Making It on the Hustle

In the two years since I’ve left my last regular day job, I’ve done gigs that are referred to as ‘hustles’ sometimes. I’ve done delivery work and now I drive for Uber.

First, I want to say I’ve made a lot of mistakes because I went into this totally blind thinking it was way easier than it really is, and because I thought things would just magically fall into place for me because it’s what I wanted.

The mistakes I made were not hustling more to make more money at the outset so I’d have a cushion built up and something to maybe fall back on. Also, I was exceptionally lazy and just let shit slide right down the toilet with me in it. But I’m still waking up on this side of the dirt and living in a place with a roof over my head for me and my pets so I must be doing something right.

So what I have learned about hustling to get this far?

1) You have got to be disciplined. No one is going to ride your ass telling you what to do or when to do it. It’s so damn easy to just put off things until tomorrow thinking that you can do it tomorrow. DON’T DO THAT! Do it now would be my motto to start with this. Set a goal and don’t stop until you hit it.

2) Balance. We’re all human and we all have our good days and our bad days. Sometimes you have to push through the bad day even though sometimes you just can’t do that. It’s a hard thing to realize but you have to know when you can push it, and when to back off.

3) Never forget the life you left, and never want to go back to. And also know that the further you get away from your former life, the harder it will be to go back to it. Don’t look back and remember why you walked away in the first place. And keep moving forward even if it’s just surviving.

4) No one knows everything and the price of it. Some people catch on quicker and move faster but that doesn’t make them know-it-all perfect gurus. And beware of fast-talking bullshit. How much money you can earn by hustling depends on how much time you’re willing to put into it. Because you may find a good groove sometimes, and there may be times when you don’t. There are going to be days when you have to take a shot at doing things differently not knowing if they’ll pay off. But you don’t know what works until it does, or doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, then you just have to deal with it.

5) Never give up, or give in. Have your moments of despair and wailing-shit, then shut the fuck up and move on. Yes you do have to have a kick-ass attitude to get through the lean-and-mean times but trust me, it’s a good attitude to have. Try not to think about any shit-bombs coming down on you because if they do you’ll just have to deal with them anyway.

6) Try not to give any time or energy to what ‘people’ might think about how you live. Trust me, the ‘people’ that might mouth off at you honestly don’t give a shit. They just have diarrhea of the mouth and you’re a convenient toilet bowl to them. Don’t be anyone’s toilet bowl and don’t take shit if you’re not giving it like my dad always used to say.

7) Enjoy the good times and pat yourself on the back when you figure something out or accomplish a goal. It doesn’t matter how long the good time lasts, or how you figured something out and got it done. It just matters that you did and use the moment as a way to remind yourself that you can do it again and again.

8) Try not to depend on anyone. I know there are people out there who will help but they may not be able to all the time. Live like you’re on Mars with a serious radio delay and no cavalry that will come to save you. Save yourself. Be your own hero/heroine.

9) Know that you’ll go without stuff that’s absolutely not essential for survival. These things will seem like small luxuries to you but basic necessary stuff to most people. But know that eventually you’ll scrape up a few extra bucks to indulge yourself a little. Don’t take any shit for doing that and don’t give yourself any shit for it either. Eat the greasy fast-food, buy something nice for yourself, and enjoy the hell out of it with no apologies to anyone.

10) Have the cockiness of Han Solo, and remember that Millennium Falcon was the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. Appearances don’t matter but skill and attitude to. It’s not who you know or whose ass you have kiss with a hustle: it’s what you can do and how you can do it.

Peeling Back the Layers of Caring

One of the biggest problems I have with myself is that I care too damn much. And to compound on that, I can’t express that worth a shit. I can hide it with cynicism or stoicism, but in reality, I am a mushy-marshmallow of caring. But since I’m a klutz physically, mentally, and emotionally, my mushy-marshmallow of caring falls off the stacked s’more to the dirt below.

Whenever I start to feel that high-pitched hum of anxiety and adrenalin coursing through me like a hot electrical current, I know two things now:

1) I’m nervous about something I’m coming right up to the wire on.

2) I’m also butting up against something and even if I know what it is and what I need to do to deal with it, I don’t want to do because it’s not going to be easy.

