Tag Archives: competition

You don’t have to be awesome, or win

25 May

4:16 pm

Yes, that’s right, folks!  At 43, soon to be 44 next month, I have at last made the realization that, nope, you don’t have to be awesome, and you don’t have to win.

You don’t have to do anything amazing, or challenging even; you don’t have to do it perfectly, or better than someone else; you don’t have to win any prizes.

Life goes on; life will go on, whether you publish a book, or open a business, or make millions as a lawyer or doctor.  NONE of that really matters; what matters, I say, is the fact that you got to fall in love with a dog, and walk him–he laughing into your tears with his tongue–until you stopped crying and starting laughing with him.  Our boy is gone now, but he lives on in my mind; and most days, that’s the only thing that feels like it matters to me.  And, I’m not sure if I am supposed to feel liberated by that or straight up SCARED to death that I am getting closer and closer to just not giving any fucks anymore!

There is so much consumerism here–buying and selling of things, of work, of jobs, of people, of relationships, of experiences–in America.  Maybe it really is everywhere, but, man, does there seem to be a desire here, almost a frenzied one, to acquire experiences.  I’m in on it, too, of course, and as frenzied as the next person–and enthusiastically so most days!  Yet, I try to remind myself of the existence of my higher power, the higher things, the lessening and loosening and lessons of sobriety.  Life is about the wind, the breath being taken away; the letting go.  Sometimes I do feel…estranged, I guess, in a “land of plenty” where there is never enough, and in some cases, feels like nothing.

I am trying to write these days, and all the usual bullshit comes up; somehow, though, I had this thought the other day that it just doesn’t matter–for real.  It’s a thought that I’ve tried believing before, and I got to a certain level and then you know, went back to being my normal competitive, hard-on-myself self.  Yet, the other day, I just thought, you know, you’re going on 44, you don’t have to win anymore.  You don’t have to get into a good school (did it, twice), be the best in that school (failed at that, but I’m sure I tried and tried), do this and that and the other (did it all, in search of “growth” and “challenge”); you don’t have to get another degree and even if you do, you don’t have to do well in the program!  You don’t have to DO anything or BE anyone except…yourself.  A person who will maybe be loved and maybe be forgotten; that is life, and that is what we fight for, and against, it seems, every single day.

At this, I drank.  I drank so much trying to be and do and achieve and win–and also, to NOT be and do and achieve and win.  Now, I don’t want to drink at this; I have accepted that this is how I feel sometimes, and what I think, and well, maybe the reality that we all have to face now and again in this lifetime.

It’s so hard not being hard on myself; it’s so hard for all of us, I assume, to not be hard on ourselves.  And, I would venture to say that, even IF someone tells you, Oh, DDG, don’t be so hard on yourself; in the back of their mind, they’re thinking and plotting and planning because there seems to be so very little example here (I’ll just call this world USA, Inc.) of actually choosing to not do, to not achieve, to not regard the world and your place in it as part of a game whose very existence hinges on your winning.

I’m not sure I know anyone who has completely said, fuck it, and decided to do away with the need for validation, by self or others.  I am not there yet, but there is a voice inside me that is screaming, quietly, DDG, it does not matter what you do, just be.  Just breathe.  You can try stuff, and do stuff; and trying it is good enough; doing it is good enough.  There are no prizes, and there is no winning, and when you die, your name and your achievements will not really be remembered as much as who you were, and what your presence meant to people.  So, just be.

Ahh–if ONLY I could practice this now-ness all the time, and not for about three minutes a day!

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Recovery is as competitive as Alcoholism; don’t play into it

12 Jul

1:33 pm

So much science news. So many scientists, and science journalists, all vying for that same small slice of the pie. It might even come a close second to “addiction and recovery”–all the blogs, the books, the memoirs, the “solutions.”

So much noise. Mind officially blown. No fucking wonder I drank.

Is it just me, or are we totally off track on WHAT causes addiction and WHY? It’s not always about acute trauma.

Competition. Ego-worship. Winning and me, me and winning. Just because you get sober and “win” a newfound grace, doesn’t mean you’re out of the matrix. It seems apparent to me when I see just how many people are still seeking to acquire things, places, trips, experiences, states of being–after they get sober. I mean, working the steps is a form of mastery, and isn’t that striving for mastery a form of ego enhancement? It’s like getting an A+ on your homework assignment; are you doing it for you, and more importantly, what does it allow you to acquire? The ego remains. In my HUMBLE (and irritated) opinion, unless we address this, which unfortunately seems to thread through every area and endeavor, whether “altruistic” or not and whether recovery-related or not–and stop feeding into it–true healing is never going to be possible.

I sense that recovery, for many people, is as competitive as anything else. And, I see a society ideal–ours–of competition, of winning, of having and acquiring more than others as being one large root of dis-ease. I’m barely able to, but when I extract my own self from this reality that I’ve been socialized to think is OK, well, it’s a bitter smack in the face.

