes and dreams and fears.

60b63f9fce76e21c5402de5960c56537
thx Harriet V. for sending this pic to me : )

Only, I’m afraid sharing it all is just as frightening.

I’m scared of the ghosts of future past.

And I’m completely ungrateful for the ten years I’ve spent in love.

But I’m trying my damnedest to appreciate the reprieve I’ve been given.

My Reprieve

Born alone
Die alone

Nihilism’s a cold hard bed
But I sleep in anyway,
Because it’s just one more day
One more day I gotta love
One more fuck to give
And the ghosts don’t go away
The ghosts don’t go away

And the irony is: to my ghosts I am the dead one

The irony,
The grand tragedy of my life:
My memory lane remains a road to a mythological city
My own Atlantis
A place I never go,
And all I ever wanted was to look back

Who will I share my memories with
When ten years of my life are a rumor

But I remember
I remember it all

And it haunts me

So I have to figure out how to face it
Thus I write about my ghosts
And I’m tempted to say fuck you hoes
So tempted to stunt hard,
To break hearts with a Lambo and a black card

But it doesn’t make a difference,
Because ghosts are indifferent

So I’m becoming everything I can be
Since they don’t care if I spend my whole life in misery

Thanks,
Thanks,
Thanks,
Thanks,
Thanks for the memories

Now only to forget

To let go of regret

But I’m different,
Cause I’m better
I’m better,
I’m better.

And when you are cold,
I hope you wear our memories like a sweater
To comfort your lonely bones

But mine are threadbare
So I’m with a new brunette
And her heart is mine to wear

On my sleeve
On my sleeve
On my sleeve

Her love is my reprieve

And I know I may have to let go of it all,
Again and again

To love and live
To live and die
To try

It hurts like hell
When love dies

But for now
For now
For now:

She is my reprieve
And I still believe

In us.

##

The Cottage and The Castle

I took a nap this afternoon and had a very lucid dream; I dreampt I was outside of a small cottage, posting an old wooden sign bearing the namesake of my blog – only the S was gone: 7Saturday. I then heard a stirring from within the interior of the cottage, which prompted me to egress. As I walked away the French doors of the cottage opened. I turned back and explained the landlord had granted me permission to hang the sign, at which the young woman, a beautiful brunette, told me she knew this. She then asked if I would like to come inside, whereupon, after entering, she asked me if I desired to have sex with her (That escalted quickly).

Being in this small cottage, which contained scarce more than a queensize bed drapped in a white down comfoter, I felt a sense of peaceful desire. Yes, I replied.

We made the angel with four wings and it was pleasant, as she was beautiful, but I was overcome with a brooding melancholy whilst engaged. Through heavy breath, I told her that it would be so much better if we were in love. An utterance she, in closed eyes rapture, ignored.

And the dream ended; I awoke with the brooding dissapointment still with me.

What had the dream meant?

Surely it was a reflection of my deepest desire and a reminder that without Love the act has no wings. As Shakespeare wrote, we were making the beast with two backs. That isn’t to say the thing was beastly – for it was good, but it wasn’t beautiful as love in love is.

And why dost thou not love me fair lady?

Was I merely a caller who had come to her under the banner of my pen, posessing nothing but pleasing title and pleasant countenance?

I suppose I was. And for a time, I thought this enough: Lawrence Black, the writer with a good heart. But words are cheap and intention alone falls short. An identity is but a name and by any other just the same. And perhaps the lady could not love a man who called upon her at her address, one which she rented, the man having nothing beyond his person and his persona. For there are aspects to love that reside beyond the soul, in the material world. A prince charming after all has more than charm. For instance, ahem, a castle. And for that, the lady waits in want of love that brings more than the warmth of a body. For the lady lives in want of a hearth, which her cottage hath not.

And by this hearth she will be wrapped in warmth that extends beyond the reach and security of her lover’s arms. And in this castle, however large it may be (For it is larger than her cottage), a lady feels she has been chosen, rather than she has done the chosing. And I, having no castle, was but a caller, one of many perhaps, and distinguished in little more than name.

And so, through analysis, I have discovered the meaning of the dream; the truth, which, through dream, my soul has carried from depth to daylight. Truth I don’t believe any other metaphor could suffice for as elegantly or aptly. This dream reflected my reality and the way to the fulfillment of my deeper desires.

I am not yet a Prince, for no such title was mine through birth, but I will be.

A Delightful Life

Delightful day; what more can I say; I ran, I hiked, I swam, I read, I cooked, I napped – I did everything but make love, which, in itself, is another kind of delightful day, just not the one written for today. But I conspire with fate for days like that too. I’m working on it, which is to say I am working on myself. And I’ll be damned if I’m not becoming a a really decent man. As Socrates wrote, “Make yourself the sort of man you want people to think you are.” I’d like people to think, to know, that I am the man I have always known myself to be but never before was. G-d willing if I shall fall in love a third time, I will be a man worthy of making love to. It sounds silly but nonetheless, I aspire to be so.