But after number two up there, I remember that I’ve been told from the time I can remember that nothing would be easy for me. I remember I’ve been told that I would have to work very hard to get whatever I got then work like hell to keep it. I sure as hell wasn’t told things were going to be easy for me, nor did I have things handed to me, either. I’ve always felt that nothing has come easy for me and that the times when it feels like it’s flowing well to know that easy-flow won’t last.

That all sounds cynical there but that’s where the rub is: I’m not a cynical person. Oh, I can get into cynicism and sarcasm with the best of them but deep down, I care.

Caring for me is feeling passionate about things. It’s about liking things with an intensity that can be obsessive at times. It’s about wanting something so much yet terrified of succeeding because of what it might cost me. Yes, I’ve had a fear that if I really succeed at something that ‘someone’ (that almost-mythical ‘someone’) won’t like me and will actively hate on me and try to take it from me. I’ve always denied this until just now with that last sentence I wrote.

I’m glad I finally peeled back that layer and guess what, it didn’t hurt too badly. Actually, I’m feeling a bit more calm now that I see those words on the screen here as I type them. Because as I think about it, wanting to succeed at something and caring about it is a duel-edged sword for me. On one side is my desire to succeed at something I want, and the other is being hated on for caring so much about that.

All my life I’ve felt like I’ve cared too much, and that it was inappropriate at best and downright wrong at worst. Because even in my shittiest jobs for example, I cared about doing a good job and taking care of the people I was being paid to work with and help. And in my former corporate life, that wasn’t welcomed without co-workers hating on me and in some cases actively trying to undermine me, and management that felt like I was challenging them. It’s why I don’t miss that life anymore and why I want this one I have now to succeed as much as I do.

But I will say that writing about things does help me. It helps me not only to see things with my own eyes that I need to see, but to also know that I can work through things even if they’re hard. And every so often I get a bit lucky and things come together and work for me in a way that’s not so bad.

I don’t mind having a kick-ass attitude, but sometimes I like to have an attitude of Zen-calm or laid-back chill. I’m all of that and I think the more I understand and accept that, the better off I’ll be. Because every situation requires its’ own way of being handled, past a certain point there is no ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way if the objective is accomplished.

Finding Bravado, Super-Uber-Girl Style

Super-Uber Girl is a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Super-Uber-Girl) I created to post fun stuff about being an Uber driver. But I didn’t want to do a short post because I have more material today than for a regular Facebook status post.

Last night I set a new record for my longest Uber ride: 125 miles from San Antonio International Airport to Carrizo Springs. The guy I picked up was down here for a job in the oil fields and going to stay with his buddy who got him the job. He was a very nice guy and I made him laugh with some of my stupid stories. But I started the run at ten o’clock at night and didn’t get back home till almost two-thirty a.m..

Now I will say that if my father were alive he’d be freaking out over this because as much as I loved my father, he was so freaking over-protective of me. It wasn’t like I did stupid stuff as a kid to warrant that because not only was I very shy and quiet, but very physically risk-adverse as well. It was like he didn’t think I had it in me to handle anything that wasn’t a safe, sit-down type of job. I will say that I haven’t taken what I feel are unnecessary risks but at the same time, the world isn’t going to eat me alive. Because if the world or some Godzilla-like monster wanted to eat me alive, I’m sure there’s nothing I could do to stop it.

But Godzilla is just a movie and the real monsters are in human form spouting racist bullshit and talking about wars while trying to legislate all the things that will make life shit for most everyone but themselves. And this is all while claiming ‘it’s for your own good’ and to please shut the hell up and do what you’re told even though it’s making you sick and miserable.

And again, I loved my father to pieces but he spouted a variation of ‘it’s for your own good’ to try and get me to fall in line all my life. So in a way my Uber-driving feels like an act of rebellion at times. I started driving for Uber part-time in addition to other gigs like food delivery and package delivery. But then I discovered I liked Uber driving because all I do is pick up people and drop them off. My job is two-parts navigation and driving and one-part trying to make funny conversation if so inclined. I’ve never come off an Uber-run wanting to tear something apart because of bullshit I had to swallow like I did too many times to remember in my former life in call-center hell.

On the road last night as I headed out of the city, a few stray thoughts wandered into my head like if something happened. First, I wasn’t going off to Camp Crystal Lake (had to get a ‘Friday the 13th’ joke in here) as I was on a busy highway with numerous places to stop along the way. Two, the guy I was with was a complete gentleman. And three, I was just doing my job. So if something had happened I would just have had to deal with it. But it’s not blind-faith that guides me on nights like that.

