Motivational Problems

I’m currently searching the World Wide Web for the origins of motivation and the means in which I can procure it… It shouldn’t have surprised me that there were a great number of websites and blogs written on the subject.

Many sites dedicated to the cause of blustering motivation into full blown movement, many have suggested to start small and focus on only one thing.  This seems absurdly naive…  After all, there are a myriad of obligations that necessitates my focus in order to survive in today’s society.  I NEED and income, in which I am required (for the most part) to work.  I have a family that have needs, as well as a need to eat and have an abode in which we sleep and dine in.  There are bills that need attention and cars that need maintenance.  There is also a need to make a public appearances to friends and family in order to prove that I haven’t slid into oblivion and have gone absolutely bat-shit crazy!  It seems ludicrous that someone could possibly live in a world where all this insanity can be placed on pause in order for them to focus on one little “baby-step” towards untethered motivational bliss.

Many of these sites suggest a need to “Be Excited!”, which seems a little redundant.  If I were excited about something… ANYTHING…  I would have the motivation to chase it wouldn’t you think?  There are the ridiculous things to be excited about; I would love to travel the world in excess comfort and the frivolity of someone obscenely rich but without the funds to do so, the excitement really tapers off.  So in this morbid domino effect, reason tells me that I need to become horrendously rich!  But how does one become rich if that in fact does not excite you?

Did I mention drugs?

I have a friend whose motivation is awe inspiring…  no, even more so than that– It’s almost legendary in stature, and it’s horribly intimidating to me.  Looking her in the face is as painful and as all encompassing as staring into the sun.  The awful shame of knowing that I could never hold a candle to the motives of that one person is dizzying…  and in some cases, nauseating.  So, for a short while in the attempts to keep pace with those more motivated than myself, I resorted to a small compendium of drugs to push me.  The obvious choice of speed and amphetamines to help gain those crucial miles in inspiration.  And the outcome of course was…

It worked.

Now before the outrage begins I’ll reassure you that this was very short lived and in reality would be very hard to maintain.  I worked hard and I gained ground.  Money was pouring in and I felt great, the goals I set for myself were being blown out of the water and I was running strong.  Or at least I thought I was until I realized that somehow my goals and trajectories for the future were being rerouted to the simple process of obtaining more speed to keep me going.  I guess that’s the cycle people keep talking about.  I vaguely remember the public announcement commercial about the guy saying that he needs more coke, so that he can keep working, so he can buy more coke.  Admittedly, that commercial has some merit… subtracting the amazing feeling, crazy parties, outrageous nightlife and sex scandels, but than it does slide back to,

“Jesus.  I NEED MORE COKE!!”.

My drug addiction ended when I noticed that time was most certainly an issue.  If I were to stay perpetually twenty-four than a steady coke addiction would probably be a more prominent role in my life.   The frightening aspect of the story really comes down to the fact that now, nearly fourteen years later, I could go to a doctor and tell them the truth about my absolute lack of motivation and they would likely prescribe a varied concoction of medications that do the exact same thing…

Does that mean that depressed people just need a little speed?

Does that mean I’m depressed?

Probably…

In reality, what I would like to do is own a small home in some medium town where I can write quaint little articles and make a simple little living with my family.   That’s my goal and my motivation, but that motivation is so small and that medium township seems so far away.

Things do look smaller in the distance… Is that thinking small enough?

It’s late at night…

I often wonder about what it is I’m walking towards…

There is a wonderful little monologue in the play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” written by Tom Stoppard in which Guildenstern (or possibly Rosencrantz) was speaking about death. I won’t bore you with my straining ability to remember a quote verbatim but I remember the ending in which he said,

“out we come, bloodied and squalling…with the
knowledge that for all the points of the compass,
there’s only one direction
and time is its only measure.”

There’s never a question of you getting somewhere when you get older, nor is there much of a reason to question where you’ve come to when you’re done. In all honesty, you could arguably do nothing your entire life and still travel near a century in distance and yet no one finds that to be much of an accomplishment.

