Tag Archives: selfishness

Slipping Slowly into Madness

I hesitate to write this blog post. Usually my strategy in life is to stay positive, keep chugging ahead, and things will work out. By all measurable statistics that’s exactly how things are going. I have a job that pays well and is full of opportunity, I have a loving and caring wife, I have a house that is well on its way to being paid off, I have money in the bank, and based on pretty much anything else one might objectively and statistically measure success by I’m doing good. The problem is I don’t feel that way. There’s a gap.

I feel like an idiot and a selfish asshole for even complaining. So much is going good for me, but some days I feel hollow. It’s almost like a depression that I can usually get over in a few hours by changing my way of thinking or just forgetting about it. The problem is I’m tired of “just forgetting about it”, and I’m tired of this feeling creeping up on me. The conflict is horrible and it’s not fair for anyone who has to put up with it (mostly my wife).

Sometime this feeling effects my personal life too. There are days when I can’t even begin to give my wife the attention and love she deserves. I’m too selfish and too self concerned with some fucked up feeling of being unfulfilled. God it’s fucked. Worst still is that I am a master at covering it up. I can throw a smile on my face and make almost anyone think I am the most confident and happy person on the face of the goddam planet. Hell, maybe sometimes I am.

The Problem, the Uncertainty

The cause of these undefined feelings are hard to nail down. Is it my life, my career, genetic, mommy and daddy issues, marital, spiritual, or some combination thereof? I have no fucking clue. Sometimes right when I feel like I might have a solution or the culprit of my emptiness identified I realize the actions required to rid myself of those feelings are risky at best – stupid at worst.

Why does the human existence have to be so fucking complicated. Maybe it isn’t – maybe I’m just making it complicated. I don’t know…

Honestly, part of me is afraid. Afraid of making a stupid decision. Afraid of making the wrong decision – especially when my current existence by most people’s standards is pretty fucking good (see paragraph one). I wish someone would just say to me: “Do it. Take the risk. Do “X”. That’s what you should do and you will be happy for it.” I’m no idiot though.

There’s no magical person out there that can tell me what I really need to do to feel full to the brim with satisfaction. If I wanted that kind of lie I would buy a fucking Joel Osteen book.

Vegabond

Also, I keep coming back to this idea of selling everything I own and just traveling and working by doing whatever I can do. Of course I would do a lot more planning than that before I actually took the plunge, but the idea keeps falling back to the forefront of my mind. I haven’t fully developed a plan here, but it keeps haunting me. Is this common? Does anyone else have this?

Every time I meet someone from another country I feel like I become twice as informed. Just having the slightest insight into another person’s thoughts from another place is probably the most interesting thing on the planet. That is definitely a shortcoming of the American lifestyle, but I’ll leave that rant for another post.

What’s keeping me from just doing it? Comfort and the feeling I’ll be giving up so much, in such a good spot, for a big mistake. It could be the biggest mistake or the greatest achievement of my life. The problem: I’m not good with risk. I’ve been calculated and conservative my entire life, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m trading the security of mediocrity for the potential for a life worth living. Any advice?

Marriage

My marriage is rocky. I need to put in some work. We were married too early and been together too long. Sometimes I think that is both a lucky thing and simultaneously the worst thing.

To make things worse: I met a Brazilian woman while I was out of town at dinner the other night. She is 30, interesting, educated, had an amazing accent, eccentric, and was of course beautiful. We hit it off really well, too well, and I developed a shameful crush for her – and she for me. Those elementary school feelings will quickly leave and luckily she is going back to Brazil and I will never see her again, but sometimes I feel like being married so young to a women I’ve known so long has lead to missed opportunities. That’s probably the voice of ignorance speaking, but I know it is partially true. Maybe that’s a blog for another time too.

My wife is great and almost any shortcomings in our relationship are my fault. My failure to accept her for her own personality, my failure to give her attention when needed, and my failure to not marry her if that was the case. I’ve thought about this many times and even if I wanted to I could never bring myself to leave her. It’s the Irish in me, I’ve been told, we will live with something and be unhappy forever if that’s what it takes.

The End

This is getting long and I haven’t even read over it to see if my stream of consciousness writing makes any sense what-so-ever. I feel a little better and if you have bothered to read this far I appreciate it.