It’s a faith that I can deal with whatever is thrown at me. It may not be in a way someone else likes, or approves of, or any of their other bullshit. But more often than not, nothing really happens. I’ve learned that if you just put one foot in front of the other, or keep your foot on the gas in last night’s case, and keep going you’ll get to where you need to go. And if something does happen, you just deal with it without wringing your hands or pitching a shit-fit like a spoiled brat. And I have tried my best to just deal with things head-on and get it done without too much hand-wringing. I will admit that I have panicked more than once and lost my shit a few times, but I am human and therefore allowed to fuck up once in a while.

Sometimes I have to beg, borrow, or steal time to figure something out but time isn’t like money in a bank vault that you’ll go to jail for stealing. Time is fluid though slippery as heck sometimes, too. But it’s not the enemy. No, for me time is a friend that will work with me if I just give it room to breathe and flow. That’s where my faith in this world comes from: just letting time move in its’ own way and keeping myself afloat.

There are times when this attitude feels like an act of bravado I used to think was an illusion. It’s not an illusion because somehow, some way I’ve been able to make things work. Maybe not in a nice-and-neat way but trust me, steady jobs and steady paychecks can be yanked out from under you in the blink of an eye. In my former call-center life there was a saying that someone could be managed out the door. I saw that first-hand and I think there was an attempt to do that to me more than once. But now how much money I make or how well I do at this Uber-gig of mine depends on how much I put into it. And I’m not just talking time on the road, but about how much I believe in myself.

So I’m reaching the point where I don’t want to back away from bravado. It won’t always be a world-class rant like yesterday’s post here. But deep down, I will know that I always had it in me to make things happen. I might not know how I’ll get from point A to point B sometimes, and sometimes I just have to go out and do what I do and hope that things will work out. But I’d rather be on the road making money by turning my wheels than sitting around and eating bullshit for a living. Because yes I take things one day at a time but in reality, that’s all we’ve got to work with.

Peeling Back the Layers

Warning: Seriously bad language here but since this honest-and-searing writing, no apology given, just a warning.

For the last week or so I’ve kind of been avoiding the world of people except when I absolutely have to. Now I will freely admit most of my real interactions with people are on social media via an internet connection but they’re still interactions. Also, I haven’t posted much on Facebook and I haven’t blogged in forever, too. This morning as I sat in bed with my dog cuddled up against me, I realized why.

The thought I had was this: I’m beginning to peel back the layers I’ve placed over myself and my writing. My writing is what I feel is my primary form of self-expression since I’m a class-A recluse most of the time. I like writing funny, jokey, or navel-gazing stuff that ultimately turns positive. But there is this part of me that’s calling bullshit on some of that. I tell myself that my funny/jokey/navel-gazer-positive-thinking persona is real, but I also have a persona whose humor is as black as shit sometimes, whose jokes are class-A sarcasm, and who is tired of navel-gazing where I’m supposed to only look up and smile afterwards.

I don’t want to freaking smile and laugh about shit all the damn time. I want to be honest. And my writing over the last few days has been really honest, and absolutely searing at times. I’ve shown a little of it off in the past and pretty much gotten a yawn, which is fine. I’m not looking for a twenty-four hour news-cycle blast for what I’m doing. But I’m glad that I have found a tiny ounce of courage to go forward with this more honest-and-searing way of thinking.

Because like so many people, especially women, there is this need to put on a smile when all you want to do is scream, cuss someone out, or just tell the world to go to Hell and also say the good old days really sucked sometimes. That last part has really helped me as it was something my mother said and am now really beginning to understand. Yes, there were good times in the past but there was also a lot of shit. I may not come forth with all of it, but I’m not going to paste a smile over it and try to smother it into silence either.

Because right now I really want to say that at times I feel like my life and my attitude are a total pile of stinking shit. I get pissed off about a lot of shit and once I’m done being pissed off I tell it to piss off altogether. And I’m really getting to the point where I honestly don’t give a shit what anyone might think. Because as I write this I don’t feel that old stupid fear of someone’s going to stomp me into a pile of nothing or come and take what little I have. If someone honestly wants to make that much of a damn effort to stomp me into a pile of human shit, then there probably isn’t much I can do about it. But since I don’t know anyone with that much anger at me I honestly can say that I’m just thinking about the boogey man and we all know how fake he is. And if someone wants to take what little I have, I probably won’t be able to stop them either.