I almost want (need) to withdraw from the noise, and all the shaming and blaming and theories; all the pathologizing of human nature–in order to maintain my sobriety. I get angry, and I get sad, and I get jealous. Why do we pathologize these things in “recovery?” More importantly, why do I get the sense that there are so many people looking to acquire the opposite of these things?

Example: Facebook. To me, Facebook seems to feed off our worst–but innate–human traits: the tendency to compare, the tendency to want to have what others have in order to acquire a sense of completeness, or to feel good about ourselves. To feel SAFE. The fact that membership on the ‘Book is so prevalent illustrates how pervasive these tendencies actually are.

Another example: To hustle to publish a piece before (or instead of) someone else? To me, that’s also about fear: if you get the story, you get to subdue that fear of “losing,” and you get to build your ego. What if there was no byline, would you still write the piece?

Gah. I’m either going to have to accept that I’m just not that competitive, or, learn how to deal with my competitive nature better. Get off Facebook. Restrict the “recovery” work. Focus on what interests me in the science news, but don’t invest more than a disposable amount of self-validation from this work. At the end of the day, I am happiest–most sure of my growing sense of peace in the cosmos (the order of things, my own life and death, literally)–when I am not thinking about either my defects or my strengths. Neither matter. What matters is that I am here, for however long, and there is nothing to gain, no one to beat, no ego or defect to ponder, no right recovery to make.

Another mass shooting. What is wrong with this picture?

15 Dec

12:15 pm

Yeah, it’s a little fuzzy, n’est-ce pas?

I won’t ramble for long, but here’s my take.

Here, in “USA, Inc.”, we have issues. We glorify violence, and honor competition. We promote rampant consumerism. This leads to alienation and isolation, anxiety and depression, to name JUST A FEW. It sort of makes you want to drink. Or, shoot people. I’m not being in any way ironic.

I have NO idea (mainly because the mainstream media chooses not to delve into the mental health issue since it makes a less compelling story than, let’s say, “evil-doings,” but I digress) what was going on inside the head of the shooter, but let me tell you something: there was a point–more than one, honestly–during my middle and high school years that were, actually, low enough to make me contemplate killing of beings, namely myself. The self-loathing and anger that resulted from my feeling ostracized/ridiculed at school for being a good student; for being from a family who weren’t, to be frank, hicks; for simply being creative/artistic (let’s not even go into sexual preferences and/or orientation)–it led me to binge eat and then, binge drink. I couldn’t deal, and most of the time, I didn’t know HOW to deal aside from writing and dancing my emotions out. Unfortunately, I was too inhibited to dance in front of others. Fortunately, I clung to my belief in my grades as my ticket out, as well as my writing–my life raft.

I don’t know what’s going on, really, with today’s kids, but by the time I got to my junior year of college, I had already gone through several major episodes of depression, been through the emotional mindfuck that is bulimia, and likely harbored some serious sociopathic leanings that never materialized, due to simply internalizing my hatred for the people who hated me (or so I thought). I was SO overwhelmed by a sense of “there is something seriously wrong with this place” that I HAD to escape. And I did, to France. Anything to get me away from the billboards, the commercials, the emptiness I felt at having everything and having nothing (and I came from a lower middle class family!). I felt suffocated by what I still see to be the ills of our society, which have NOTHING, really, to do with the “freedom” to own guns (there’s a great article in The New Yorker on the history of the first amendment’s “right to bear arms” clause):

1. Consumerism. The idea that things, instead of experiences, people, and places, will make you happy and/or content; that happiness and contentment, like EVERYTHING worth having, can be had by anything but hard work–attained over a period of years, if not an entire lifetime.
2. Glorification of violence. We can see it in everything from our movies to our wars, this “we’re-gonna-kick-your-head-in-cuz-we-can” mentality. (When I volunteered clearing rubble in [beautiful island] after the [natural disaster], the Brits and Aussies nicknamed the heaviest sledgehammer “‘Merica” because it could “smash a lot of shit and leave a mess behind.”)
3. Glorification of competition, egotism, greed, etc. Why aren’t more “feminine” ideologies instilled in us throughout our lives, like cooperation, conciliation, nonviolent conflict resolution? I guess I’m generalizing here, but how many of you would argue against the fact that most (all?) of these mass shootings have been perpetrated my men, and wars are declared mainly (exclusively?) by male leaders?

I wish it was different, but when I left “USA, Inc.” in 1994 for Tours and then Paris, France, I figuratively never looked back. Now, I’m living in [beautiful island], which I might consider a second-world country but would certainly agree that it’s NOT the mainland–and I feel like I can breathe, like I might never return to “that place.”

Anyhoo…how does this pertain to drinking? Well, all I can say is, I’ve never experienced this kind of grief, so I have no idea what I would do. BUT, I hope that I would not pick up. I mean, drinking almost seems pointless in situations like this; which, in a sense, is a testament to its futility in the face of confronting the things life throws our way.

I wish peace to all the families involved in this shiteous crime. That is all.

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