There was a time I thought two halves could make a whole. Today and evermore I know better, for I am whole – not alone but on my own – a Man: world unto himself; complete. I’m not looking for someone to make me feel home; the world is my home, my soul no longer restless. Wanderlust has faded into a dream I no longer dream, and I no longer desire to go back in time.

I go forward, I look ahead, my lust for life deepens with my understanding of myself; I know who I am, and it’s greater than the sum of things come and gone. I am everything I am and nothing I am not (or was).

But before anyone accuse me of an excess of esteem of self-idolatry, let me be the first to tell you, I am beyond not proud of the multitude of things I have wrongly done in my life. But I am not ashamed. Shame tends to self-perpetuate; and I’ve learned, as Alice Hubbert believed, that sin is it’s own punishment. As David Foster Wallace wrote: “The parts of me that used to think I was different or better than anyone almost killed me.” No, I am neither egoic or ashamed. I am a man.

He had his foibles, his faults, and even his crimes. That is to say, he was a man. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Yes, I am a man.

But I am trying to be more human than my mistakes, as Ric Elias so beautifully put it. And I am doing a good job at this. Besides, confidence is an aspect of the soul; however, the confidence of the soul arises from wholeness, knowing yourself, virtue and vice alike – unlike the confidence of the ego, which believes it is different or better than anyone else. No, I am not good, I am whole. My heroes are no longer the Edmund Dantes’, the martyrs; my heroes are the Jean Valjeans, the true heroes, those who acheive victory over the enemy within. There is no other adversary that has defeated as many men as man himself. This is the battle each man is conscripted to fight, for victory over the self brings a peace as sweet as the defeat is sour. As the French proverb says, there is no pillow softer than a clean conscience.

And this is my pillow. I rest in the bosom of my soul, as only a man at peace with himself can.

Victory over the self is not the ego death as the guru promises, but a kind of armistice, an agreement which is upheld in the daily care of the soul and communion of the spirit.

There is no resting on ones laurels when the lions come at night. Changing ones thinking is not sufficient in itself; a new way of being, of relating to life, requires surrender, which is half of the battle. This is where right action begins, in surrendering the self to the soul rather than sacrificing the soul to the self. For me this required that I form a new relationship with myself, a relationship with my soul. One in which my soul is not only a conscious part of myself but the dominate aspect of my conciousness.  The mind, when left in charge, places the soul in exile. Security, true security, comes from being able to trust in your inner voice.

That begins slowly, for first it requires being able to hear it. Modern life has silenced man’s communion with the soul by tearing down the channels man used for centuries to understand and acess his higher self. Myth, great literature, religion, ritual, these are all dead and dying arts. The Matrix is simply a life deprived of all these bridges. The job of the shaman is to teach these. I wish to be a doctor of the soul as Jung was. This is my art, my dreams, dreams birthed through the nightmare I made of my life. But the nightmare is over. I’ve graduated. And today, I have true security, unshakable inner peace.

Fuck wit me you know I got it. – Jay Z

While I may not be [“good”], life is. My second cup of tea now cold, I will collect myself from the sandy spot I am on and walk home to read and retire for the night.

I have dreams to live and life awaits me tomorrow. A life in which I am an aspiring doctor of the soul, an artist in the highest sense. A life in which I am whole, a man worthy of making love to. A life I am building to share with the family of my dreams. A delightful life.

Walks home listening to Taylor Swift FTW

Self-Forgiveness and Forgiveness: Tools and Practices

I just wanted to take a minute to share a Google Doc I created with 5 resources / activities for self-forgiveness and forgiveness.

I’ve previously written on forgiveness before, but this entry provides the “how to” (whereas that entry focused more on the “why”).

I hope this benefits others as much as it has benefited me. This is real good medicine for the heart.

Enjoy it here: Self-Forgiveness and Forgiveness Guide: 5 Powerful Tools for Heart-Centered Forgiveness

forgiveness

For You’re One of The Lucky Ones

Note: The original Song and video are great as well, but I find this remix slightly less melancholy.