I’ve gotten low, yes. But my lower-than-low is wanting to run off and live in the wild and never see another human being again. Yet it’s not people in general that piss me off. It’s their freaking bullshit that tries to ruin perfectly-good things for no other reason than their own freaking stupidity and ego. You can’t fix stupid as the old saying goes, but you also can’t reason with it or teach it either. Stupidity is just a lack of information altogether while ignorance is forcing information to fit in a way that doesn’t always work then verbally kicking the crap out of someone for defying that.

Maybe I should be nicer but I’ve tried to be nice and whatnot and all I’ve gotten is a pile of shit in return. I would love to go back to the happy-go-lucky, look-towards-the-sunny-side-of-life kind of thing and I’m sure that persona will return at some point in time. Honestly, I really do like that sunny-side of me but sometimes she just needs to sit it out, too. And today she’s taking a break and sitting on the beach reading a book and sipping on a margarita for me.

In the past I’ve always shied away from fire-and-fury telling myself I can’t run on it forever and it’s a waste of energy anyway. First, I’m not an idiot and I know I can’t run on one thing forever so I call bullshit on that. Second, energy is only wasted if it’s hoarded or forced into submission. And third, it’s alright to get pissed off and defiant about shit and not apologize for it. Because one thing I’m really happy to see here with this set of words today is a lack of apologies, or fucks given. The only fuck I want is one that brings me an orgasm, not an apology that’s unnecessary to begin with.

Keeping the Faith

My maternal grandmother used to say you either had faith or you didn’t, no two ways about it. For a long time, I thought that didn’t take into account the complexities of this world and the vast amounts of gray there are sometimes. But I’ve come to the conclusion that she was right.

For me, if I don’t believe in something then I don’t see a reason to do something. Because to me, faith is about caring, caring about yourself and the world around you, and a belief that if you don’t give up on yourself or the world around you, then things will work out in some way.

I don’t believe in a faith that’s all about pleasing some mystical all-knowing all-seeing force commonly referred to as God. I don’t see God as an old white bearded guy hurling shit down on top of humans for every little fuck-up or bad thought. That’s just the work of some dumb-ass human trying to keep other humans in line and keep them from questioning or challenging things that need to be challenged. I see God as a force beyond our limited understanding but that our own decisions and actions are what drives life here on Earth. I believe in free will, and the ability to make decisions and solve problems. And I believe in the good of this world despite all the awful shit in it. To me, those last two things are what define my faith: the ability to make decisions, and a belief that good will always triumph over bad.

It’s something that I need to remind myself some days more than others because fear and anxiety can grip me as hard as it wants to, and only my faith can loosen that grip. Sometimes this means taking things one day at a time, just get through this day and worry about the next one when it comes.

Another thing about faith is that it acknowledges the great mysteries in life itself, the past, present, and future, and what is beyond this world. Because not all questions have answers, and I wonder if some questions are never meant to have answers. Faith in regards to the great mysteries is saying to keep living even if you don’t have all the answers and know that you won’t ever find all of those answers either.

So whenever I think I’m a fuck-up for making things up as I go along and just dealing with crap as it comes, I tell myself that’s alright. I tell myself it’s alright because no one, not me or anyone else, knows what’s going to happen next. I think the only thing I can say for certain will happen next is that the sun will come up tomorrow because scientists say that our sun has about four-billion years of life left in it before it turns into a giant star and incinerates the Earth. And if they’re wrong… well, we haven’t found a way to get off this rock and colonize another world yet so why worry about that, too?

A Lesson in Silence, and Breaking It, Too

Friday night I had a rider in the car with me and we got to talking and our conversation didn’t go as well as I would have liked it to. We had disagreements on various political and social issues and one thing he said to me rocked me hard. But once the dust settled and the vibrations ended from that earthquake in my mind, heart, and soul, I had a moment of clarity. And early the next morning I wrote what you can see in the PDF file here.

This is some of the most revealing writing I’ve ever posted and I’ve had to sit on it for the last few days to make sure I could handle it going forward. But like what else I’ve posted here on this blog-website of mine, I’m proud of it. I’m proud of my honesty, my clarity, and the emotions behind the words. As I’ve said many times before, writing is not easy, especially when it turns into a therapy session. But for me, writing gives me hope, and clarity about myself and the world around me.

The ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project has been in my mind for close to a year now. But it has been very slow going because when I get near a very painful thing in myself, I back off and have to work through that in whatever amount of time I need to. I can’t force it to go any faster than it does and maybe it will get a bit easier over time for me to deal with. But for now, sometimes I have to let my words have to sit and settle for awhile before I let them out into the world.

But here is the best articulation of what the ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project means to me.

Breaking Radio Silence – introduction

The Past Doesn’t Matter

WARNING: PROFANITY WITH NO APOLOGY

The old proverb of ‘Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it’ gets trotted out so much that I see it as a tired old horse that needs to be put out to pasture. Because not only are a lot of humans freaking dumb-asses who can’t even learn how to take a shit properly, they don’t care to learn about doing do so in the first place. And most of all, they don’t give a damn about the past when they do awful things like others have done before.

This thought came to me as I see people trotting out tired old horses like the proverb above and also ‘well, this was done by so-and-so’ and ‘they did bad things, too’.

No one can go back and change the past so if anyone throws past shit on the table during a discussion, it needs to be cleared off the table and thrown in the trash. Because bringing up the past is just digging through the garbage to try to bring something back to life that’s dead.

I think people look to the past because they don’t want to face the present in all its’ shitty glory (insert sarcasm here). Yes, I can look back on my past and think fondly of it. But I can also look back and say what my mother used to say: “The good old days sucked.” And there are things in my past that I would rather not talk about, nor relive because I learned some pretty shitty lessons about people and life in general back then. But now I am working my butt off not to live by that shit. Every time in my mind when I feel a bit of regret and start to do ‘would’ve-could’ve-should’ve’ as my father used to call it, I shut it down and tell myself to focus on the here and now.

Yes, I freely admit that I live in the present. I live without a safety net so to speak, and without a lot of money right now, either. I survive, yes, but in that survival I’ve learned more about living than in my previous forty-four years. And I’ve learned that if I want to solve my problems, I need to focus on the here-and-now and what I can do today. Because looking to my past sure as hell hasn’t solved any of my problems so why should I look there for answers to the present?

So in the larger context of the world around us, let’s quit trying to dodge the problem by saying ‘oh we need to learn from the past in order not to do this again’, or ‘someone else did this before so why all the fuss now?’ The second is even more full of bullshit than the first one. How in the freaking hell does a past action by someone cause a present problem? If someone fucked up before, yeah they’ll probably fuck up again. But what if they’re not fucking up now, but someone else is? Why not go after the someone else in the present doing the fucking up?

Now, I will admit here that you can look back at decisions made and decide not to make those same decisions again. I strongly believe that we can all make different decisions than we have before, and that we can make different decisions than those of people around us, even ones that hurt us. And as long as your decision is not causing harm, it’s not wrong. And if someone doesn’t like that, tell them to kiss your ass then fuck off. This tit-for-tat, past-versus-present bullshit is just that, total bullshit because these face-offs over past and present don’t accomplish a damn thing. It’s a tactic used to divert someone from making a decision for themselves, and not facing a present issue head-on.

Yes, I’m sure we’ve all fucked up in the past. I know I sure as hell have. And I could say I did the best I could with what I had to work with, and what I knew then, and blah, blah, blah. But I can’t go back and change things since I haven’t discovered time-travel and you know what, I don’t want to. I know very well that life isn’t perfect, but I believe we can always move forward unless we’re dead and buried.

And I think this is why I’m having trouble looking back on things and writing about them now. I’m so focused on the present that the past is losing its’ hold on me. And it feels good, real good in fact.

So my advice to anyone reading this would be to break those chains that you’ve given to the past, and don’t use the past as a way of avoid dealing with the present.

Stories and Trust

Last night I was in downtown San Antonio and I saw two cops with a homeless person. I and the riders I was with began talking about the homeless people and one of them used the term ‘professional panhandler’ to explain why they wouldn’t give money directly to a homeless person.

First, that’s their choice and I can respect that. But as I got to thinking about it, I realized that ‘professional panhandler’ is more of a means of survival than anything. Yes, I’ve heard stories of panhandlers on street corners getting into nice cars and driving off. But what if that nice car is all they have and they’re actually living out of it, or if there is some other circumstance that makes panhandling a means to survive? There is an old saying that appearances can be deceiving, or as I like to say, a single appearance doesn’t tell the whole story.

