The Sisyphus Solution

*DISCLAIMER* I’m not always about love and peace, sometimes I just need to vent.

The story of Sisyphus, is a story about a man destined to push a boulder up a hill, alone, until he reaches the top. And only once he has reached to top, will he be able to rest. But, alas, the boulder is too heavy and there is no way that Sisyphus has the strength to lift the giant rock.

Being a allegory for the lives we live, what does this mean? It means that life is pointless and anyone trying to find a meaning in it, is absurd. This is what Albert Camus, the man who wrote the essay called “The Myth of Sisyphus” thinks.

“Does the realization of the meaninglessness and absurdity of life necessarily require suicide?” asks Camus in his work.

He’s asking if life is meaningless then what is the point of living it. We spend all our lives preparing for tomorrow when each passing day brings us closer to death. This seems an absurd way to live, but how many people do you know who live this way? Like military ants, people religiously go to work day-in, day-out and only stop for a few weeks a year to go on vacation. They get married, buy houses, have some kids and this just perpetuates the absurdity of that kind of life.

People work their entire lives, watching the light at the end of the tunnel that is retirement, which makes no sense to me because isn’t it harder to enjoy everything in life when you are too tired to do so? Age is not on your side in that equation and plus, all you can do is hope to make it to retirement.

And again, i ask, what’s the point of living a life like that? Pushing an immovable boulder up and never ending hill, just to die in the end anyway, life, it seems, is one very long tragedy.  Or is it?

I spend a great deal of time thinking about people who legitimately want that kind of life.  They want to come home to their kids everyday, sit in their house, maybe make love to their wife, and sleep in their master bedroom and do it all over again the next day.

I think the reason I have a problem with this is that I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how people see these things as milestones in their life, that these are achievements.

Above all else, and believe me I don’t mean this in a condescending way, but i’m jealous of these kinds of people. These people who appear to be content pushing that boulder from now until enternity. I don’t see how getting married, having kids, buying a house, working my ass off for forty years, retiring to that home and then dying are things to aspire to. Sure, there are upsides, but the downsides to these things are just so much more.

Marriage: The only person who needs to care about how much I love them is the person i’m in love with. If she knows this, above all else, there is no need to get married. And, if she insists on getting married, then that’s someone i’d never marry in the first place.

Having Children: What’s the upside to having a child? No one can seem to tell me this. They say, “You’ll understand when you are a parent.” Uh, no I won’t, becasue I won’t be one. The way I see it, I don;t want to work my entire life because of another person. Maybe that’s selfish but my life will not be defines by the amount of money I make, because I don’t like working, and if I have a child, I have no choice but to work. And KIDS ARE EXPENSIVE. I don;t care about my legacy, or passing on my name as much as you don’t care about anyone elses legacy. The stories we leave behind are only important to the people in the stories.

Buying a house: I;m always told i’m throwing my money away renting. Why? I burry money into a house on a 25 year martgage for what? To leave something for my kids? Well we all now that’s out. So I have somewhere to retire? I’ll have to retire from something first. I don;t want to own anything that big or substantial, plus I hate doing yard work.

It just seems to me to be the life of a goldfish, endlessly circling the fishbowl. People and fish have the same memory too, fish have a 2 minute memory so they can always see something new in there small world. People have a 24 hour memory because they do the same thing everyday until they die.

Not me, I think it’s a really a question of how much freedom do I want. The aforementioned things are just more nails in a coffin that i’m not ready to get into.

I say fuck the boulder, i’m going for a beer.

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Shootin’ the tube: The Surfer’s Conundrum

Everybody I talk to seems to know exactly how they are. You can talk to anyone, about anything, and I promise within 10 minutes, most people wil start to tell you what kind of person they are. They will tell you about the kind of person they have become; the kind of person that they’ve have worked at to become.

“I’m a very _______ kind of person so…” a lot of people will say. They first exclaim the attribute and then follow it about how that attribute depicts there opinion on that matter that’s being discussed. People like to put thatemselves into categories like this, nd I’m guilty of it myself, but lately i’ve been meditating on this and I have some questions.

Do people actually know themselves as well as they think they do? I can only speak from my own experience (which, by the way, that the only thing anyone can do so it’s a redundant statement) and I usually have no idea what kind of person I am. I think I’m  good person, I hope I am, but how do I really know the attribute i’m trying to convey is actually comeing off that way? If someone says they are openminded, what they are really saying is that they think they are open minded, and as hard as you try to make people think you are open minded, invariabley, there will always be someone, somewhere that sees you as a close minded person.