Sometimes I don’t think it’s fair –
But I smile,
Because life is good to me

You might think this notion silly,
And for a time, I did too
But trust me –

You see, I’ve been in love twice
And provided I go on living,
I believe it will be thrice

And that’s alright by me, for life is quite sweet
Because I can fuck everything up
And still grab victory from the jaws of defeat

So I look back lovingly on rainy drives and sunny days in parks
Yet I look ahead now – and I know,
There’s always light after dark

And to the heart long-hurting for a love whose time has passed
I verily tell thee:
Unclench your wrectched grasp
Love only that which is fated for you,
And once you release the rest
You will begin anew

Yes – you will live again with an open heart
But for this to happen,
You must accept the gift of a new start
And please, don’t think this advice generic or naive
It’s the declaration of my twenties, from the wisdom of it’s eve

Because back then,
You never thought she would leave
But now you see
You’ve been given the gift of a reprieve

So survey all you have,
And go create all you need
For you will love, and you will be loved again
And you will have to let go of it all, again and again
And this is life
So live with head and hopes held high
For you’re one of the lucky ones

###

Edit: As a poet I’m fairly transparent, and I think it’s safe to say this will be my final poem on relationships for some time as it caps a series of poems I have written during and after a breakup. Heartache is certainly fertile ground for any artist – but there is more to life than relationships, and I think I’ve tilled the soil well.

I’m very thankful to have come out of love and loss a better man for having been through it. There were times I never would have imagined that could be possible. And I’m sure I owe a lot of my healing to the poems themselves, and it’s my very hope that they help heal something within you, my dear reader. Love and light – love, and light.

On Choosing to Be Kind

Update: 10/31/2014

I wrote this entry while being emotionally riled, and while I feel I did an effective job of being constructive with my emotions and providing a great deal of substance to the reader, I do not feel I wrote all of this in the proper tone or from the optimal perspective.

As such, I was thankful to come across a good article this evening on the subject of good and evil, as the ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus saw it.

While I feel this doesn’t negate what I have written, I think it contributes a vital perspective to my narrative.

To quote:

“When you see people, things, and circumstances during your day, Epictetus advises us to break away from of our habit of seeing them as good or bad. Their labels of good and bad can only be attached by our judgment, not from who or what they truly are. They are simply part of nature and the world we all work within.”

Even from one who reviles us?’
Why, what good does the athlete get from the man who wrestles with him? The greatest. So my reviler helps to train me for the contest: he trains me to be patient, dispassionate, gentle. You deny it? You admit that the man who grips my neck and gets my loins and shoulders into order does me good, and the trainer does well to bid me ‘lift the pestle with both hands’, and the more severe he is, the more good do I get: and are you going to tell me that he who trains me to be free from anger does me no good? That means that you do not know how to get any good from humankind.” – Epictetus.

“Here, Epictetus isn’t only saying problems aren’t bad but that they can be beneficial! If this still doesn’t make sense to you, then consider the weightlifting room at your local gym. Some people spend hours using those heavy weights in various positions and movements. In fact, they usually pay membership dues just for the privilege. They view these weights as a good. However, if someone has a job that requires he lifts boxes with similar weights as found in our gym example, would he think lifting those boxes is a good? Probably not. He certainly wouldn’t pay membership dues for the privilege. Instead, he expects to be compensated. So there you have two similar activities that are viewed by people as different because their interpretations are different, not the activities themselves.”

“Therefore, next time we run into someone angry or face a hopeless situation, we must remember what Epictetus has taught us today.”

This reinforces the themes of Stoicism and the value of adversity that were originally included initially within this entry, but I wanted to add this update as I think it places greater focus on these perspectives, which can greatly lighten the burden on our soul. All in all, not my favorite entry because of the emotionally fueled place it came from, but I’m happier with it after the addition of this update. For all intents and purposes I must remind myself that ‘this is a blog’, and as such I am allowed to make mistakes in conveying my ideas. – LB


I want to make this a short entry because it’s not worth many words, but it’s worth saying.

Edit: this is not a short entry, but it’s very much worth reading. Enjoy.

There are shitty people in the world.

As much as I have clung to the denial of this truth in my unconquerable lust for idealism, I can no longer deny this as a basic tenet of life – some people just fucking suck. And I don’t mean this in the way of people letting you down, sure that happens; however, what I’m talking about is the people who are well over the black and white line of decency on the spectrum of humanity.

I’m talking about people who physically threaten others, people who project their ugliness onto others where they inherently sense vulnerability, and people who just don’t give one iota of fucks about you and would probably enjoy whatever harm would come to you. People who in fact make a concerted effort to perpetuate whatever kind of harm or injury they might inflict on you – verbal, emotional, physical, or psychic.

If you read me you know that I’m a positive person. If you know me, you know this. But there’s no use in pretending these people don’t exist. We’ve all encountered them – within and beyond our circle of friends.

These are the bullies in life – male and female, straight and gay, of all races and classes. These are the people who wish others ill will – and whether they gain pleasure from it I cannot say, but they certainly aren’t averse to your suffering and at the very least they are indifferent to it.

