Category Archives: Philosophy

Sad Songs; they say so much

I like sad songs.  Once could almost say I collect them.  They’re comfortable; they feel like a part of me.  The more primal and raw the emotion in the singers voice the better.  Tonight a collected a new favorite.  I’ll link it at the end of the post.

I sometimes think that my natural state is sad.  I take antidepressants and maintain a (mostly) cheerful attitude for those around me.  No one likes to deal with a sad man.  But when I can bury myself in a sad song, lose myself to it, it feels like home.

Do not misunderstand me, I have a great life.  I have a wonderful wife and child that both make me very happy.  I am surrounded by a loving family and amazing friends.  I don’t have to “act” happy around them; it comes naturally around them.  Even that honest happiness, though, is exhausting.  That joy doesn’t feel like my ground state, it requires excitation (if you’ll excuse the chemistry analogy).  “Normal”, if there is such a thing, is sad.

Some people think that sounds awful, I’m sure.  I don’t.  I’m okay with being sad.  Most people, my wife included I’m sure, don’t understand that.  I feel creative and alive when I’m sad.  As an example, since I started focusing on the people who make me happy, I’ve quit writing creatively.  I miss that part of me, but it was something I gave up in order to keep those I care about.

Some days I feel like my happy life is a fleeting thing that will be stripped from me.  Almost like some plot arch.  I wrote, I lost writing and gained family and friends and happiness, then I lose it all and go on to write some special thing that solves a plot dilemma or something.  I don’t know.  It’s a half formed thought.  I don’t know how to fully put it in to words.  Just that I feel that at some point I will lose it all.  Maybe that’s the sad songs speaking, though.

Anyways, as promised, my new favorite sad song:  Sound of Silence by Disturbed

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Filed under Depression, life, Philosophy, Writing

My father is dying.

We’ve known it for a while now.  I may have even posted about it before now, though I don’t recall for sure and can’t be buggered to go back and check.  However, things are getting worse and I fear this may be his last holiday season.

I’m not extremely close to my father, like my wife was with her mother who passed several years ago.  I don’t know if that makes it easier or harder, honestly.  I suppose I won’t truly know until my mother passes.  On the one hand, it’s not as big of a direct impact, if that makes any sense.  I don’t speak with my father nearly as often or see him as frequently.  I don’t rely as much on his counsel.  However, there’s the guilt.  I spent a lot of time angry at my dad.  He was unfaithful to my mother for a long time and when I found out, it hurt a lot.  Seeing the pain in my mother made me hate him for years.  They reconciled and I eventually forgave him, but those are now lost years.  Years I’ll never be able to get back.

There’s also the guilt of not being closer to him.  He is my father, after all.  My male role model.  Sure we’ve had our bonding times.  We used to go up and cut wood every weekend.  Those day trips with just the two of us were good.  He helped me as a cub scout and was so proud when I got my Arrow of Light.  He was always there when I needed him most.  But as I got older, we grew apart and stopped doing much of anything together.  I suppose that happens with teens.  It’s just hard to deal with now.

In the past few years, especially since I’ve been married, we’ve connected more.  I still don’t have the knowledge to talk with him about cars and guns, and forget about politics, but we’ve found other things we can connect over.  TV and Movies, knives, the zompocalypse and family.  It’s great to see the way he looks at my son.  It’s horrible to think that they’ll never really get to know each other.  I only hope that I can honor my father’s memory and be there for him as well my dad was for me.

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You only have 1 life to live, make it one you can be proud of

As an aside before I begin this post, I find it interesting how much environment effects mindset.  I composed most of this post while driving in to work this morning.  As soon as I got here, I jotted down some “sign posts” for myself on my notepad to remind me how I wanted it to flow.  I then sat down and started getting ready for my day of logical, analytical thinking.  As things got busy, I didn’t get around to writing the post until now.  I find that I am now having a hard time thinking the same way I was this morning.  The “creative juices” just aren’t flowing that way now.  Stuck in the overly logical mindset.