Now, is how someone else precieves you what really matters? Yes. Because, if it didn’t then people wouldn’t be going around proclaiming the type of person they are, they would know they are. You are only the type of person that other people think you are, because ultimatly, how we interact with eachother is what makes us human in the first place.

Also, does saying you are a certian way make you that way or vice versa? I ask this because, for example, if I say i’m a caring person, that automatically puts that idea into someone’s head that I am indeed caring. I have no reason to lie about it, assumes the other person, so they beleieve you. So, know that i’ve said this, this challenges me to rise to what I have said. If i say I am one way, I should act that way.

Finally, how dangerous is it to tell people the kind of person you are? Once I tell someone I am a stringent person and I live decipline, to that person I am forever stuck in that boring niche. To that person, I will forever have to be orderly and proper, because that’s the type of person I told them I was.

I like to think of the phenomenon as a kind of endless wave. And you are surfing on it. To you the wave doesn’t change, the wave looks the same to you as you glide along the top over it, forever. But the wave does change, it’s made of hundreds of gallons of water that are always changing and never repeat, but again to the surfer, it doesn;t appear that way. This is an allegory for how people behave and who they think they are. The person you are always changes because of the experiences each of us go through. But it all looks the same to us, because it’s a very gradual change.

I think, for me, the best thing to do is to realize that the person I am will always change and try to fall into certian categories.

I’m just going to enjoy surfing.

Fuck.

It’s hard to stay positive. Any smelly hippie like me can tell you to act positive and treat people nicely, sure I can say a lot of things, but to live that way is another story all together. When you are down, it’s hard to look at the bright side. It’s hard when the things you look forward to are so ephemeral and meaningless, yet they make you get up in the morning.

For a few days I’ve been fighting off a flu that has kept me in a pretty shitty mood. I went to the store the other day to pick up some Vicks, because I like it, it makes me feel better when i’m sick. So, at 12:15 I drove to the drugstore, the only one in the city that i live in, to get some vapour rub, to make me feel better. Now, on the way there, I looked forward to this stuff, not because of the relief it will give me from my cold, but because of the relief it would give me from not getting what I want.

Really that’s what makes anyone unhappy, being denied. And recently I feel like i’ve been denied a lot of things that are simple to get. On the way to the store, I fantasizing about buying the small bottle of the opaque salve. The $5 in my pocket sat heavy on my thigh, waiting for it’s moment to be used, for it’s purpose.

Well, I drive up to the store and it’s closed. Shopper’s Drugmart, being a kind company, provided the closest 24-hour shoppers in the area. The closest one was an hour’s drive away from where I sat in my old truck.

Sitting in the parking lot of the mall that the Shoppers was attached to I felt like I was about to cry. Once again i’ve been denied. I sat in the dark in my truck for about 45 minutes contemplating my feeling on the matter.

How do I fix this? Is my life so deplorable that I get physicaly upset over a small bottle of medicine that really doesn’t work all that well in the first place? I’d like to think I’m above as something so materialistic, not to mention trivial.

Again, I pose the  question, how do I fix this?

First, i need to realize that being denied tis small item, in the grand scheme, has no meaning. If I hadn’t written this blog about it, I probably would have forgotten about it all together.

Secondly, I have to realize that the things that I have, won’t make me happy. Once again, I find myself analyzing the thing that actually do make me happy.

Thirdly, I made myself upset about this in the first place, I’m my own worst enemy here. I sat around all night and did nothing, when I could have gone at anytime to get the stuff, but I didn’t I sat and wallowed alone in pity for myself. It’s my fault I got there and they were closed. I knew they wouldn’t be open in the annals of my brain, but I ignored them. Secretly, from myself, I wanted to feel this way. I wanted to be upset. I wanted a reason to be angry, a reason to rain sulfer.

I think we are all a work-in-progress.

A Pleasant Paradox

“What’s wrong with you?” is what some people say to me when I tell them my goals in life. And ultimately, I only have two.

1. To be happy.

2.To not stop anyone else from being happy.

Now, i realize that one, quite possibly, could negate the other. Especially when dealing with relationships because really that all the second goal is about. A problem could arise if my happiness interferes with someone else obtaining there own happiness. For example, in  my relationship with my girlfriend, if I were to go to a foreign country for a year to teach, or study, this would make me happy. However, me being gone and out of her life for that long would make her unhappy. This is a paradox and I have to find away to defeat it.

This is a problem, but it’s also an alegory for everyday life. If talking to strangers makes me happy, then I should do it, but not at the expense of someone elses happiness. Like in the case of Penny, the New York Fries employee, that didn’t want to talk to me.