And what of these less than great individuals – how do we go about living in a world where we have to share the same beautiful air with these absolute jerks?

I’ve never really asked myself this.

Up until now I suppose I’ve reacted as child might when confronted with someone who is just plain nasty; I’ve felt a mixture of equal parts hurt and shock. A kind of how on earth? feeling.

But I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being surprised by the ugly side of humanity, and in my twenty-nine years I’ve seen my fair share of it. As I once heard someone quip: “If you ever meet someone who tells you they haven’t been abused, then you are talking to a goddamned liar”. We’ve all been subject to abuse; we’ve all been treated far worse than we deserve -whether we know it or not, but it’s not difficult to single out instances in our lives where another has denied us our humanity, our dignity. This is a part of life. As is said in Rocky IV, life ain’t all sunshine and roses; the world is a very mean and nasty place.

Regardless of the inevitability of this, I’ve always done my best to meet incredulous persons with compassion. After all, we have all acted poorly; we’ve all been guilty of being shitty at one time or another and we all carry the scars of living. But at the same time, some of us don’t put our poison into others – instead, we use coping mechanisms and we integrate our experiences into our interpersonal behavioral schemas in a manner that is basically benevolent towards others.

So, what separates those who internalize their pain and transfigure it into something livable from the people who externalize it in a manner that makes life less livable?

I suppose compassion has a lot to do with it. But one of the little known things about compassion, and one of the things that makes compassion so interesting, is that compassion for the self is not relative to the amount of compassion we have for others. This is grounded in university research (Kristin Neff PHD).

The lack of correlation between compassion for the self and others is very counter-intuitive at a certain level – but once you examine this it makes perfect sense: some people possess ample compassion for others, yet have very little for themselves, yet others have ample compassion for themselves, yet they have very little compassion for others.

Frankly I’m slightly envious of those in the latter category. Not that I think it’s admirable to have less compassion for others than for yourself, but it’s certainly rational and pragmatic to a degree. I’ve lived my life with a deep degree of compassion and empathy for others. And as anyone in my shoes knows, there is a thin line between compassion for others and being an absolute doormat.

Being compassionate has caused me to remain attached to people long after I should have let go. Being compassionate has made me love people who could care less about what city I live in today. Being compassionate has made me very naive in many ways. It’s difficult to look back on this facet of myself and feel like this has been a strength of mine – but it’s been a virtue nonetheless. It’s made me a better person. It’s helped me stay connected to my innocence. It’s helped me stay optimistic and openhearted. It’s helped me be forgiving of others, but the downside is that I have always assumed I was due the same forgiveness I would give another.

And this is where life starts to feel unfair – when you feel like the world’s not nearly as kind to you as you are to it.

And so, at 29, here I am – and as I write this I am feeling like there are far too many rough edges and sharp corners in the world.

Continue reading “On Choosing to Be Kind”

And This is What Love is

One of the things that continually bolsters my spirituality is the way synchronicity and serendipity have a way of bringing the right signs, messages, people, and lessons into my life.

And what’s really shown me this is the fact that I went through a kind of dark night of the soul over the past couple years where these things simply did not happen, because I didn’t believe in anything except science; however, once the spiritual poles in my life reversed from zemblanity to serendipity – voila’ – the magic came back.

As I said to Bunny S via text tonight, I believe in God more than I believe in love – to which she replied, you used to be the opposite. And she is probably right.

Whichever the case my be, I maintain enough fluidity in my beliefs to account for other, often more mature perspectives. After all – perspective is just a filter, and it would be hubris to think that my outlook at 29 is the be all end all, and after all, I’m a long way from being the sage grandfather I am destined to be.

So tonight when I was at my local Whole Foods and I found myself in a chance conversation with a woman who was open and willing to share her perspective with me, I made sure to listen to what she had to say.

And she told me about how as you get older and the people you love start dying it changes you forever – how losing those you love – mom and dad included – changes you; how loss is a part of living and getting older, and how you don’t experience this when you are young, and in a sense your outlook on life is unspoiled by the loss you have yet to face in the passing of relationships and the passage of loved ones.

And in turn I told her about the Grant Study, and how after 75 years and twenty million dollars they concluded that happiness was love, full stop and that the other pillar of happiness [besides finding love] was finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.

And that’s really difficult to do in the face of loss.

But she [the woman at whole foods] was right: loss is an inherent aspect of life – in every facet of nature, it’s simply the way things work.

As one of my favorite quotes from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button states: “You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You can swear and curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.”

And that’s just innately difficult [letting go]. We all live in denial of the inevitable. So – to look back on a relationship and think that the ending itself or the absence of someone you once loved from your life today is somehow unfair is simply childish. And this is what naivete is. It’s not naive to believe in love; it’s naive to believe that you will bask in it’s richness forever.