I was reading an article recently about homeless shelters in which homeless people described the shelters as shittier than the streets they were living on. They said these places were unsafe dumps with rules and people who were more focused on enforcing rules than making these places safe and secure in order to build trust and find solutions. And that got me thinking about how to make these places work better:

Listen to the stories people have to tell and are living, then work to earn their trust by creating a safe environment of people who will listen, and help without shame and guilt.

Because as bad as life on the streets can be, communities can be formed there, too. I’ve read interviews with homeless people who won’t leave the streets because they have people there they can trust, and because the people trying to help them haven’t done anything to earn that trust. Safety isn’t built on four-walls and roof, but from the people that live inside those four-walls-and-a-roof and take care of the people inside. It’s also people not forcing others into a box of their own choosing without listening to what that person needs or wants. And yes, homeless people can have both needs and wants because wants are hopes and dreams. Some people can spout beautiful bullshit about people needing hopes and dreams but will only apply that to people who they deem worthy.

Now another criticism I hear is how people are given a million chances and still piss on them. I know addicts can break trust repeatedly and there is a question of how many chances someone should get. That’s not a question I can answer. But I’ve read how a lot of addicts try to hide their relapses because of the shame and guilt they feel. So if someone is feeling shame and guilt because they’re human and make mistakes, I don’t think we need to pile more shame and guilt on top of that. No one can go back in time and do things over so why do we think that people who fuck up are supposed to do that? Instead, I say focus on the present and move forward because all we can do is learn from the past. We sure as hell don’t need to force someone to stay locked in the past when they’re right here now.

Now I will admit there are people out there who refuse to deal with their issues and use substance abuse or shitty behavior to avoid doing that. This to me is an absence of emotions such as empathy, compassion, and conscience. Because I feel that if you care about the world around you and the people in it, you’ll care about yourself. And caring about yourself does mean dealing with your issues and not projecting your shit about them onto the rest of the world. People who won’t deal with their crap because they can’t feel any empathy, compassion, or conscience may have to be avoided in the need for self-preservation because of that. Emotions and the ability to feel them are what makes a person human, and makes them understand their actions have consequences. So if I can sense emotions in a person and the ability to feel them, I say there is hope, and with enough time and patience, help and solutions might follow.

I think the age-old question of whether we are our brother’s keeper doesn’t have a single answer, or an easy one. But I feel we have to keep asking it, and keep working to find answers to it on an individual basis. And that’s why I always say everyone has a story to tell, a story that they’re living. If we truly listen to these stories then I think we can start to find solutions to some of the problems out there. And in order to help, we need to keep that story in mind and take patience from it when obstacles come onto the road to the answers. Because as long as we can feel empathy, compassion, and conscience in ourselves, and in others, then we can learn to trust. And with trust comes what I believe may the greatest gift to anyone: hope.

Far Enough

Last night I was with a passenger and one of the questions he asked was where I was from. I told him I was born and raised in San Antonio and his reply was, “You didn’t get very far, did you?”

Now I was in traffic so I didn’t have a way of replying to that, and in reality I’m sure for him it was an attempt at humor that he probably forgot about a minute after he said it. But I will admit here, it ticked me off. And just because I haven’t been really been too far from San Antonio doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten very far in life.

My definition of ‘far’ is not physical, but mental and emotional. Those are two things that can’t be measured in miles, or dollar signs, or by any other material means. Yes, I want to see the world and travel but if I don’t, I’ll be just fine. But I know not everyone feels the way I do, and I’m sure a lot of people view themselves as failures for not amassing wealth or travel.

This morning I woke up to the news that Anthony Bourdain, the writer and former restaurant chef had committed suicide. My heart breaks for him and his loved ones but I wonder if his immense travel was a way of trying to run from something. Because years ago, I thought about running away and never coming back. I wasn’t suicidal but thought that I would just be better off by myself as I felt like I was a failure in terms of being around people.

I’ve come to realize that my failure wasn’t entirely my fault. Yes I was, and am still a klutz verbally sometimes, especially with expressing my feelings. But I’ve come to realize that everyone else isn’t perfect either. Yet I wonder how many people struggle so hard to maintain a veneer of perfection, or a certain persona when they don’t feel that way at all. For years, I didn’t know how I was supposed to be in this world. I felt like everything I tried to do I inevitably failed at. But I look back and see that I wasn’t failing, but moving forward from things that weren’t working for me, and leaving some things behind that could have permanently harmed me.