So how do I insure that my first goal doesn’t interfer with my second goal.  Well, firstly, I can’t, it’s impossible, everyday choices I make, somehow interfer with people that I’v never even met so it’s impossible for me to not effect someone else negatively from time to time.

Conversely, if i strive for not get in the way of someone elses’ wishes, my own happiness will probably suffer.

Now, the only way to get threw this without being selfish, or a pushover would be oto choose the lesser eveil, find the ultimates in each equation. If I go to Japan for a year, my girlfriend will be sad, but I might love it, i don’t know. But if i stay home, with here, I will be happy, with her and so will she. So the second option makes the most sense.

But, i do love sushi.

Teenage tactical stikes and the war on children

You know how you go through life and every now and then you come across someones elses dilemma and you wish you had such a dilemma so you could rise above, or simply fix the problem. No? let me explain.

Say your girlfriend has a a shitty boss, or a overbearing parent, and you feel that if only YOU were in there position, the problem wouldn’t be a problem, it would be dealt with. You would tell that boss where to go and how to get there or tell that parent to eat shit. I, and i don’t think i’m alone, thrive on these kinds of situations, but they never happen to me.

This is how i’ve always thought, until lately.

Lately, I’ve started a new job, just a summer job, teaching guitar at a local summer camp. I’ve never taught before in a class room type setting or to multiple students, so the job was very new to me but i figured I could do it.

And on my first day I got bitched right out of the gate. Kids wern’t listening, they were bored, they could tell I was new and they ate me alive. So, naturally I felt defeated and I really wanted to quit.

Now this is the type of situation I thrive on, or at least I thought I would thrive on. I am faced with a problem where I can either sink or swim. They type of situation I see countless people facing that I want to help with. The problem is that for the first 3 days of my teaching career I didn’t realize that I had such a situation.

That’s the key I think.

It’s very easy for me to be a third party and point out exactly what someone else needs to do to fix such a situation. It’s easy for a general to give an order, but something quit different for a soldier to pull the trigger. What i needed to do was step back and be the third party of my own situation. And, that’s what I did.

“What is really the problem here?” I asked myself about the task at hand.

“I feel unprepared.” is the conclusion I gave myself. And with this in mind, I set off to prepare yself several days in advance.

“I’m not confident.” is somehting else i confessed to myself. Well, i know how to play guitar and these little rabid creatures do not. You are the teacher and the adult, and they WILL respect that.

Now i;ve stepped back from the problem and implemented a plan. I have everything perfectly laid out and I shall not deviate. Problem solved right? Wrong.

Plans are great, but unless they are implemented, they are useless. So tomorrow, i go once again into the breach to see what the enemy throws at me. I shall pitch myself into battle with 26 14-year-olds and I shall teach them guitar, or the streets will run red with the blood of teenage smartasses.

This is my dilemma and I will rise above. For all those teachers who went on strike for a raise, for all those nerds who actually wanted to learn in school, for all the spitballs spat and all those dirty notes passed, these little basterds will learn something.

Or, i’ll die trying.

Positively negative – Perplexing Penny

The other day I was at New York Fries, and at the counter was a girl we’ll call Penny.

Now, you could tell penny hated her job. The art of slicing and frying potato was not one that thrilled or challenged her, and this is very understandable. So, it the spirit of trying to make someone’s day, I started to make conversation with Penny. Well, I tried to at least.

“That’ll be $6.78,” said Penny with half-lit eyes.

“That’s highway robbery!” I exclaimed sarcastically as I pulled out my wallet. I smiled at her and politely awaited her smile. Well, mon frere, that smile did not come.

“mmhmm” she mumbled and cocked her eyebrow.

I quickly got out my wallet and handed her a twenty dollar bill. “Ahh french fries is serious business around these parts,” I said and smiled again and again, Penny was not amused. With a few keystrokes and a few little beeps, she had punched the total into the machine and handed me back my change.

So now, Penny and I are in Limbo. I’ve paid, but my french fries were not done. They were still in the fryer, and there was no one else in line so he and I stood and either side of the counter politely, and desperately, trying not to make eye contact. A few second went by and I decided to try again.

“So, are you a student?” I asked.

“Nope.” Penny said.

“Right on.” I said.

And again, we are hit with a wall of silence.  The fryer bell finally went off after what felt like days and Penny took the basket out of the machine, shook it, and doused it with salt. After putting the frying into a cardboard cup, she handed them to me.

“Do you want some napkins?” Penny asked without looking at me.

My last chance to make this girl smile, here it goes.