Love is a holiday. It’s Thanksgiving spent with your favorite people. It’s the safety of Christmas eve. But it’s also understanding that you can’t stop this train.

It’s not naive to believe in love; it’s naive to believe that you will bask in it’s richness forever. Love is a holiday. It’s Thanksgiving spent with your favorite people. It’s the safety of Christmas eve. But it’s also understanding that you can’t stop this train.

And as much as you want to get off and go home again, you can’t,

And this is really what love is. It’s holding on tightly to what you have to let go of. But it’s also knowing you will have to let go.

And it’s knowing that home is where the heart is, but it’s also knowing that your heart is the only home you can ever truly count on being able to return to – every other home is just a resting place for your heart, someone special to share to with.

And whomever you have to share it with now – friends, family, whoever is there in your life today – these are the people that matter. Hold them dear, for they will be gone tomorrow.

But of course, we all feel like ‘You don’t know how it feels to be me’. And this is what love is; because we don’t [know how it feels to be you] – but we all have to let go.

 P.S. I’m reminded of a philosophical exercise where a professor holds up a glass of water before his class and asks the students (a very bright bunch) what the glass of water weighs. Of course, the answers are rapid and forthcoming – “8 ounces!”, “10 ounces!” – but the professor elucidates: the weight of the glass of water is relative to how long you hold onto it; hold it for a minute and you will feel the weight of it (say 10 ounces), but try to hold it for hours or days and it will become unbearable. And this is why we have to let go of things – because their weight becomes unbearable in time.

 And this is why we have to let go of things – because their weight becomes unbearable in time.

Edit: I want to clarify that this outlook on love here is in no way meant to say that you can’t spend the rest of your life with someone you love. I’m 29, and as such, I understand that your twenties are often a very rich burial ground for relationships and first loves, but there is no one rule. And your exes are most likely exes for a reason. Just don’t give up on what you deserve, and hold tighter to what you find next knowing that you have to let go of it all regardless. But if you are lucky enough to find real love – someone who truly loves you and stays by your side through thick and thin – and there will be thick and thin – then hold onto that person, because that’s as good as it gets.

Some Thoughts on Writing, Hiding Behind Poems, and a Poem on Modern Love

At the end of this entry is poem I worked on last night and today, and as the poem’s opening line states, it was not an easy poem – but beyond that I don’t I think it’s a particularly great poem; however, there is some substance there; although, it certainly lacks a consistent tone or style – but despite that, there are lines I really like – but the poem as a whole doesn’t quite achieve the proper balance of style and substance.

But it’s a poem I had to write, because it encapsulates a feeling that’s been turning over in my soul lately, and as I’ve admitted before, poets only write poetry when they are upset – and often I use poetry as a medium for my writing because in a poem I can say things that I don’t feel safe to admit in prose, because I feel like a poem is a safe place to bare your soul for a couple of minutes while the rest of the world pays no attention. 

Poetry just feels overall much less declarative than prose to me, and perhaps it’s because poetry masks egocentricity under the guise of art, or at least it gives the reader the impression that the feelings being communicated are more important than the ideas beneath them.

Perhaps the very nature of poetry as a creative medium, rather than a communicative one, allows for greater empathy toward the writer because it bares some soul and some vulnerability that isn’t obvious in an essay or article format. There’s some inherent asking of forgiveness from the reader that a poet asks simply in sharing his poetry, as if to say – this is a part of me that I fashioned into verse to help myself make sense of this piece of my life – and I think others might profit something from it, either way – here it is, I hope you enjoy it.

Whereas, the writer who takes the liberties and freedom of prose seems more self-important, as if he is saying, I’ve written something here that reveals my own (worthy) ideas about this topic, which the title of is but a tiny promise to you [the reader] that what I have written will enable you to understand this subject much better than you previously did.

And of course the influence of advertising and the impact of the internet as a whole has greatly diluted the perceived value of the written word in the eyes of readers. Content farms and linkbait factories are driven by data with the singular mission of aggregating more eyeballs; clicks and impressions lead to dollars, so even once great publications like Esquire magazine have started pumping out 5-10 clicky titles a day in an effort to win eyeballs online.

Note: If you see any ads here on 7Saturdays it’s because I choose to host this for free on wordpress.com so that this content will remain online long after my death, so any ad revenue from this goes straight to the awesome folks at wordpress. And as an additional aside, it is possible to purchase a yearly upgrade to remove the ads completely.