The Irony of Death

My Mom called me about six times last night before I finally answered.  I wasn’t screening her calls I just left my cell phone on vibrate.  I didn’t notice she had been calling until she finally called my wife and left a voice message.

“Your Mom sounds really upset, you should call her.”

Normally I would wait until morning to call my Mom back, but if she is sounding really upset I call back immediately.  I’m just never sure if its an emergency or not.  I call my Mom back and she doesn’t sound that upset so I’m a little relieved.  I was dreading the thought of possibly having to drive an hour at midnight to handle a situation.

“Mom has breast cancer.” Mom in this case is Grandma.  She’s in her early 60’s and found out yesterday that she has early stages of malignant breast cancer.  Her sister, my great aunt, just passed away within the year from the same disease so I gather everyone is concerned.

What struck me wasn’t a feeling of dread about my Grandmother’s potential death, but a lack of empathy and a strong concern and realization about my own death.  That is horribly selfish I know, but I have always had a difficult time feeling well, what you are supposed to feel.  I was more concerned about my lack of raw emotion than concern for my Grandmother having breast cancer – that seems potentially narcissistic.

The other thing that bothered me was my own death.  I don’t dwell it, but occasionally I think how strange it is that one day I will have to face my own death.  I’m not sure how it will come and that is just as weird.

There will be a time where things happen on this earth and I will not be here to witness them.  I will be no more.  I will one day lay in a  hospital bed and count down my own passing.  Or I’ll die instantly in an accident – who knows.  It might be painful or it might be quick – but I will face death.  Strangely, there is some comfort in knowing that every single person on earth and every person who has ever been has and will experience the same thing.  That is one thing we all have in common in the human experience.

Thinking about my own death I thought about the things I would want.  I think I would want to know that people cared for me, that people were rooting for me, and to be prepared.  So I think its only right that I give my Grandmother that same respect.  To let her know I’m rooting for her, that I care for her, and to help her in any way possible to be prepared if it comes to the point where she does have to face death.

I will lie to her if needed.  I will pretend I care more than I do if I have to when the time comes.  I’ll even give in to her religious comforts when inevitably I find myself in a room full of people praying over her sick body.  I’ll even nod my head and put up no fight when people tell her she’s going to a better place, a magical place.  Why?  Because if religion makes her passing easier, provides her comfort, who am I to take that away in her last moments?

I’m being morbid.  They caught this early.  She’ll probably come out fine, but the rules about death still apply – or at least they will someday.  Death, I think it’s just a part of life.  You recognize it’s there, ignore it, prepare for it, hate it, but it’s a gift.  Death is the one thing holding you accountable for life – it’s your term limit – in a way it’s what makes you enjoy life the most. Maybe that’s the irony of death.

Evil by Omission

Mankind is flawed.  We have the tendency to exploit the less-powerful for our own gain, we tend to rule the weak, we tend to abuse those less powerful than us, and we tend to make mistakes even when we know it’s a mistake.  That’s us – crooked and flawed.

I know what you’re saying: “Not everyone is that way!” I agree and disagree.  Not everyone is that way all of the time (or maybe even most of the time); however we have all fallen short when it comes to perfection/morality.  I’m not religious, but one thing that I have always found true about Christianity is what the preacher at the church I used to attend would say every Sunday “We have all fallen short of the perfection demanded of us by God.”  If there is a truth in religion that is it.

The good news is we have a lot of good in us too.  I can only examine myself, but I know internally I have a strong urge to do what’s right and to make the world a better place.  I’m not sure why – either.  Perhaps it’s out of my own need for self preservation or some instinct for the preservation of the species – maybe something else.  I have to believe that we all have that in us; though some have become more adapt in ignoring that feeling than others.

But maybe that is the first step for all of us.  Realizing that we all have this duality of good and evil in us.  That we all live and walk a different path with factors affecting our personalities and decisions that another person probably couldn’t even imagine or come close to understanding.  That shapes who we are.  Those facts can also help us understand and deal with everyone else.

Maybe armed with new information and new understanding we can set new rules for ourselves and society.  One where we understand and empathize with those who aren’t there yet.  A society where we can do the right thing even when it’s hard because ultimately we understand that it’s the right thing to do.  Maybe this is just the beginning of social responsibility and recovery of a flawed species capable of so much creation and destruction.