 

I have an advantage that many people sadly don’t have.  Well, I suppose that there are several if you analyze my life, but what I am referring to here is the fact that I had amazing teachers when I went to school.  I had at least one teacher every year I was in jr high and highschool that truly touched my life.  Which is not meant to discount some of the amazing teachers I had in elementary school.  I was truly blessed in the education dept.  One teacher, though, truly stands out.  Mr Ray was my creative writing teacher my Jr. year and my English teacher and adviser for the Literary magazine I was editor of my Sr year.

Mr Ray was a jazz musician who had taken about a decade off between highschool and college to tour the states with other great jazz musicians such as Gene Harris.  Then he settled down and got married and started teaching.  The man was a wealth of real world information, not just booksmarts, and very supportive of peoples dreams and nurturing intelligence.  Not just classic intelligence but artistic and emotional intelligence as well.  So, when he gave me advice, I usually took it to heart.  At one point towards the end of my Sr year, he told me about what he called a Gentleman’s Journal.  Now, I can’t find any reference online to this concept.  Certainly not under that name, nor any other variations I could think of.  The basic idea of this Journal was for a man to keep notes of quotations he liked, philosophical thoughts and ideas that occurred to him and advice for future generations.  The way he told me about this concept was in telling me that he hoped I kept one and got it published so he could read it one day.

When he told me about that, I thought it was a neat idea and figured I might consider it.  I wasn’t aware at that point how much of an impact the man had on my life or the significance of how highly I regarded his advice.  Looking back on that day now, I’m deeply honored that he would be interested in reading my Gentleman’s Journal.  I haven’t really kept such a thing in a single consolidated location, but I certainly have all of this scattered about from throughout the years.  This blog as well as others.  My facebook account.  Journals and notebooks I have around my house.  That sort of thing.

What brings all this to mind to me again is actually a lyric from a song I heard on my way to work this morning.  It wasn’t a song I’d ever heard before, and I only caught a small snippet of it as I was cruising stations.  “You only have one life to live, ” and another line I heard but don’t remember.  This got me thinking about all the variations of that phrase I’ve heard, which got me wondering about people on their death beds.  You hear things to the effect of you mostly regret the things you didn’t do.  I wonder, though, if that’s generally true and what life lessons could be learned from truly plumbing the experience of people who have lived long full lives.  Which brought me to the concept of the gentleman’s journal that Mr Ray had told me about all those years ago.

Now, I’m hardly old enough to give deep, meaningful life advice, but my completion to that quote would be “make it one you can be proud of.”  Now, that’s going to have different meanings to different people, and I think that’s part of what makes it good advice.  Trying to apply static advice to the masses is like trying to put the same dip on all foods.  I love ranch, but I wouldn’t want it on my cheesecake!

Like anyone, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes.  Maybe more than, considering all that I’ve been blessed with.  However, I feel that our mistakes are a large part of who we are.  They teach us, mold us and define us in to who we are just as much(maybe more so) than our successes.  I have things I truly regret, but regret is part of who we are as well.  The important part is, in my opinion, that we regret the right things and learn from them.  That we take our mistakes and use them to help make us a better person.  We all have mistakes, but if you can make the most of them, then you can live a life to be proud of.

I don’t think I’m any kind of expert on life or how to live it.  My philosophies on the matter are a stew of other peoples advice I’ve been given over the years.  I think it turns out pretty good, but like with any food, taste is subjective.  I’m going to start compiling my Gentleman’s Journal.  I have no delusions that I could possibly get it published, but thanks to Mr Ray, I have the gumption to try.  So, I say to you: You have only have one life to live.  Are you making it one you can be proud of?

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Filed under life, Philosophy, School, Work, Writing

Music

Music has always been a big part of my life.  I’ve played music, studied music, written music, and of course, listened to a lot of music.  Something occurred to me today about music, though.  It’s something I think I’ve known intuitively but occurred to me consciously on my drive in to work today.

