Bhudda in the Dark

buddha-in-the-dark-center-k-burn

My extreme mood shifts are a real chore to deal with at times. This week I’ve been the calm and gentle Bhudda; at one with the universe, laughing and happy, everything seems as clear as a reflection on still water.

 
Looking over the last month or so I’ve been in a state of great agitation. Not that it’s all been negative. In fact most has been positive, yet it has still been a struggle to perform the daily tasks that need finished, organize my goals in an efficient manner, and keep the focus on the essential truths about life as I see them.

 

If I could lock my mind and body into the state it is in today I would live a better life. But it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. Or maybe it is and I’m just fumbling in the dark unable to locate it.

Where is Today’s George Carlin?

Where is this generation’s George Carlin? Richard Pryor? Bill Hicks? Lenny Bruce? Where are those raw, unapologetic wordsmiths that can ‘tell it like it is’ is a way that really gets the point across but also makes you laugh? Laugh at how ridiculous it all is? Laugh at yourself? Laugh at the world?

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are some funny comedians performing, and there are some ‘edgy’ comedians performing, but I don’t see anyone that rises above the rest. There isn’t anyone that can shock the world anymore, in a good way, and I don’t believe it’s because we’ve become so ‘desensitized’ by it all.

 
The problem is two-fold. The comedians, for the most part, are lazy. The game has changed. In the golden days of the craft you studied the language. You used wordplay, developed interesting dialogue, discovered your own unique voices if needed and developed characters. You worked the clubs and moved up slowly, always honing and polishing your craft, tossing off the slag, keeping what shined. Write and rewrite. Now it’s about youtube and getting kicked in the nuts. Five minutes of fame and out. So many flash in the pans and so many ‘big name’ comedians that wouldn’t have been able to open for some of the above-mentioned legends. Even the good ones, that I actually enjoy, are just shadows of what came before. Patton Oswalt, Louis C. K. etc… They suck. Sorry, somebody had to say it.

 
The other problem though is me, and audiences in general. You ever watch old films of live shows? What do you see? People that are engaged. People enjoying the world around them. People without the thing I’m typing this on in their hand, not ‘connected’ to anyone or anybody but those in their immediate vicinity. Whether it was a comedy show, or a concert, or a play the audience was there and they were wholly a part of the experience. Do yourselves a favor and leave that shit in the car the next time you go in somewhere. The world wide web will be there when you get back.

 
That’s not all though. People at comedy shows could laugh at themselves back then. They could laugh at their neighbors. They could laugh at ANYTHING. Why is everyone so serious now? Do you snowflakes need a safe space? Has everyone forgotten that, when it comes down to it, words are just wind. Unless you’re Zhuang Zhou. Cool guy, Chinese dude, a little before Jesus check him out. They aren’t going to hurt you. Fuck, we’ve known that since gradeschool, or at least I have.

 
Where is the next legend that’s going to do the work? The one that’s going to have the vision to put it all together, and bring us all together, over the ridiculousness of humanity? He or she is out there but some of that shit starts with you. Lighten up, buttercup.maxresdefault (1)

On Writing, Part Two

On Writing, Part Two

I borrowed the title of this piece from Stephen King’s book. It’s okay though, when I saw him a few months ago he gave me permission.

I’d like to ramble on about writing a bit today, and more specifically, the different processes I use to accomplish different types of writing. I like to dabble and experiment with a wide variety of forms and formats as opposed to focus on one particular style. My only end goal is enjoying what I’ve written so it works for me.

I use several different methods depending on the day, my mood, the type of writing I’m going for, etc… I’ll try to break them down below.

I Don’t Know

I’ll get this one out of the way first. I think all writers get these from time to time. Whether sitting and actively trying to write, stuck in traffic, eating dinner, chatting on the phone with someone, etc… sometimes an idea just hits you. Boom, you can go from nothing to write about to overflowing *snap* just like that. I enjoy having this happen and some solid writing comes this way but am loathe to rely on it because of its unpredictable nature. An example on this blog would be the post “Time“.

An Inspiring Lyric or Sentence

I oftentimes draw inspiration both from lyrics and novels and apply them to my own writing. When I first began writing I thought everything that I was going to write had to be different, original, dissimilar from all other writing. That is I bit unrealistic unless you want to write completely random sentences. Sentences that make no sense to anyone. I began to realize that every artist, no matter the field, draws inspiration from others.

There is a line in a song by Tom Waits called “Take it With Me” that goes “The ocean is blue, as blue as your eyes.” I always felt that was a beautiful line and wanted to write one more beautiful for my wife. The song “You’re All That I Need” was completely inspired by that one line. I don’t know that i succeeded in topping that Waits’ line, but that was my attempt.