Maybe we can reconcile our needs for self preservation and perpetuity of the species until those two influences come in perfect harmony.  The problems of war and famine from yesterday will become lessons we teach our children in the future.  Maybe borders will seem silly in the future.  Why we value an American, Canadian, African, Muslim, or Christian life more or less than any other will seem absurd – maybe it already does.

I see a younger generation, some of us, already headed there.  Others I see as devout as ever toward a cause no more just or moral as the very “enemies” they so passionately hate.  Maybe its a man living in a mansion while somewhere else a child dies or maybe its an art student trying to make the “big time” in music while forgetting, even for a moment, there are people out there starving.  We’ve all been guilty of ignoring our fellow humans, especially me, so how do we get past that?  I do not know.

What I do know is that until we can get the little things right – we aren’t even close.  Until we can get involved in our own back yards, all of us, and do what’s right – that hopeful light of helping those somewhere else seems very dim.  Do I expect a Utopian society?  Of course not.  I’m not that foolish.

I do know that we can all do better though.  Maybe that means helping out your Mom who has been trapped in the house for years wasting away.  Maybe that means donating a little time to charity.  Maybe that means cleaning up your neighborhood when no one else will.  Maybe it even means doing something big, because you can, and change everything.

Just do what’s right.  Not with words, but by example.

Forget Vegas – What Happens in Chicago STAYS in Chicago

“Legendary-ish Stories” is a series I plan to write occasionally in which I describe actual incidents that happened in my life. These incidents often involve alcohol and at times immorality – neither of which I necessarily condone. With these stories I hope to add a touch of humor and display human imperfection while simultaneously eroding my credibility. Enjoy.

What I did was despicable, terrible, accidental, unplanned, unforgivable, and also memorable. What I did is something no one should ever do and no I do not commend my actions. If anything I discourage them, but as this blog is about being human, about the truth, I will shamefully tell it anyway – however hesitantly I proceed.

Let me start out by saying being a young man in a bar with your closest work friends (who have become personal friends) with an unlimited bar tab and tables that have taps of limitless beer and liquor – is a recipe for disaster and mistakes to be made. Even by a man like me who prides himself on having integrity. A word I can barely write at the moment.

The night started out innocently and unplanned enough. Of course we planned on drinking as much as possible on the company dime – who wouldn’t. However, when the bar closed at 1am and we had ingested an untold number of beers and two older women were hitting on me continuously – what was I to do? Resist?

I’m a young guy in my mid-20s. I am married, so I’m not proud of what happened. My conversation with the women started of completely innocent. I talked about my time in the city, asked for suggestions, and even talked about my wife and their husbands. It was a blur, I will admit, but to my knowledge I was completely forth-coming and polite – yet it seems that older women with husbands really, really like younger men with wives.

Upon blackout a friend of mine (also attached) and I teleport to their hotel room. I don’t remember leaving the bar, making the decision to follow them, nor arriving to the hotel.

Let me stop right here though and say that I was strong. Stronger than most in this position. I resisted their constant propositions. However, that did not stop them from undressing and that did not stop me from looking. I’m not proud. I shouldn’t have put myself in such a situation and how I resisted the desire to take full advantage I may never know.  Still, I deserve a kick to the testicles if nothing else.

Now this is where the story gets funny because if you know me than you would completely understand that this is something I would do. In the middle of all of this “excitement” somehow we get on the subject of politics. (Me being from the South they joked that I hated Obama) That’s when, in my drunken stupor, my mind went from thinking about sex like a 14 year old – to politics. I started in on all of my beliefs and proofs – many of which you have read in this blog. I think the fact that I subconsciously care more about economics and politics than a naked women is clearly more shameful than being in the room with two naked women while I’m married.

In the end I convinced two very liberal women that Ron Paul is an excellent choice for president and that many of my “pseudo-socialist-libertarian-naturalist” viewpoints are incredibly valid. This made me feel AWESOME since both of these women were clearly well educated executive types. They could have very well been my boss. To make matters worse I went on a rant about integrity (while ironically showing no integrity at all).

That’s about the point I felt completely disgusted with myself and realized I was about to force myself to leave and take a very expensive cab ride back to the hotel, alone. So I excused myself and took the walk of shame down to the hotel lobby and shook my head when I noticed the sun was coming up.