I was driving in, and a song came on the radio that I wasn’t familiar with.  It had kind of a catchy tune, but no vocals at the beginning.  But something was holding me back from really getting in to it.  Then the vocals kicked in and I recognized the band as one I liked, and it let me freely get in to the song, tapping my foot and bobbing my head like a fool.  I felt the ‘trust’ switch flip in my head.  We’ve all heard those songs that start of good, but then degrade in to a pile of audio offal.  You feel so let down.  I think it builds in a defense mechanism.  Unless you are consciously looking for new music, it’s hard to trust a new song to be be what it appears until you are a ways in to it unless you have some form assurance(a friend’s recommendation, a known artist, a good review, something).  It’s an interesting concept, and I think I’m going to start paying more attention to my reactions to new music.  See if I can’t let myself “warm up” to songs faster.

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31

I turn 31 in 7 days.  It’s a sobering thought.  I know for most people turning 30 is a big deal.  Maybe it’s because I prepared myself for exactly that, but turning 30 didn’t bother me.  As such, this is probably karmic payback, or the anxiety that I was able to suppress last year boiling up for me to deal with now.  Whatever the reason, here it is.

I don’t have any specific concerns about it.  I’m not afraid my wife won’t love me or that I’m old and becoming irrelevant.  I’m not too old to take care of my son or “past my prime”.  I’m still growing as a person, going to school and doing well at work.  Nothing specific for me to worry about, which kind of sucks because it means nothing specific to address and fix (there I go showing that male tendency to need to fix things).

Luckily I have a supportive wife.  She’s concerned for me and keeps track of how I’m doing (between cracks about sucking it up because she’s older than me).  I’m sure she’ll continue to be wonderful about it and make my birthday as amazing as she can.

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Gray Days

I suffer from depression, but I rarely feel depressed.  I talk to my doc about my rage, which surprises most people.  He says, though, that men frequently manifest depression as anger.  I’m a very laid back, friendly and easy going guy for the most part.  Off my meds, though, I get so angry I can barely control myself.  My first sting in anger management was in kindergarten, but it wasn’t until jr high that I was ever medicated.  As much as I hate relying on medication, it at least lets me be the person I really am, instead of consumed by anger.

While I rarely feel truly depressed, melancholy days are not uncommon.  I don’t know how often the average person feels melancholy, but it feels like I get those days more often than most.  I don’t mind them, though.  For lack of a better way to phrase it, they feel comfortable.  They seemed to be the norm during my teen years, and when they show up now it’s just very familiar.  It’s when I feel most like writing.  If they showed up more often, still, then I might have gone in to writing professionally.  Instead, as I’ve aged and they’ve tapered off, so has my writing, so that will not come to pass.  <shrug>

I think of these days as “gray days”.  They aren’t the black bleak depressing days, they’re just…. gray.  I like gray.  I tend to spend these days listening to a lot of music.  Mostly counting crows, though I also pull out a pretty eclectic collection of other music.  Mumford and Sons, Christina Peri, Pink, Blue October.  Oh man does Blue October hit the spot on those days.  It’s not uncommon for that man’s voice to bring me to verge of tears.

Today is a gray day.  I wish I could spend all day with a computer just focused on creating.  I guess that’s what it really is, not just writing, but creating; pouring forth emotion.  It’s just that writing is how I typically do that.  My wife hates these days because I tend to be overly touchy and cuddly.  Not that she doesn’t enjoy a good cuddle, but there’s a limit somewhere that these days don’t even notice as they blow past.

These days also make me miss living on the coast.  Seattle whether is just right for these days.  Grey clouds and rain, the brisk feel that permeates the air that close to the water.  Luckily, today is like that here, so that’s good (for me, anyways, my wife hates the rain).  It’s amazing how satisfying it feels when the weather matches your mood.

I swear I had a focus when I began this post, but whatever direction I was going for is long lost.

update – wow, 10 posts.  that’s a record for me blogging.  woot.

