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Do you ever feel like you're fighting against yourself? As if you're working against instinct and habit?
There’s a part of being human that seeks comfort. Ease. Routine. Whether that routine is nose to the grindstone work, hitting the gym 4 hours a day, or just watching a lot of TV while trying to decide which celebrity each new Cheeto that you pull out of the bag most resembles, there’s something that's almost soothing about being able to maintain your own rituals.
A fact that becomes even more apparent when those same rituals get blocked, or broken.
I seriously doubt that I actually need two cups of coffee every morning. But heaven fucking help you if you're in my way on a day that for whatever reason I only end up having one. It's almost as if the act of having that coffee -- of drinking from my blue travel mug slowly through the first cup, of going down to the coffeemaker for a refill before answering morning email and surfing around the web while I ramp up to my necessary workday speed is more important than the liquid or the caffeine itself.

The ritual, the reaffirmation that I'm in control of this one little corner of my day -- I think that's the important thing.
My cat doesn't need to circle around before she curls up for a nap. But she does, every time.
I think in certain ways our routines strengthen us. Create identities that don't necessarily broadcast to others around us as much as they help set unwritten priorities for ourselves. I don't know if that makes total sense, but what I mean is that there has to be a reason why I like one side of the couch better than the other -- why I'm picky about what kinds of headphones I like to wear, or why I still have a "side of the bed" even though I've lived alone for years.
All these things, in their own little way somehow make us happy.
They can't fix a bad mood, but when they don't work right they can certainly contribute to one. What's worse, it's usually the kinds of things that don't matter to anyone else -- which means they're more likely to screw them up while seeking the happiness that can be found from sticking to their own routines. Otherwise there'd be no reason for whoever the a-hole in the cafeteria was that switched from plastic flatware to sporks to do such a thing. I mean, there's no way they did that JUST to piss me off, it's just that in their quest to save space/cost/sanity they inadvertently crossed one of my invisible lines and left me with this bullshit excuse for a utensil that basically shatters into pieces if you can ever actually pierce into something to try and pick it up.

At the same time, there's a danger in comfort. An instinct that goes somewhere beyond picking hunting grounds that bigger predators don't frequent that starts to more resemble hiding in your cave until you're absolutely certain it's safe to go outside and scavenge for leftovers.
I think it's probably easy to call it security -- but I suspect it's a lot deeper than that.
Think about it for a second -- what's the one theme that always seems to repeat itself whenever you watch a nature show? The hunters always seek out the sick, the young, or the very old. The easy kill. Not that a full-grown hungry lioness or cheetah couldn’t take out a fully grown healthy gazelle if they wanted to, but when you get right down to it -- when lunchtime rolls around and you've got hungry mouths to feed at home -- do you go out seeking the strongest happy meal, or do you just stop at the first slow moving golden arches you come across?

I used to raise this Ball Python. Originally it was my brothers, but when he went to college they wouldn't let him have it in his dorm -- so it ended up with me. I'd had my share of pet snakes when I was younger, so I liked having it around -- but every now and then when I'd toss a particularly feisty mouse or a rat into the cage that didn't go down with the first shot he'd just end up ignoring it.

      That snake only got fed once every two weeks.
If you think about it a certain way -- that animal only got to be a python twice a month. You'd think he'd jump at the chance to hunt and kill prey whenever it presented itself. That every day between feedings he'd be amping up waiting for that moment. But more than once I'd end up with some Mike Tyson feeder mouse from the pet store and after a few rounds the snake would just crawl back into the corner and basically take a pass on the whole thing.
For a while I started to suspect that I'd ended up with a retarded snake.
But when you think about it -- if you're a domesticated animal who's come to expect a meal every few weeks, what's your motivation for going 10 rounds with a mouse on steroids, especially if you know that soon enough another one's gonna drop out of the sky?
I think we're all fighters to a degree, but I also think that part of natural instinct is picking your battles.
Human existence, especially American Human existence offers an abundance of luxuries. We don't have to hunt for food. We're more wired into information and entertainment gathering than we are into sustenance, because that parts become almost automatic. Even for the poor and hungry in our society, there are options (certainly when compared to the choices others have they're less desirable -- but it's not like there isn't any food around, like in other parts of the world).

I would argue that there are an equal amount of stresses and pressures (financial, emotional, etc) that we face, many that we impose upon ourselves -- but that pull to stay in your caves or wait until the next mouse drops into the cage is a hard one to resist, especially when you know there's no imminent threat of predators or unexpected danger lurking around every corner.
So we fall into routines. We give ourselves to habits.
It's not always a bad thing, but it seems like there's always a precipice. Dangers to the drug, risks no safety harness can ever offset. The dividing line more often than not seems to be the relative discipline or amount of restraint we bring to the table with us. How much of a comfort zone we feel that we need. How much of those same comfort zones we're willing to step outside in search of a thrill, a high, an affirmation, or a change.