I hailed a cab, cringed at how much it cost, drank a lot of water and coffee, took a shower to rinse the disgust off of my body, and went back to work. Now I’m just trying to forget these memories of blatant idiocracy on my part. The shit I feel right now in the form of a massive hang-over, the credibility I may lose from all my “many” readers, and any negative consequences that come from what happened – I deserve.

I’ll leave you with a the most memorable quote from the night (please excuse the language): “You are an impressive young guy. I would hire you and I would fuck you, but not necessarily in that order.” How do you forget something like that?

The Human Desire to Transcend – Explained

This is worth a watch.

Mankind is Flawed

The other night over beers my closest friend revealed a secret to me.  He has been cheeating on his wife for the last few months. 

I know it was especially tough for him to tell me because of how we have defined our relationship.  We hold eachother accountable.  We both have the same libertarian-ish attitudes toward life.  When I mess up he lets me know it, when he does something dumb I return the favor. 

Constantly we talk about being men of integrity, men who would set a good example for society, and men who would try our best to be pillars for our family and the community – especially since we didn’t have that type of example for ourselves growing up.  We have discussed, specifically, the value of being faithful to our family and wives – all the while he agreed whole-heartedly.  Yet I find out he was being a hypocrite. 

Obviously the situation is much more complicated than that.  Their marriage was far from perfect, but there is no excuse for his behavior.  There were other options.  Worse still – he has two children. 

He asked me for advice and I told him to quit the whole thing “cold turkey”.  I was disappointed, but haven’t ridiculed him for his actions.  There is no need to – he knows exactly where I stand.  We had a long talk about ways to improve his relationship – which he has implemented over the last few weeks.  It seems like things between them are on the right path.

The worst thing, for me, about this whole situation isn’t what he did.  It’s that his folly really brings to the forefront the flawed nature of men.  If he can mistep – my closest companion – then there is no question that anyone can.  We hold eachother to the highest standard, period.  So now it doesn’t surprise me when I hear of a President, a celebrity, or any other man in a position of power who does the same thing. 

People make mistakes – should that define them?  No.  If people make the same mistake over and over again – that’s insanity by definition.  I still hold my friend to the highest standard possible, but honestly it will be a while before I can learn to trust and count on him as much as I did before.  I’m not perfect, not even close, but the whole situation is an interesting insight into people in general.

Humans are such comlex and flawed creatures.

One Opportunity Lost and Another Gained, I guess

Something I never talk about is that I almost went pro as a MMA fighter when I was in college.  Honestly, I don’t really like to bring it up because there are a lot of ideas attached to someone being a fighter. Most of them ideas that I’d rather not have associated with me.

In any case, I trained with a coach and gym that is known around the Southeast for being authentic and tough.  I was 6 – 0 as an amateur, had a background in wrestling, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I was even offered an opportunity to fight in the Governor’s Cup in Russia – which was considered a big opportunity at the time.

Long story short – I hurt my knee. I down-played the severity of the injurt, of course.  I told myself that it was just a strain and I would bounce back.  Eventually I had to cancel the upcoming fight.  I limped around for about a month without seeing the doctor because I was also uninsured.  Looking back on the whole thing I was taking a big risk doing a sport like that with no insurance (duh!), but at the time I had never in my life had insurance so I had no choice but to never let it hold me back. (I guess that’s another story.)

About a year and a half later after I started my career, gave up fighting, and had health insurance for the first time in my life – I went to the doctor after I re-strained my knee (again) playing flag football.  The doctor informed me that I had tore my ACL and meniscus.  Without surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation process I would never be 100% again.  The whole situation was a lot more serious than I thought.

I haven’t forced myself to have the surgery yet either. I hate the idea of spending a year in recovery before I’m back to normal. It would be at least three months before I could even exercise.  The doctor also explained the process is very painful – great. Right now I’m “rehabilitated” and can run and lift weights normally.  I’ve even ran a marathon recently.  So it’s tough to talk myself into getting the surgery – it feels like moving backwards.

The real tragedy isn’t the knee injury though. I can handle that.  Rather my biggest problem is hearing about a few of the guys I used to train with who are now going pro and doing pretty well.  I used to beat up (in the friendliest way possible) those same guys at practice every day.  I could be on TV right now, who knows.  