For instance, my daughter is soon to be where I was twenty years prior looking at my father and I can’t help but compare where I am now to where he was at my age. The conditions are different no one could argue that, but in that temporal jaunt we are passing each other in that port-hole of time and I’m worried that I came up short in the comparison.

This could be the source of what a “mid-life” crisis could be for a man.

And yet, there isn’t much to come short on. At thirty-eight my old man was trying to get a business off the ground. He was working as a pressman at a Air Force base in New Mexico only to quit and drag his family cross country to Minnesota to open a bar. Only the bar didn’t pan out so well. Five years in and a plethora of bills forced him to close his doors, he took a position as a maintenance man at a local company and would stay at that company for another 20+ years till they cut him loose.

It’s only now does it occur to my how frightening it must have been to be turned out in your mid-fifties and left to your own devices. We barely made Middle-class. And he faked a smile on so many occasions hoping not to worry my mom or the rest of us. He found another job in management and worked til his retirement.

So is there a time in your life where you yank and the reigns and declare bankruptcy on your dreams for the future? Does “over the Hill” truly mean, “Let Go and Coast From Here On In”?

My dreams came with two statements…

I want to be an author.

And

There are too many hack authors in the world…

So you Tell me,
What am I walking towards?

I’ve gotta question…

There’s this nerdy questions game my nerdy daughter likes to play with her nerdy dad, it’s called “If you could have any ***** from any movie/cartoon/comic book, what would you pick”.

For example, my daughter would love to have a light cycle from Tron, while brandishing a gravity hammer from Halo and hanging out with Johnny from Johnny the Homocidal Maniac.

I on the other hand would rather drive the tumbler from the Dark Knight movies, while brandishing the glaive from Krull and hang out with Constantine from Hellblazer.

So I was curious as to what you guys would pick… A vehicle, a weapon and a character you would hang out with.

Late night…

There’s a great quote that says,

“Patience is a virtue and ignorance is bliss. So if you’re stupid and you don’t mind sitting around than you’re going to have a pretty good life.”

It was a comedian that said it… Maybe Carlin… Who knows. Point being I want a pretty good life. I’ve been called a patient man and I don’t think I’m the sharpest tool in the shed and to be honest I’m not a unhappy person. But it does seem that others around me struggle to smile.

Are they too intelligent for their own good? Like one of Voltaire’s ill fated characters hell bent on believing that this is the best possible lives in which to live?

Maybe I’m the delusional one… Yet, it only seems rational to take pleasure in the simple things until you can improve your situation.

A grumpy successful bastard simply does not sound like satisfying living.

There are three rules I normally go by;

1.) LOVE OFTEN!!! Your friends, your family, your pets, your car, your neighbors, books, art, music, strangers and all. (That doesn’t mean you have to go out and join a commune, it simply means that when you love and are loved in return it validates your self worth and the value of those around you.)

2.) RECOGNIZE that to be envious is to be human. Wish you had your cousins house or your neighbors new car? That is a human reaction to a human condition. What helps me cope with that condition is to realize what others had to endure or what advantages they were given in order to achieve those envious items are probably things I wouldn’t want to endeavor in the first place… Don’t get me wrong, if someone offered me an opportunity In which to attain things I am envious over I would do so. But than those achievements would be about my attainment and not of other’s. After all, the journey Is what matters, not the goal.

3.) SMILE!!! For the love of what ever deity you want to lay claim to!! Have a sense of humor. If children and the elderly living in third world countries can see a sunrise and smile than you can spare a smirk in the midst of a shitty (and most likely a fickle) situation. Seriously, it may be true that the world don’t care wether you live or die, but what that really means is that it’s not working against you either. It simply just doesn’t matter so you can certainly take comfort in knowing there is no cosmic vendetta going on.

*WARNING*
None of these rules have made me rich and/or famous. All they have done is allowed me to sleep unfettered by guilt and kept me from slipping into a depressed madness. Beyond that you’re on your own.