I feel like I've been fighting myself lately. Challenging many (although certainly not all) of my ivory towers. Looking at the mirror and seeing what I don't like, but then looking again not only to try and find out why I dislike those traits, but how I let them get this far. What the trap that I keep setting for myself is.
My safety nets.
When I was a kid I used to believe that if a super villain ever attacked the world, the first guy I would call to help fight him is David Copperfield. David Copperfield could make things disappear. He could float. Who could beat that? -- Only to find out that much like double-jointed Houdini and his secret hidden keys, Copperfield was just an exceptionally slick bullshit artist. That it was all just an elaborate illusion that I wanted to believe in enough that I was willing to suspend my disbelief whenever he came on TV.
Weight Loss Dan is like that.
Get Out of Debt Dan is like that.
Emo Dan is all about that noise.
I'll work out five times a week, but I'm not giving up meat-lovers pizza. I'll put together a budget to organize my finances, but it's going to include an allowance for CD's and fast food. I'll break free of the relationships and habits that are bad for my soul, but I'll always have a little more of my foot still in the doorway than I probably should.
Look at the pretty girl spinning the box around and you won't see me slipping through the trap door in the back.
And I'm not talking about you out there in the rest of the world. I'm talking about me. The me that crosses it's arms and wants to hear just how great and different this new weight loss plan is going to be than the last one, so I can decide just how long it's gonna be before we can eat chiliburgers again.
Because I’ll come back.
..I always do.
I don’t exactly know what’s different (which is a large part of why I’m worried that it’s actually not) – but I feel like I’m finally starting to break that cycle. Examine the places that I let myself down. Realize the consequences it can bring, not only to me –- but to the people I care about.
I’m selfish. I’ve known that for a long time now.
But at the same time I hate confrontation. I shy away from conflict. As a result, I end up conceding a lot. Sometimes it’s a good plan of action. Despite the fact that it has had a negative effect on me in several ways, I actually have a lot of faith in the power of compromise.

I think sometimes you can solve problems by splitting the baby. That there are ways that thesis and antithesis can lead to synthesis.

But when selfish people concede, they get bitter. They resent. They believe in some screwed up perception that the mere act of choosing not to engage in pointless conflict is somehow honorable, and that choosing that path will eventually be rewarded with some level of respect (or self-respect, if the one you’re always stepping aside for is yourself) – and when that doesn’t happen, they get pissed off.
Nice guys who can’t find dates end up hating women who fall for bad boys.
Hard workers get fed up with people who want everything done for them.
Stock traders feel no sympathy for families that can’t afford their mortgages.
As a result, I’m starting to realize the reason that I’m overweight is that I don’t like fighting against my eating habits. The reason that I’m continually broke is that it’s easier than not having 200 channels of TV to choose from. I’ve reached a point where it appears that many of the things that make me happy (my escapes) are feeding the very same things that make me unhappy – the things I’m escaping from.

So in the end what I’m sorta left with is this classic "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" type quandary where in order for me to properly step up and start taking control of the things that I’ve empowered as roadblocks, I’ve got to take a stand and fight. Fight against the habits and instincts that I’ve built around my comfort zones. Fight against the stigmas I attach to the things I’m reduced to in order to try and accomplish those goals.
In other words I’ve got to learn to kinda like salad -- and not just force myself to
eat it for six weeks while bitching that it's the antichrist come to rest in my bowl.
But more than that -- I’ve got to be able to look in the mirror deeper than maybe I have been the last few years. Wipe away the steam from whatever hot water I’ve been standing under in the hopes of not hearing a phone ring or being able to answer whatever door it is that’s being knocked on and really look at that person staring back at me.
Not all of what I've seen looking back is good.
But who among us can say that's all they really are?
I've got to find a new way to look at that face. Find a way not to be pissed at it for the things he’s screwed up – but instead try to find ways to instill in him the discipline to make good on the improvements he’s trying to make.
Which is not an easy proposition when you’ve known a guy for 30-plus years.
One thing I’m well aware of is that when I get caught in one of my self-loathing loops, people get tired of it. My act gets old pretty quick if I’m not careful. My true friends will remain, and family will always be – but people with lives and problems of their own (which are both subsets that those true friends and relatives fit nicely into) can’t and perhaps most importantly won’t always hang around until you figure your shit out.

I suspect there is a time in your life when losing people is a lesson. Bad decisions happen. Wrong turns are inevitable, and consequences follow. It’s an odd place to find a reminder -- but I was browsing Facebook the other day (I finally signed up for it a week or so back), recognizing names but not always seeing the same faces -- realizing that although you never can really hold on to everybody – I didn’t really have to lose all of these people.
I really didn’t have to lose myself.

[Listening to:  Killing Joke - "Complications" ]

Comments

whatigotsofar said…
Is this your long-winded way of telling the world your sick of being a man when you feel like a woman trapped in a man's body?
Hex said…
WIGSF -- Actually it's my long winded way of saying while I like your dress, it would look much better on the floor of my apartment.

ps -- How's that bet coming along, Cochise?

(Come on, bro. You've read this blog long enough to know that this is part of the ride).
Satorical said…
So after three days of walking around town and buying healthy food, the fat guy rage came back in a big nasty way. It's bound up in moving stress (oh, the moving company left one of my bookshelves on the sidewalk? Ok.) and work stress (the draft is STILL not done), but the excuses have to fall away at some point. These enjoyments could mean more if I earned them.

Plus, there are hotties EVERYWHERE in this joint. Must reclaim Thin Satorical.

So, we all fight the same fight, we all are in the same war, we all are in the same revolution, got to know what you're fighting for...
Werdna said…
We all fight the same fight...