Back in 2010, I was attended a symposium at Tufts University entitled “Morality and the Mind,” a symposium that brought scientists of cognition into the same room with policy people, in an effort to set up a dialog on what science has to say about morality. One of the speakers there made a remark that has kind of stuck with me. He complained of a “creeping dualism” that causes people to say very strange things such as “my brain made me do it.” He noted the obvious problem with this statement: “There ain’t nobody in here but us chickens.” He has a point, and it’s a good one. If you take away my brain, there’s no “me” there to talk about, so pretending that I would behave differently if I had a different brain doesn’t make any sense. If I had a different brain, I wouldn’t be me at all. [Read more…] about My Mind-body Dragon
For the longest time, much of my self-image rode on the belief that I was some combination of fearless and invincible.
I was never afraid to do things. I just thought I didn’t do things that I did not want to do—for other reasons. I didn’t need to be afraid: nothing cloud hurt me, and besides I knew jujitsu. This approach did one good thing: it got me here (and kept me from killing myself along the way), but it was not well-padded as defenses go.
I pretended to be invincible and fearless, got hurt and scared anyway, then shoved my memories as far from me as I could, which made it harder to learn from experience and get better at life.
My approach meant never taking any constructive, thought-out risks, while leaving myself wide open to the kind of trauma that is a natural companion when you sleep in places you shouldn’t. This put me years behind where I could have been, with a lot of anxiety to work through and skills still to acquire.
While I think being me is good, not every gutter needed to be examined first-hand. A fair amount of good luck is one of the reasons that I am as ok as I am.
Fear is the best survival mechanism we have. It lets know that hugging a rattlesnake might not be the best way to spend any given day. It is really hard to figure out where the snakes are. When the bigger mammals around you are afraid or unhappy, they send out danger signals, but they do not teach you the specifics. Other times, their lessons, while true for where they came from, are limiting and not adaptive for where you are trying to go.
Sometimes when hurt seems unavoidable, we tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter or that it didn’t really hurt or leave a mark. While not all of it breaks us, and we might come out stronger on the other end,
It all matters.
I can’t even claim to have made bad decisions given the information I had. It is possible that if just stayed home and tried to be good, I would have gotten more hurt by all the things that I was running from. If I had to do it over I would listen to my anxiety and numbness more, and do more art and music and team sports and hopefully have made better friends there. I would likely have drunk less, or not at all, and seen fewer purple dragons. But truthfully, that wasn’t really what got me hurt. Most of the hurt happened during the day, and sober. Drinking was just a tool to get through the night and make me willing and able to talk to people, or dance, or touch them.
There were no adult role-models whom I would be ok becoming, no other teens like me, and no way out.
The worst part was feeling like it only got worse.
It took a long time to start to see that it is getting better and I hope everyone finds someone they can see as ok to emulate without cringing as early as possible. I wish I could say that I found my way out on my own, or that there is a simple way out. For me, it took finding one person who could see me and be happy with who they saw without taking advantage of me. Ending a series of bad for me relationships and finding a couple of good friends, one of whom is my partner now.
While not everything works yet (understatement of the week), I can see glimmers of the future that I do not hate, and I hope you do also or will soon.
We walked into the community art place to to put my friend on their mailing list for art classes, not expecting to run into anything too interesting. Today, unlike last time there were people here using the free (or cheap) and open to all arts and crafts section of this tiny store. He was a musician who plays ukulele and whose father, also a musician had the same name as me. [Read more…] about Random Encounter at the Art Place
The options are not “hero of the story”, “villain”,
“love/lust interest”or “dead in a gutter”.
Movies are a way to tell a story and an art form, but they are not representational or reality. Unless it is a documentary, it is more like a fable than an account of events. Even documentaries strongly slant what you see to send the message they are looking to send, creating major confirmation bias.
Movies are like cartoons, comics and sock puppet shows.
They are entertainment, meant to evoke feelings and cater to fantasies.
(Warning, this post is from the brief period when I was “trying to blog the right way”, my apologies if the tone is too directive or otherwise made of gurr.)