Parent of a child who suffers anxiety…

My daughter grew up with primarily only one parent in her life… Me. If I can say anything positive about myself it would be that I love being a parent, but the reality is that I’m an average dad at best and a horrible mom.

Experiences for her have been tenuous over the years and genetics have certainly blessed her with some of the more creative challenges seen in both of her parents– depression, anxiety, wry sense of humor, a clear love of the macabre and most things horrific, and an oppositional behavior towards authority (which in hindsight, I may have nurtured more than I should have).

And yet, she is amazingly loving and patient with children. She’s happy to help and quick to console others who need it. She’s currently in a goth/emo/juggalo phase, and I’ve walked in the mall with her while a hundred other shoppers watch her with ridicule and distaste. Then watch as she will be the only one to pick up a women’s wallet, chase her down the walkway, call her “ma’am”, and return it with the most honest smile I’ve ever seen on a teenager expecting nothing in return. My pride grows to the point of bursting.

About a year ago her anxiety had peaked into near delusional episodes where in several situations she needed to be hospitalized. Her sudden fits of anger and frustration has truly turned into some frightening moments at home and at school. She currently attends an alternative school that deals with children with behavioral problems, a counselor she sees once a week, a therapist that helps with medication and a laundry list of IEP’s and goal setting sessions (of which I am greatly thankful for). Her diagnosis includes PTSD, anxiety, ADHD, bi-polar, and/or OPP. Her experiences included deaths in the family (her uncle and grandparents) drug abuse in the family with verbal and physical abuse (thankfully, it wasn’t prolonged exposure).

Now things have become a creative process. She is now receiving SSI payments which helps enormously in the household allowing me to stay home (which will have to change soon because between that and my significant other, we’re barely able to keep our head above water). Prior to the SSI I’ve had to lose two full-time jobs in order to leave and tend to her in midst of her anxiety episodes. Which leads me to some low points, I went to college to find a good job… Or at least something I can enjoy (it’s a history degree, good jobs are arguable for history degrees). I’m a house dad and happy to do so if we were only a bit more financially secure. In the mean time I’m trying to do things to earn cash at home but failing pretty miserably. I spend way too much time obsessed over the phone, dreading the next call from school telling me that my daughter is out of control, authorities have been called and she’s going to the hospital. My stress is over the top making me feel like I’ve worked an eighty hour shift. It’s exhausting…

I love my daughter, she’s a good kid. I just hope I’m a good enough dad to keep her together long enough for her to manage herself on her own.

Reading the Operating manual

IMG047

I’m a gamer at heart.  Card games, board games, role playing games, etc. etc…

Unfotunately– lately– most of my friends have been spread to the four corners of the planet.  So I’ve been left reading rules for newly acquired games more often than ever playing any of them.

It occurs to me that I might have a problem…  perhaps I’m addicted to reading rulebooks!  It’s ironically like reading operating manuals for equipment that either you don’t own or is inoperable.

There are a number of blogs and videos of people that set up and play boardgames by themselves.  But I find that practice profoundly depressing since the experience of gaming should be a group experience.  It grows stories and memories.  Memories that consist of solo play seems simply hollow and unsatisfying.

Granted, there is an amount of frustration involved with not being able to operate something you’ve read extensively about and yet I can’t stop reading them.  So much in fact that I tend to read pdf’s of a variety of games I don’t own.

The reality of things could be simple enough.  I’m Bored…  And the hobby I’ve chosen is rendered impotent due to a lack of players.

Stupid digital age.

Giving to charity

I ran across an article from The Atlantic that was posted in 2013 who talked about the percentages of charity given by different economic classes of people within the United States. It was no surprise to me that those of us who live in an upper class bracket tend to give more to the Arts and Education while those of us of a lower economic bracket tend to give more to more social-service related organizations (this was researched in 2012, dated I know but the results still apply today).