Being that I’m driven only by my own love for the craft rather than the desire for revenue, I’ve had the wonderful freedom of being able to write whatever I want, and I’ve always written what I felt I needed to write for my own soul – and as such, this blog has been a living record of my inner world, rather than a tool for me to progress within the outer world; however, as I grow older and my writing becomes more paramount to my existence, my desire to write for the benefit of others is becoming equal in importance to my desire to write for my own pleasure.

So what does this mean?

Well, I want to continue writing here, but I want to be more brave about it. Meaning, if I feel something like ‘Hey, I think it’s really messed up that we as a society think it’s normal to discard our ex lovers with zero regard for their wellbeing’ then I want to write about it, rather than burying those feelings in a poem – if in fact I think that prose will allow me to do a better job of conveying what I am trying to say.

By my own admission I’m a much better wordsmith given the freedom to write without rhythm or rhyme, which isn’t to say that I haven’t written some poems I think are great and are perfectly communicated in verse, but as an artist and as a human being I want to evolve and grow beyond the confines of my comfort zone. So perhaps it’s time I start writing as bravely in prose as I have in poetry; although, that’s a scary thought.

So, expect more color here. I’ll still be writing on psychology and philosophy as those are passions of mine, but I think I need to be as brave in my writing as I have been in the other areas of my life.

Tonight I had gone to the store and assumed I would come home and after dinner I would work on this poem and complete it, but as I walked around the aisles of the store it dawned on me that I was using poetic verse as a protective facade to wrap up raw feelings in a pretty package, and maybe I was afraid of admitting these things outright.

So I came home and wrote the above to preface the ugly version of this poem. It’s ugly because it’s not really finished, but I don’t think it could be any other way. It’s the way I feel, and it’s not pretty, but it’s real.

###

I’m Not Built Like That / That’s Just The Way it is

This poem isn’t easy
But I’ve got words to say

She’s found eternal sunshine –
Apparently, self-preservation means disowning love without reservations
And that’s just the way it is

Though we parted long ago,
A part of me knows our love is a big part of all I’ll ever know
And I wasn’t built for letting go –
So I think it’s time I let the world know –

This is me
At twenty-nine,
On a chaise –
Alone and alone

Once upon a time I was less angry – my heart was less complex
You see –
I grieve for things that were once dreams,
So don’t think I can just look for what’s next

It’s obvious I wasn’t made for modern romance
Giving love then taking it back,
Turning apart to never look back
Simply because society says ‘the past is the past’

So we spend a thousand nights together and then say,
‘sorry I don’t feel that same way’

You see,
The three words I gave thee were a gift – not a loan
And in my hand still exists a place for yours that feels like home
I feel it now
But hope sinks as I write this poem –
Because inside I know
Nothing can help,
Not even making these feelings known

You see,
She doesn’t love me like that:
“We’re broken up”
“You need to move on”
“This isn’t normal”
And –
“Please – just leave me alone”

Icy, frigid, freezing Arctic heart –
I never saw your polar nature on warm, long afternoons in the park
But I’m still here and I’m haunted by the burns from that once bright spark

You see,
I will die loving you
And maybe they’ll say I was born broken from the start,
That I should have just moved on and forgotten,
Made a brand new start
But they’ll never know
Because they don’t have my heart

Still am and always will be the goodhearted idealist,
But the truth is,
I really don’t want to feel this
So I’m asking myself:

How many more times can I survive the character assassination of a breakup?
How many more cherished remembrances of the past am I cast off, jettison, and set adrift?

Each time I come across one it feels bittersweet like finding a board-game-piece beneath the family sofa on moving day –
You stare at it for a moment and look back on a dear memory as you’re served a painful reminder of just how sad it is to say that you don’t know that person today

That’s the pain of knowing you can never go back to that place
And if you do return,
It will be alone –
Face it –
You have to face the past on your own –

I have a hard time accepting accepting
To know that certain pieces of me will be marooned in my own skull for eternity
You see – there are no other houses for these memories – just mine and her mind
And it pains me to know they will never come back home with us again –
But somehow – she doesn’t seem to mind

And I both admire and detest her for that
But I could never look back solely in anger –
I’m just not built like that

I could never disown someone I loved
No matter what

You see,
Though my heart is rich and heavy with the patina of grief and pain –
I just don’t know how much more loving it can actually sustain

I can’t bear the weight of it all –
I fear that the sound of the echoes will grow too loud and my heart will feel too small
I can’t carry any more torches in the night
So if you love me don’t expect me to be your white knight

I’m not built like that anymore

I can’t go to that place without facing the truth,
The truth that the wrong love could be the end of me
And maybe it’s time to decide in advance that the next love doesn’t deserve all of me
Will she even deserve the real me?