Specific Formats

There are a lot of different, widely accepted, forms of writing and they are easily available for research on the internet. Simply type “List of poetry forms”, “song format examples”, etc… into your favorite search engine and voilá; a whole slew of new styles to explore. An obvious example on this blog would be the post “Limericks“.

Free Writing

I’ll often sit, let my mind drift and write whatever happens to cross it. Here’s an example:

Love has come and never left
The moon’s been shot
The culprit is at large and the authorities have undermined…

I was fishing one time with my grandfather and that never happened.

Free Writing
Grab the lightning
In a bottle
Or a can
However you can
Understand the plan isn’t planned

Dry the rain from your hair, the tears, the teardrops from your eyes.

Warm yourself by the comfort of the fire, soothe your soul in the comfort of my eyes.

Divine the divine

Something old
Something new
Something stolen

A lot of Edgar Allen Poe’s work reads like poetry. He had an unfair advantage though; By just spelling his name he was halfway there.

Over there is hope for the future
The dawning of dawn
A day to remember
Nothing but time, time for sorrow, time for love.

That is from a few minute session I did yesterday. Ninety percent of that won’t be used but there’s a line or two in there I may shine up and insert into something at some point. Examples of this can be seen throughout a good many of posts. I save all of my free writing jots. You never know when a line that may not make sense or seem useful today can be incorporated into a future work.

There are other ways I find inspiration, but those are a few tools that I utilize. I’m really interested to hear of any methods that you find to spark creativity, and whether you yourself have ever tried any of the above.

Until next time.

A Balanced Approach

Life can seem so complex at times. Some of us worry about money, whether we’re raising our children right. Some of us worry about the face we present to the world. Have to keep up with the neighbors. Car trouble, school trouble, legal trouble, that country song from the nineties, T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Worry about what we put in our bodies, worry about politics and politicians. Worry if we’ll ever find the right one, or even the right one for tonight.

Unemployment, inflation, acne, college and college expenses, retirement, hair loss, weight loss, weight gain, sexual prowess, the afterlife, germs, terrorism, pets, whether we’re attractive enough, fashion, being late, being early, bed bugs, bee stings, insurance, plants, the environment, religious beliefs, our parents and grandparents health, Facebook likes, whether people will enjoy what you’ve written…

With all of these worries it can be easy to forget to take the time to enjoy life. Enjoy raising children. Enjoy your morning coffee. Enjoy a beautiful sunset or sunrise.

Music, books, food, fine wine, cheap wine, a hug, a kiss, simply holding hands. Walking, laughing, card games, board games, video games, television shows, a warm blanket, flowers, hiking, biking, sleeping, waking, a cold glass of tea, new socks, starlight, rainbows, cute kittens, ugly kittens, that song T-R-O-U-B-L-E from the nineties, philosophy, sex, good conversation, friendship, and of course a decent blog.

I’m not telling anyone to stop worrying about some of these things; to worry is natural.

I only ask that you never forget to find the joy as well.

Love, Respect, Patience, & Empathy

Another attack on joyous festival attendees. I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to the human race. I firmly believe that we will some day learn to get along with one another, despite our differences, and nothing can ever shake that view. Terrorism isn’t a new thing; people have been striking terror into the heart of others since our dawn. But I believe it doesn’t always have to be so.

 

Love. Respect. Patience. Empathy. Love one another, respect one another’s differences, have the patience to reasonably think through ways we can coexist. Show empathy when something bad happens to another human being, try not to be so quick to jump to conclusions as to why it happened. Just share in the sorrow, try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes; try to see life from their viewpoint. Extend a helping hand in whatever way you are able, without conditions, without judging.

 

Love and hate are strong forces and they can be contagious. You or I can project these emotions and pass them on; whether intentionally or unintentionally. I try my best to love everyone and, like everyone, I sometimes fail. It’s not an easy task. But I wish we’d all make the effort.

Remember the families in Nice today. That is the kind of tragedy spreading hate brings. Remember the families, honor them, support them in any way you can. France is a goodly ways around the globe but regardless of what anyone tells you we are one. We don’t all have to be alike, believe in the same things, to live a peaceful existence and I believe that each one of us has the power to shape the future of humankind.

 

Change can be made one small act at a time.

 

Love. Respect. Patience. Empathy.

Living With Bipolar Disorder

I, like many others, have bipolar disorder. Specifically I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type II. I don’t talk about it much as I’ve found most people are uncomfortable discussing the subject. I’d like to attempt to explain what it feels like to live with this condition. First though a preface on what bipolar disorder is.

 

People, like myself, who suffer from bipolar disorder experience a wide swing in moods over a length of time. Specifically swinging back and forth from depression to a type of heightened mood known as mania or hypomania depending on the severity of the episode (hypomania being the less severe of the two). The mania/hypomania can express itself through in many ways including increased irritability, euphoria, rapid speech, an inrease in energy, the need for less sleep, and racing thoughts. There is enough information on depression out there so i believe i will skip the explanation of it.That Iis a nice clinical explanation of the symptoms but… How do I feel?