From a young age I thought I was going to be a pro athlete.  When the “usual” sports didn’t work out and I excelled in high school wrestling MMA seemed like a natural fit. It was.

Now I can’t even watch the sport on TV because I kind of feel like “that should be me.”  Almost like I missed an opportunity.  It’s just kind of hard – like seeing an old girlfriend with another guy or something.  I know its for the best.  I would probably end up brain dead with Parkinson’s Disease or worse.

My interests have changed, but that disire in the pit of my stomach to do something “great” is still there.  It feels like nothing can replace that feeling I’ve felt 100 times after training so hard and then getting a win.  I mean its hard to describe training for 6 weeks, running miles, taking hits, losing weight, not drinking when your friends are out having fun, hitting pads for 2 hours then going home to study – literally blood sweat and tears – then winning.  Fighting is pure. Not many things are. I like that.

Today I heard a guy from my former gym is fighting in Madison Square Garden in a month or so.  I started fighting before him and at the time when I was still training I was the one teaching him – so I might of  had the same opportunity if circumstances been different.   I’m happy, very happy, but I can’t help but feel those old stirring feeling every time I realize I can’t do that stuff anymore.  Kind of sad, but with the realization its all for the best.

Now I have to find something that can put out those flames in my stomach – I wonder sometimes if that’s something only a fighter former fighter can relate to.

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY: not just a conservative buzz word

Personal responsibility has become quite the buzz word.  I think it almost annoys some people.  A lot of conservative republicans have kind of hijacked the phrase and “responsibility” has almost become synonymous with neo-conservatism.  It’s a shame too.  Because really personal responsibility is what America is all about.

What is personal responsibility and what it’s not?

Personal responsibility is helping your neighbor when they need to paint their house.  It’s giving generously to a charity that feeds the hungry.  It’s giving your friend a few groceries to get by when times are tight. It’s busting your ass doing something you love week in and week out so you can get meet your own goals. 

Personal responsibility isn’t looking down on the poor or believing that everyone can be rich.  Those are lies the conservatives on TV seem to believe and liberals spread. 

It’s almost like everyone wants something for nothing.  They expect the invisible pocketbook of the system to pay for it all.  I think that’s where a lot of my distaste for government programs stems from.  Sure – it’s great that there is safety net in place to help out those who can’t help themselves, but it seems so much more moral if the people would do it themselves.  That is – instead of the government helping – we would help our own neighbor. It’s almost like people have become lazy.  Big Brother government will take care of us.

I’m not saying we should disband all government welfare programs.  Hell, keep them all!  I’m just saying lets change the culture and attitude of everyone.  Lets make “help thy neighbor” popular again.  Tax me less so I can give more to my Mother.  Spend less on fighting with Iranians and spend more on hungry Americans (hungry anybody!).  Maybe I’m being overly optimistic about the nature of our fellow humans, maybe no one would give shit unless they were forced to, but surely a system that provides people with the opportunities to take on responsibility for themselves is better than one that is our babysitter.

An example

A perfect example is in my own neighborhood.  We have an optional home owners association fee of $25 a year.  That’s it!  $25 to keep our neighborhood beautiful and home prices high.  We have a volunteer crew that does “handyman” work around the public spaces.  It’s the perfect example of a free market system – helping yourself helps everyone and visa versa.  However, of 185 households only about 35 households have paid the voluntary dues this year.  I suspect eventually around 50 will pay.  Why such a low participation rate for a service that so obviously benefits you directly?

The desire to pass the buck is an obvious tendency.  What if it were a mandatory $25 fee?  The neighborhood would be much nicer and happier – but a little less free.  Which is better?  I have to admit that I think that enforcing the rule may benefit me more (this time), but what about later when I disagree a rule?  What about when that fee is increased to $100, $500, etc.?  

Any Government or system of power has the incentive to keep taxing you more and more because it benefits the decison maker – where as a voluntary fee has the incentive to stay low – so people will actually pay it.  Which system is better?  Both have their benefits, but I choose freedom.  Especially when those enforcing the rules aren’t living in your neighborhood.

The Third Option

A third option exists.  One where everyone freely does the right thing –  everyone would do their part and take responsibility.  All 185 household would pay the $25, the neighborhood would be beautiful.  We could be both rich and free – not just one or the other.