Because the real me is offering a forever home
And the real me would go into battle to return to that place we used to know
But there is one thing I know

You see,
It’s time to hold my cards close,
And to be the king of my own heart
And if I give my love again, it will be the final start

I loved you once
I love you still
My love is real
My love is real

And that’s just the way it is

Why True Love is so Rare

When I saw the title ‘The Truth About Love’ in my FB feed I thought, Damn linkbait! Now I have to click and make sure I’m not missing anything. 

But I was very happy I did click – not because I discovered something I didn’t know, but because I was reminded that what I know is true. You see, I’ve come to find out the exact truth about love that Ben Neal wrote of in this mini essay. I’m almost certain Mr. Neal learned this truth the way I did, which is to say, the way you learn this, through massive heartache and loss, and searching, and lots and lots of inner work.

Eventually I may write something that encompasses previous entries I have written on love (ranging from the relatively idealistic to the purely rational), but for now this encapsulates how I feel very well.

###

This following was published in Elephant Journal, and was written by Ben Neal.

“Do you believe in love?

I’m talking about that deep down, life changing, earth shaking, always-and-forever kind of love—the stuff of poetry and legend.

Many people are skeptical, and for good reason. Today’s culture isn’t very fertile ground for romance. With social media, text messaging and online dating, we’ve revolutionized communication but we’ve lost the art of relationship. There are very few success stories. (Sometimes it seems like there are very few people having real, face-to-face conversations anymore!)

But I believe. Scratch that. I know.

True love is real—deep, unconditional, everlasting love. The reason it is so rare is because it is so misunderstood.

Most people’s idea of “true love” looks something like this: Mr. or Mrs. Right is waiting out there somewhere, “the One” they are destined to be with. And that special someone is looking for them too, and it’s only a matter of time before they meet each other—and of course, they’ll both live happily ever after.

Bullshit.

Happily ever after doesn’t exist. And God didn’t hand pick one special person just for you. In fact, the whole idea of finding fulfillment in someone else is an illusion.

The truth is, love can only be found within.

Most people who are looking for love “out there” are actually just running away from loneliness. They constantly settle for less than what they want, and less than what they deserve, because their greatest fear is to be alone, grow old alone and die alone.

The fear of loneliness prevents us from experiencing real intimacy. True love lies beyond that fear. We have to face what Louis C.K. calls the “forever empty,” the unquenchable sadness deep within us; the ever present knowledge of our own mortality, that in the end we all face death all alone.

The truth is that real love requires real inner work that most people just aren’t interested in. It requires that we first be happy in our solitude; that we come to know ourselves, accept ourselves and love ourselves. We have to find our peace of mind, find our purpose, our passion, our joie de vivre.

It requires that we lay down the ego’s defenses and be naked and vulnerable; that we give up our planning and fantasizing about the future and live in the Now. Only then are we really ready to love. When you fully grasp that tomorrow is not guaranteed—that this moment is truly all that we have—there is nothing to do but give everything you’ve got, expecting nothing in return.

In fact, you know in advance that your heart will be broken. You will be lied to, you will be taken for granted; you will be hurt and disappointed. Sooner or later, between here and your deathbed, you will have to say goodbye. You know it, you accept it, and you love anyway.

Real love is divine. It comes from a relationship with God, a dance with emptiness which takes us beyond the human self, beyond the ego’s petty games to know a timeless love; to taste the fullness of joy.

What we call “true love” is that rare and sacred union that happens when two people join in this dance together.

It is a friendship, a love affair and an act of worship. Passion, lust, affection, caring, trust, respect and devotion all become part of an exquisite surrender. Lovers merge with each other and with the vast, wild universe. Neither knows for sure if it will last a weekend or a lifetime. It doesn’t matter.

All that matters is this moment of oneness—holy and beautiful.

It contains eternity.”

When you have discovered that abundant love lives in that higher place within you, and when you have learned to reinterpret your stories and reevaluate your belief systems about what love is, then you can begin to cultivate the true self-compassion, unconditional self-acceptance, and healthy self-love that true love requires. And two people who have each discovered this is such a rare thing. And this is why true love is so rare.

Bonus: Watch the Prince EA Video on love in this entry to get an even better sense of what true love is.

Update: The following is excerpted from the above referenced video by Prince EA (on love), which I wanted to include here because it puts this entry and the message here about what true love is in such a clearer context:

“See, the truth is, we have forgotten what love is. Our ideas about love come from storybooks, romantic comedies, popular songs, facebook memes – and they all show this fuzzy romantic type of love, and as you are aware, in your own life, these ideas have led to more anxiety and pain then true pleasure [fullfilment] and happiness… because these ideas themselves are flawed, they are based on ownership and selfishness “You are my bae, my boo, my sweetheart; I love you – but only if you’re with me”. That’s a possessive type of love, that’s a love with strings attached, that’s an impure type of love.