The surprising part was that overall (in respect to the wages earned by each class) Poverty level individuals give more to charity than those who earn over $100,000 a year. I guess that sends a message to me about what is important to who. The arts and Education is certainly important and no one (especially me) would find a good argument otherwise. I guess I just assumed the basic needs of everyone man woman and child would take precedence over such things.

What am I doing here

I was at an interview recently where I was asked a very simple question,

“Tell me about yourself.”…  And I didn’t know how to answer.  I couldn’t wrap my head around what he wanted to hear from me.  Was I suppose to tell him about how I came to live in this city in which I was living?  Was I suppose to tell him about all the professional experiences that would lead to my success at this company?  Was I suppose to tell him the emotional baggage a guy like me tends to carry in order to get done what needs to get done?

…  I wasn’t saying anything at all…  I just stared at him for the longest time arguing in my head as to what I was supposed to tell him and what I wanted to tell him…

And then I just said what I needed to say instead.

“I’m a factory jockey by trade…  I’ve worked them for over twenty years but I never felt comfortable doing it.  I suppose no one really does.  Co-workers used to think I should’ve gone to college because I was reading books all the time– Classics and rhetoric mostly.  The conversation around the cafeteria table on breaks were usually a barrage of whining about life…  IF ONLY I COULD AFFORD COLLEGE, everyone would say and I would nod and drink my coffee.  Until finally I spoke up and told them that the only reason we didn’t quit our jobs and go to college was because we were lazy and it was easier to whine than to do.”

by this time I had stood in this man’s little office and began to pace.  I could see by the look in his eyes that he was taken aback, maybe a little afraid that I was cracking altogether so I smiled at him, but that might have made things worse so I looked down at the beaten brown carpet and continued…

“So I quit…  I was a single dad with a four-year-old daughter at home who didn’t know it yet but was heavily dependent on me paying the bills and buying groceries–but I quit all the same.  Terrified and riding high on adrenaline I spent the next month on unemployment and and focusing on getting my GED.”

I hate telling people that I didn’t graduate from high school.  It wasn’t because of my intelligence but rather my lack of interest in doing anything with my life than the bare minimum.

“That problem was quickly remedied.  For what I had put off for over a decade, I had breezed through in one month.  and by that fall I had enrolled in community college…  And I had no idea what I was doing.”

Now the man behind the desk was trying to interrupt me but by then I was in no mood for stopping so I held my hand  up in the air as if I was stopping traffic and nodded at him reassuringly, letting him know that by now I knew how insane I must have looked but was letting him know that I intended in finishing my answer and would leave peacefully.

“I figured I would teach because the only reason I wanted to go to college was to study History and English and Psychology and Literature and Sociology and Rhetoric and…  and… and…

I took every loan they offered and every grant they gave because that was the only way to keep a roof over our head and food on our tables.  When that wasn’t enough I crawled to the county for assistance and signed up for MFIP and MA and a slew of other acronyms that would help me stay in school.  I used the system to it’s fullest with the Machiavellian anti-hero sentiment that most middle classed people would scrutinized…  A ward of the state, sucking off the states tit.

I picked up odd jobs and worked at the local Walmart while going to school full time.  I started tutoring on the side and took MUCH MORE than the average load.  I took classes that interested me more than the classes that filled a criteria and two years later I received nearly 200 credits for an Associates degree that only required 120 credits.  My GPA was 3.5 and my daughter was proud of me.  But I wasn’t done…  I needed a Bachelors so I worked for three months at what I did the best, more factory work.  I busted ass at 3m in their temp position and enrolled in the nearest state college to receive my teaching degree (really, what else do you do with the education I was getting?)

By that next fall I was in class again, moving my daughter and myself away from the support I was receiving from my loving family and into a city that neither of us were used to.  I motored straight for a Bachelors in Social Science and Education…”

Throughout all of this I was amazed with how I wasn’t ushered out the door by security, or how I was able to just keep talking and talking while this man behind the desk sat quietly and watched.  It was enough incentive to keep going.