Unfortunately there are always those who will buck the system.  Not do their part.  Some that can’t do their part.  That’s the problem.  How do we solve it?  I don’t know, but I do know that it starts with each and every one of us taking responsibility for ourselves and doing as much as we can for the rest of mankind – Maximizing Liberty and Happiness.

lets talk about MORALITY

In a lot of the books I ready the concept of “natural law” comes up.  For a lot of people the idea of “natural law” justifies certain socially accepted behaviors or is simply used to explain the necessary moral code of a civilized society.  I wonder to myself is the “natural” law really “natural” or is it simply a concept of morality developed in the minds of men.

One one hand I would say that it is obvious that natural law is a man made concept and that basically all laws are when it comes to governing morality.  For example, we can look at the use of drugs.  Some societies praise the use of certain drugs, even in excess, and see it as an attemp to connect with God.  Other societies, such as our own, view drug use in excess as generally immoral. (Though some may disagree)  There are other examples of man made morality – such as homosexuality, gender roles, sexuality, greed, etc.  For each of these topics people have varying and changing understandings of what is right or wrong.  This isn’t natural – since natural implies an idea is biologically programmed into us.

Even the most extreme sins do not always seem to be naturally accepted as universally immoral.  Many ancient tribes (the US today?) considered murder in the form of military conquest as perfectly acceptable.  If the sin is justified – it seems that almost anything can deemed moral.  Natural law seems to go right out the window.

However, while I would for the most part argue that Natural Law is basically man made that doesn’t mean that there is no truth found in them.  Also, just because people have broken and skewed the natural law deosn’t mean they still do not exist.  While perhaps not naturally, that is biologically, programmed within us – perhaps the natural law does serve as a best practices guide for a civilized society to flourish.

I guess what I’m getting as is: Who cares if the “natural law” and our since of morality is man made?  It is no less valid as a behavioral governing system in either case.  Many modern inventions are not “natural” to us biologically, but our no less significant, important, or valid because so.  However, a deeper and more important question lingers – which set of laws, which set of moral guidelines do we accept as truth?  Buddhist or Toist Principals, western ideals, Christian values, US law?  Which and why?

Varying Code of Ethics
The fact is that human beings code of ethics differ.  Personally, I often preach the concept of individual and personal freedom (personal property rights), but others argue a Zeitgust movement is more appropriate.  Ask a Buddhist monk and he may tell you that minimalism and ridding yourself from earthly desires is the path to enlightment and the cure for all suffering. People could argue all day about why one method or ideology is better than another or which would be more effective, etc. 

For example, I would truly love to live in a world where everything was equal, we all shared resources, and we all lived together peacefully (as argued by proponents of the Zeitguist Movement); however, I think this system fails to take into the flawed nature of men – tendancies toward greed, excess, ambition, laziness, and incentive.  Some people would say that I’m wrong and people could change if they were only raised to think differently – I can’t say either way for sure.

All I’m Saying
All I’m saying is that I don’t think any of us know for sure.  What human nature really is, how much of it is natural and how much is learned behavior.  Which set of guiding principals are closest to perfect – or is the perfect world one in which we can choose the one that is right for us?

human nature: Selfish or Empathetic?

I have often wondered if it was human nature to be evil, flawed, and self centered.  There are whole schools of thought based around the idea that people are selfish.  There is a lot of evidence that says we are, by nature.  What if that’s not true?  What if we are only selfish as a product of our environment?  Does this mean that we have created our own misery and that our natural evolution would have us be so much more peaceful and caring?  What do you think?

See what the scientist has to say about Empathy.

I’m of the opinion that the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is all too true.  It’s easy to lose empathy for a guy you just fired if that means your family gets a little more food to eat.  There is a fine line between empathy for a stranger and self benefit for yourself and your family.  I think there is a lot of hope and truth in the video, but I still think that hundreds of years of human actions would prove that we are MOSTLY self/immediate family concerned when making decisions and less universally empathetic.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could expand our self centered view point and care about everyone enough to repress our selfishness though?

Imagine if we cared about the starving children in Africa as much as we did about our hungry son or daughter – I imagine that would be and immediate cure for world hunger, disease, and war.  It’s a great thought.