Ask yourself this question: who do you hate? It’s probably somebody you used to love right.

Thinking that somebody can fix you or that you can fix somebody else is just plain wrong. See, love is an inside job. In order to love others we must first love ourselves. We have to mature in a way that we can take care of our own emotional needs –  we can help ourselves – and that way, we accept the flaws in our partner because we have already accepted the flaws in ourselves.

There’s no more anger or controlling clinginess in this type of love, there’s a relaxed acceptance, there’s kindness, there’s tenderness, there’s vulnerability.

And when you are reflecting your true self, your true soul, you’re no longer reflecting anger, pain, your past failures, and your ego – that’s when love can blossom because the souls only expression is pure love.

And I think when two people, when two souls come to this understanding – that’s rare, that’s beautiful, and that’s something we should all strive for

So word to the wise, if you don’t know how to love, you will ultimately destroy it.”

Notes and Lessons from Napoleon Hill’s 1928 Masterpiece: Outwitting The Devil

Update: Jan 2017 – just going to leave this here: 

https://www.google.com/amp/paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-untold-story-of-napoleon-hill-the-greatest-self-he-1789385645/amp?client=safari

– Not to detract from the man’s work, but the above read was eye opening to say the least. Take what you will with a grain of salt, the entry below included.


As a follow-up to yesterday’s entry on Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting The Devil, tonight I wanted to publish some of the key notes I copied as when I read the book today.
Let me preface this by saying holy shit, this is a masterpiece. Keep in mind the finished manuscript was locked away by Hill’s spouse and her surviving family for over 70 years, before being published in 2011 when ownership of the rights moved to a non family member – so it never received much attention, unlike Think and Grow Rich, which has sold over seventy million copies.

The reviews of Outwitting The Devil on Amazon are glowing – despite a seemingly unanimous dislike for the influence of new age author Sharon Lechter, of Rich Dad Poor Dad fame. And personally, I agree – her [Sharon Lechter’s] influence cheapens the value of such a masterpiece. And I don’t use this word [masterpiece] lightly.

Back when I used to used to review beer, there was an important concept that the savvy reviewer would employ when reviewing a given beer – and it was the idea that the beer should be compared to the other beers within it’s genre. Similarly, in this case, I am not calling it a masterpiece compared to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, I am calling it a masterpiece against every success oriented, self-help / positive psychology book I have ever read – including greats like the Power of Positive Thinking, and even Hill’s own magnum opus, Think and Grow Rich.

Mind you, I have been reading self-improvement and positive psychology for nearly two decades. What I have come to find is that the New Thought originals – Napoleon Hill, James Allen, Norman Vincent Peal, and Earl Nightingale laid the groundwork for virtually everything that has since been published in the genre. These men were basically the Founding Father’s to the positive psychology / philosophy of success movement. 

After listening to and reading Outwitting The Devil, I really am taking a look at how much more benefit I can expect to gain from reading new philosophy of success books on a regular basis. You can read every single approach and theory to success in the world, but at a certain point you have to put aside your identity as a student of life so that you can be a leader in your own life. In other words, if you aren’t actively applying the principles you have learned then you aren’t extracting any value from learning. You need to get into the field. You need to hit live balls. Plus, let’s be real – there are a lot of shuckters rehashing timeless wisdom to people looking for answers. Do you want to spend your life listening to audio and reading books, or do you want to go out there and put what you have learned into practice and turn dreams into reality.

That being said, it’s extremely important to maintain your mindset and there is a lot of value in feeding and watering your mind to maintain fertile ground. I’ve known successful people in their later decades who still listened to the classics on a weekly basis – coincidentally, they did so while driving or otherwise occupied (working out).

I personally wish to do the same, so that I am making the maximum use of my time achieving my goals and dreams, rather than mentally masturbating over them during time I could otherwise be productive. And this may not be the right path of study for everyone, but at 29 years old I am ready to make that transition in my philosophy of success journey, and a large part of this is due from reading Outwitting The Devil – and the accompanying lessons I have learned. Lessons, which I am publishing for preservation, and future reflection / study here.

It should also be noted that I am increasingly interested in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, self-talk, and Stoicism as a means to manage my psyche, so I do not plan on abandoning my focus there, just divesting my interest from pure philosophy of success teachings.

Below are my notes and excerpts highlighting the most important teachings from Outwitting The Devil. The headings and italicized text are my own, the remainder are verbatim from Outwitting The Devil – much of the italicized text has been translated from statements into affirmations using the second person ‘you’ pronoun, which has been shown to be more effective than “I”.

Continue reading “Notes and Lessons from Napoleon Hill’s 1928 Masterpiece: Outwitting The Devil”