My trip to Depression doesn’t happen In an instant, but it isn’t necessarily slow either. I’ve noted, in myself at least, it takes anywhere from 6 hours to a few days to slip into a depressive state. I’ve learned over the years to recognize the feelings in myself which in turn has led to me being able to exert a modicum of control over it. Even at 31 though I’ve not completely conquered it and sometimes it sneaks up on me and kicks me square in the balls before I recognize it and by then it’s too late.

 

When I’m in a depressive state the things that interest me no longer interest me. Music, family, writing, film, photography, sex, games, etc… It all seems pointless. I begin to question whether anything I do is worth it. Plans that have been coming along nicely grind to a halt. If I had something to do it is canceled, even things that are pleasurable. I begin to feel like no one cares for me, my friends aren’t my friends, my family hates me, I hate myself. It has been so severe that I’ve not gotten out of bed for weeks, except to use the restroom. I’ve been very close to suicide on several occasions, even so far as thinking through the method. Fortunately I haven’t reached that level of despair in a couple of years. The worst, after I come out of it, is the neglect that I put my wife and children through. When I’m depressed I don’t play with them or spend quality time; I barely even talk to them. I sleep, cry, and my energy is hardly enough to walk, it seems at the time anyways. All the joy in the world is gone. Over the years I’ve been able to develop quite the acting chops; when I’m faced with a situation where I must go in public despite the depression I put on a show. I smile, laugh, and function. Inside I feel like dying.

 

Then there are the manic episodes. At the beginning of the upswing I become super dad to my children. We play, invent new games and songs; we take special trips to new places and I teach them new things. I take care of what needs done around the house. I play music, I interact with friends and family, I try new things like drawing, or other art forms that pique my interest. Then the full blown Mania or Hypomania hits.

 

I spend money recklessly. I make horrible, impulsive decisions including, but not limited to, walking miles in the middle of the night, driving recklessly  (When by myself), staying up all night when I have to care for the kids in the morning, starting big unrealistic projects that can’t be finished in a day then destroying whatever I’ve worked on when I don’t get as far as I’d like, and generally pushing the envelope. I stole a car once while manic (Years ago), I used to drink an excessive amount; I nearly went the way of some famous musicians a couple of times. Sometimes the mania manifests itself in extreme irritability to the point I’ve yelled at my family members. I’ve quit jobs quite sure that I can make a living off of whatever I feel invincible at during the moment. I quit my medication and quit going to therapy because, after all, if I feel this good I must be better, right? I sleep very little. It comes with a slew of problems; it’s harder for me to recognize my manic phases coming on for some reason.

 

Then there are the in between times. The times where I feel “normal”. These are blessings. My true self comes out. I’m polite, interested in life as it happens, not what it can be or what it isn’t. I have unconditional love for my family. If my children misbehave I don’t raise my voice. I respond with compassion and explanations on how to better themselves and build a stronger family. My wife and I can just be, no judgements from either side, just love. I sleep normally, I work normally, I approach my hobbies in a normal, non obsessive manner. I can breath. I can think. I can tackle the problems presented by my depressive and manic selves. I sometimes think bipolar should be called tripolar; I feel like three different people.

 

I’m sharing this because I’m tired of hiding it. Most people that know me know a guy who always has a smile on his face (is a bit weird maybe haha) but otherwise completely normal. A normal life is pretty difficult, if not impossible. I can’t hold a job, I can’t keep to a routine, I can’t even love the way I’d like to in a consistent manner. I look at others who have some semblance of normality in their life and wish and pray for it. I’m getting better but I can’t help but ask…

 

How long will it take?

 

Anxiety

Solitude preferable, though sometimes impossible.

This evening brings people I know; people I have to get along with, yet we have little in common.

Smile, nod, shake hands. ‘How’s the family? How’s the job? How’s life?’

My God the small talk is killing me.

I excuse myself. Smoke a cigarette apart from humanity; take the time to regroup. Don my armor, charge back into battle.

The pleasant look is on my face. ‘I’m enjoying myself’ that look says.
‘I’m one of you.’

I blend in. Stay on defense. I’m witty, charming. Riposte, deflect; the best offense is a great defense, or so they say.

The hours crawl by; where is the end? My parries are weak, my feints? Faint. My mood darkens. If I were to be honest, it wasn’t burning like Polaris to begin with.

I sit at my table, surrounded by people but alone. Contributing now only arbitrarily to the conversation. Nods, shrugs, a robotic laugh when needed, stock quips, and of course FEIGNED INTEREST. I just want to go home.

At last it’s time to go and for the first time that evening my chest loosens. The smile is real. The jokes and good natured zingers are seen for what they are. It occurs to me how much I missed out on, trapped inside my mind.

Thus is the nature of the beast.