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Style

Men’s fashion is of some interest to me.  Being a man, I suppose it should be.  I’m fascinated by it, though I am not by nature a very fashionable man.  I would like to be but I have two primary obstacles to this: 1) I’m lazy and 2) I’m poor.  Okay, so I’m not “poor” but I can’t really afford to spend a lot of extra money on nicer clothes.  And the idea of tailored or custom clothing nearly gives me a heart attack.  Still, I read on fashion occasionally and try not to be a complete slob.  I want to go buy nicer clothes, I really do, and from time to time I do.  I’ve been trying to go a little nicer as I replace my current wardrobe.  I don’t have a real clear view of what I want from my own style, though which makes it harder.

My wife is somewhat of a barrier as well.  I can’t really blame her, though.  I have a bad habit of starting in to something and then not going all the way with it.  I am a king of unfinished projects and half-cocked ideas.  So, the idea of refreshing large portions of my wardrobe with more expensive clothes only to have me not take care of it or put any effort in to coordinating my outfits would just be a waste.  Also, she thinks I dress fine.  Perhaps I’m just too harsh on myself or have unrealistic images, but I don’t.  She’s the most important person for my appearance to appeal to, so I should be happy with that, but I’m not.  It’s probably a reflection of my own insecurity, but I want to look sharp.  I want to impress with my appearance.  I don’t have a body that impresses, so dressing well would be about my only means of doing so.

Regardless, I still like to read about style from time to time and perhaps that alone will influence the way I dress, maybe help in more subtle ways.  I’ll keep trying to improve my wardrobe a piece or two at a time.  If I’m extremely lucky, maybe I’ll even get a more concrete idea about what I’d like my style to be.  Wouldn’t that be a kicker?

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Filed under Marriage, Philosophy

A Very Bad Day

I’m in my early 30s and I’ve already had two heart attack scares.  My father has had a heart attack and came away from it well, for the most part, though definitely not as vigorous as before.  My father is very fit for his age.  Was still very active and energetic.  The heart attack sapped him of a lot of that.  He’s still active, still on the go, but he does it with much less vim than he used to.  His activity is always with more of a hint of caution that it was before.  Not that he was a reckless man to start with, but still the difference is notable.  He just seems much less lively since then.

I think, then, this is part of why I fear a heart attack so much.  As I said, I’ve had two scares.  The first was 5 or 6 years ago.  It was about a year after my father had his.  My wife rushed me to the emergency room where I was strapped in to all sorts of equipment and in the end, they diagnosed me with pleurisy.  An chronic inflammation in the lining of my lungs.  Annoying, painful, but not that serious.  The  second was just this last Saturday.

I started a new medication on Friday night.  Saturday I felt completely drained.  My wife, who has been taking this medication for about a year now, said it was normal and it should pass after a couple of days.  I took the second dose on Saturday night, and a few hours later, I awoke with an intense pain on the left side of my chest.  It cleared after a minute or so, so I laid down to go back to sleep and almost immediately upon falling asleep it hit me again.  This repeated a few more times before I finally woke my wife, who rushed me in to the ER.  A few hours and tests later, they decided my heart and lungs were fine, and after some research found that it fit the description of a bad reaction to the new med I was on.  Now, I had figured, going in, that this was the case.  My wife, though, mentioned heart attack, and that seems to be the most immediate response when you go in to the ER with left chest pain.  So between those, it put that fear in to me.

I don’t like living in fear.  I’m not afraid of dying, I’ve come close a few times and I’ve have come to grips with that sort of mortality.  Being not being able to live life by my own terms scares me.  I don’t think my father is afraid to die, either, but physically, he’s not able to do as much.  He just gets tired much easier.  I’ve seen his body begin to wear down; muscle giving way to flab, running out of breathe much more quickly.  That sort of thing.  His mind may still have the will, but his body doesn’t.  I’m afraid of that.  In essence, I guess, I’m afraid of aging.  Though many people my age are starting to complain about “getting old” I still think of myself as young.  I hope to always have that attitude, like my father did.  Now, though, he doesn’t.  I’m afraid that will happen to me, too.

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