In the eyes of certain people in this world, I’m a raging failure right now because I haven’t been anywhere, and I haven’t done anything really successful. I disagree with that because my definition of success differs from the generally accepted definition and standard, which is an accumulation of property and wealth with a healthy dose of travel thrown in.

And in addition to accumulating wealth, traveling the world doesn’t make you a better person because I’ve met people who have traveled the world and they’re still uptight, self-righteous, judgmental pricks. When they travel, they don’t see things as they are, but as they want them to be, as they think they should be. Anthony Bourdain didn’t see the world that way so when he talked about people needing to travel, it was about learning about other cultures and food. It was about seeing the world as it really is, and not what we think it should be.

And we need to remember to see ourselves as we really are, and not what some assholes in this world think we should be. We need to define success on our own terms, and stand against the voices that tell us otherwise even if we’re scared, hurting, and alone. Because that is far enough to see the light, and live for that.

 

Keep Trying (Even When It’s a Pain In the Neck- Literally)

WARNING: Bad language here today

A few days ago I kinked up my neck muscles and it’s taken me days to fully un-kink them but I still have to watch what I’m doing. This is the long-time consequence of having a seriously-crooked back like mine. Problem is, when the pain is that bad I can’t get comfortable and I can’t find a position to write in. And couple that with having trouble getting a grip on what to write… yeah, I’m sure you can see where this is going.

By the way, my neck is doing much better now.

I’ve told myself sometimes it’s hard to listen to my own advice and not think it’s total bullshit. But ‘Keep Trying’ isn’t bad advice because it’s not promising me anything. I’m not saying ‘Keep Trying and Things Will Get Better’. Some things may get better but shit will still happen. It’s getting through that shit that really counts sometimes. And I sure as hell don’t know all the ways to get through that because sometimes what’s worked in the past doesn’t work in the present.

But somehow I find the strength, fortitude, or just plain old stubborn-pride to keep going. Maybe it’s also the fact that I like a roof over my head and food in my belly that keeps me going, too. And that’s okay, in fact I think it’s more than okay to keep going out of sheer survival sometimes and not some high-and-mighty purpose. I think people should be recognized for just getting through each day in one piece because sometimes that’s all you can do. After time, though, I do believe that moments of clarity will come to show possible changes in direction. But keeping on through each and every day is momentum despite what some a-holes might say isn’t. And it’s not just that we’re all on our way to the grave together, but that until the Earth stops turning and or the sun eats our planet, that’s the way it will always be.

There is a criticism leveled at people who work long hours or multiple jobs for low pay for not doing anything other than just working so hard just to survive. Criticism is leveled at them for not going to school to get more skills, or getting a job that pays more, or not working so many hours to spend more time with their children, or not being involved in political or social activism.

To those critics I will say one thing: Fuck You.

That criticism is such a slap in the face to all those people who just are trying to get through one day at a time. Because trust me, they know there is a world beyond their own and yes, they want to be a part of that, and they want more out of life in general, and they want to do better. But running your mouth at them, hammering them with guilt or condemnation isn’t going to solve their problems. All I can do is just say ‘good job’ with the survival and keep trying to get through every day in one piece. And this is why I feel my advice sometimes is total bullshit because although my words might bring a bit of support to somebody, they’re not really doing enough to solve problems.

Maybe I’m not meant to be a problem-solver on any kind of scale, and that’s a hard thought to deal with sometimes. It’s also hard to deal with the fact that I honestly don’t think I’m reaching anyone outside of a very tiny circle of people. And I’m still afraid some critical-asshole will go after me and say that I should just keep my mouth shut and write stories or work a dead-end job then die. And worst of all, that I will back down. I hope that I won’t in the face of that bullshit but I will have a hell of a fight on my hands.

So this ‘Keep Trying Even If It Is a Pain in the Neck’ advice isn’t just keep going despite the pain, but also keep going as an act of defiance against critical-assholes. My father used to say it was pointless to beat the crap out of a drunk or an idiot and he was right. But I would also add it’s pointless to go after someone who runs their damn mouth at you then walks away and forgets what they said five minutes later. Being afraid to write this down and get that kind of shit is what holds me back. And it’s what I have to ‘Keep Trying’ to fight against.

So I’m posting this now before I can change my mind and edit this down any further.