“No, i’ll be plenty full after these fries, I don’t need dessert.” I say, and I wait, with bated breathe, for any sign of compassion, joy, or human emotion. If I were sitting down I would have been at the edge of my seat waiting for a positive response.

It was a lot like going whale watching. You wait and wait to see a whale, in my case a smile, until finally, there is a miraculous and beautiful moment when the whale’s back rises above the surface of the water and at the whale’s zenith a puff of mist shoots from the animal’s back as if the whale were saying “sup?”. But in my case I was waiting for that smile.

Now, just like people who pay to go whale watching, after all that anticipation, i saw nothing. Not a grin, not a slight upturn of the corners of her mouth, nothing.

Frustrated, i said, “Whatever you do, don’t smile, it’s bad for business,” and I started to take may leave.

The point of this is the illustrate how being positive isn’t always the answer. I know nothing about Penny, for all I know, her family could have been i mauled by bears that very morning.

The problem i have now is that invariably my positivity toward Penny quickly turned into making fun of her. I felt better by putting her down, by saying something that actually made her frown more. I made her bad day even worse.

What I should have done was sympathize. I should have recognized she was having a bad day and asked her bout it. Asked her if she hated working here, or did the mall just suck that that. I should have connected with her on a human level, instead of grinning at her like i was simple.

What I’ve learned today is that not everybody wants to be positive all the time and it’s pretentious of me to assume that do. Some people want sympathy, some want a listening ear and others just want to be left alone. What I should have done and what I will do from now on is address every situation and a basis to basis level. Like people themselves every situation is unique and cannot be blanketed by simply being positive. I have to recognize the needs of the people around me and act accordingly.

37,700,000 really wrong people.

Since I don’t have a job, I’ve needed to fill my days anyway that I can. I started this blog, I started excerising, I have even started widdling. Yeah widdling, with a hunk o’ wood and a knife. I figure by 2015 i’ll have my own chess set.

Also, I spend a lot of time scouring the internet searching for everything and nothing, just to fill the hours of the day. Well, today I figured I would look up some vegetarian recipes because i don’t know any and i’m getting sick of cheese pizza pockets. So, I opened google, and just for fun I types in the words “I am really” into the search bar. I was going to put “I am really hungry” but then I saw what one of the little pop ups had said.

If you are a frequent Google user like me, you know that when you start to type something into the search bar, the most frequently searched items, that match what your are typing, drop down from the bar so you may search a little easier. Beside each possible search inquiry are the number of times individual people have searched that specific question or topic.

If you type in “I like to ta” the first thing that wil pop up is “I like to take tape and tape my thumbs to my hands to see what it’s like to be a dinosaur” Do it, you’ll see it’s true and 13,400 people have also typed that sentence in.

Now, when I typed in “I am really” about 5 or 6 items popped up. Some said “I am really sad” or “I am really shy” which is depressing in itself, but what really struck me, what really made me feeel horrible was that 37,700,000 people have searched “I am really ugly”.

This is amazing. I know people have image problems, and even I am guilty of that (hence the excercise) but 37,700,000 people searched this option. And out of morbid curiosity i clicked and searched it.

There were a bunch f Yahoo question forums where people were asking for help on how to be prettier. Style and fashion techniques, along with pictures to prove the victims ugliness.

The sadest part? The sadest part was that all these people claiming to be ugly were mostly girls and all under the age of 18.

“Help! i am 15 and ugly!” one of the forums said.

“I am fat and ugly and I have no friends.” exclaimed one teenage girl on cosmogirl.com. It was submitted by ‘Girl age 17’

Who says these people are ugly? Well a lot of people blame the media for showing little girls how the should look. It’s been said millions of times that it’s not beauty that matters. But these seem to be empty words.

Everywhere you look are gorgeous people looking happy, on street signs, on tv and especially on the internet. It’s a bombardment that is relentless and unavoidable. And the problem isn’t that all the ‘pretty’ people are in the media, the problem is that kids are told that they have t be that way to get anywhere in life. It’s not the pretty people’s fault and it’s not the media’s fault, it’s the fault of the people who don’t give children a clear view of the world.

Teacher, parents, siblings, anyone who is in charge, or effects a child should teach that child to love themselves for who they are and how different they can be.

I’m a super hairy guy with a beer belly and yellow teeth, but these are things that I own and they are parts as my identity.

Now, that being said, sure I try to change things, to be healthier and happier, but not to look like someone else.  Own your attributes, they make you special.

Marilyn Monroe was a size 14, and she banged a kennedy. Why? because she knew her size and owned it.