“I repeated the same thing… received support from the county and medical from the state.  Worked silly little jobs and kept tutoring in order to pay the bills.”  (I never mentioned where the mother of my child was or why I never received child support, I figured one drama at a time please)

“During the second to the last semester in which I would receive my degree things started to fall apart.  An internship was needed to gain my degree but I still didn’t feel like I knew enough to actually teach in school.  My GPA was still above a 3.4, I passed all my classes but I felt like I was a fraud in the career I had chosen.  I spent hours talking to my advisers and professors in which all agreed I was doing fine but I couldn’t see it.  Than anxiety would set in and problems with my daughter at school began so even though I was uncomfortable being a confident responsible adult in an educational environment, I was still in a public school setting three or four times a week playing a concerned parent to a daughter who was showing some problematic behaviors in class… Behaviors that reminded me a lot of myself when I was younger.  I started to lose faith in my decision and paid less attention in my classes.  Often I would have to leave and pick my daughter up from school and would rely on those excuses in order not to do my own work.  At the end it was obvious that I was no longer interested in teaching…  or maybe I was just to scared to do it.

So I downshifted and received a Bachelors in History.  Money was scarce and the process of putting a roof over my head was getting difficult.  The county and the state, who had put faith in my ability, had to settle with a B.A. and was not very interested in helping me any further.  I left school without attending any graduation for either of the degrees I had earned and felt like I had achieved nothing…

That’s what brought me here.  And I realize why that question is so hard now because I don’t know where HERE is anymore…  I’m lost and mostly I’m terrified.

Terrified that I can’t keep this momentum up and provide for my daughter, who is now diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder and may never be able to cope with life in a way that’s meaningful or satisfying to the rest of us.  Terrified that I have made a series of decisions in which I will be lead further and further into debt and disappointment.  Terrified that I will never get to use any of the training received at college because I can’t seem to break this strange wall of indecision and self loathing.

That’s where I am–  That’s what brought me here.”

The man behind the desk simply nodded and sighed.

“Thank you for coming… We’ll be in touch.”

Don’t bother reading this…

Because it’s insane to think that our constant ranting about the daily irritations in your life would be interesting enough for someone else to enjoy reading. And yet blogs and tweets have now become the incessant national past time. Phones may as well be surgically attached, making it easier to photo bomb while driving or tweet complaints that you mis-bagged the four bags of groceries you’re carrying into your house. You can get instant gratification for the look of a dress or an outfit before ever stepping out in public.

In which case, what’s the point of leaving your house in the first place.

We reach out to total strangers across oceans to justify that we’re are reaching out to the world while simultaneously ignoring our neighbors and the thousands of possible friends at the local coffee shop, grocery store or street corner.

We’ve accomplished the task of isolating ourselves in this egotistical bubble of technology disguised as a global community… But for the most part we’ve only managed to sterilize our personality to the most mundane acts, package it and present it with little to no flavor. The ultimate safety net for our lives…

Of which I am equally guilty.

Jack of Trades, full time slacker, indecisive… kinda a mess

In consideration of my family I’m afflicted with the worst of addictions.  Unfortunately, it’s progressively worse in this era, one in which children by the age of seven need to know what they are going to be for the remainder of their lives.  Worse even still, in an era where children of seven are completely capable of making that decision and following through.  

I’m hesitant to suggest that a misfit like myself is misplaced here.  It’s not that I’m lazy– well, not entirely at least.  It’s only that I have a problem settling into a career.  I want one though– I want a specialty and a passion that pushes me onward.  I’d like to get paid for doing something that inspires me, buy a house and a car, raise a family and worry about insurance and fickly little things in life.   

But I can’t commit…  Can’t decide what to do.  I have a degree in History, and was only short a bachelors in social science by a single internship.  You see, I didn’t want to teach… I hated High School.

I imagine if I had a choice I would like to do social-historical research.  I’m fairly well versed in Midwestern history.  Beyond that, I’m partial with being a stay at home dad.  

That’s sounds like a worthy cause.