0252 – mood music and limiting beliefs

[ Currently playing: Endeverafter – Road to Destruction ]

Listening to music on a commute to work is an Interesting experiment in mood-altering. In the present moment I’m listening to my “ARGH” playlist, which is loaded with loud, aggressive music. And I’m definitely paying attention to an increased heart rate, a certain me-against-them mentality attitude emerging. Not that I think that’s a good or bad idea, just observing.

I bought a guitar amp a couple of days ago after months- no, years- of deliberation. I was never quite sure If I deserved it, or if I would know what to do with it. I worried that it would become a piece of $250 furniture. It’s not so much the $$ cost- I don’t want to live a life where I thoughtlessly buy and consume things that I don’t use.

I’m not sure if the deliberation was what makes me love it so much- but I do. I bought new strings, cleaned up my guitar (it still needs a proper setup) and played my fingers raw. There’s something about the loudness and the power of the electric guitar and amplifier combination that’s really seductive to me. It’s not raw volume I’m after. There is an element of grace necessary- pure loudness is vulgar, painful, annoying- like a building crumbling. I’m more interested in watching heavy machinery do ballet- the juxtaposition of power and fragility is what makes it really compelling. When you add some gain- your signal gets wonderfully crackly. It adds the right amount of warmth and edge, turning the otherwise clean and dull signal into something full of character. But if you add too much, the entire body of your sound crumbles into this formless fuzz, and it just sounds like a bunch of drills and saws going off.

It’s a very generalizable problem, I think. How much aggression do you add so that it’s sexy but not a turnoff? How long do you grill the opponent till you win, and how do you stop before you come across as desperate, needy, cruel? How much do you turn up the heat when you cook? How much special effects do you use in your scifi film so it serves the plot and immersion, and how do you keep it from getting outright cheesy (to the point of being unpleasant)? You get the idea. How should you spend your money?

I think it’s very interesting that I’m now in a place with resources and options. I’m still used to operating in a purely theoretical world, as a teenager with no money or resources, trapped first in school and then in the military. And now I suppose to some degree I’m trapped by the circumstances and mindsets I’ve inherited. I’m free to choose how I want to earn my wages, but I’m limited by the fact that I still need wages- to sustain the life-situation that I’ve unquestioningly accepted as my present fate.

I suppose I should remind myself that I don’t have to be trapped in my present box forever, and yet that there will always be some greater boundary that I’m not currently aware of. Surely even millionaires are surely trapped by the feeling that they ought to be billionaires.

So there are at least two classes of limitations- literal physical limitations, like a handicap (and there’s a whole spectrum there- from being really incapacitated, like being in a coma, to less chronic things) and limiting beliefs, which are simply ideas about what you can or cannot do– which may not necessarily correspond to reality.

For example, an elephant floating in deep space can’t really do very much about anything. It’s kinda fucked. On the other hand, if a baby elephant was tied to a little tree, and found that it couldn’t walk away from it, and then grew into a large elephant but remained tied to the tiny tree, it’s being kept there by its oversimplistic assumption– “I can’t get away from this tree.”

I’m taking a lot of words to describe something fundamentally quite simple (I’m going to be doing this a lot over the next 740+ vomits…). I am limited, in life. I have resource limitations and contextual limitations, but these limitations are usually far less significant than I realize. The “worst” limitations are psychological, conceptual– they’re “bad” not because they necessarily cause bad outcomes, but because they’re so “unnecessary”. (I realize we could get into a side-debate about what “necessary” means, and how nothing is truly necessary or unnecessary… but that’s the sort of parlor game you get into when you’re playing without stakes. If you’re playing with real stakes– making decisions about your health, your relationships, your work, etc… damage that is done thanks to external circumstances beyond your control is something you simply have to learn to live with, accommodate. Damage caused by your own action or inaction, because of your misconception of reality… that’s kinda painful. Or rather… it’s wasteful. Ugh, I don’t want to put a value judgement to it– the point is, those are things that you can change, things that you can do something about. And you should always be focused on the things that you can do something about.

To get a level higher, “external circumstances beyond your control” is itself a variable thing– ad you become more powerful, as you gain more control over your own body, as you gain more control over your actions, you gain more control over your immediate circumstances. Put simply– if you sleep well and eat well, you have more executive function and you make better decisions. You might have some surplus room to make some decision that influences you positively in the long run, beyond your immediate pleasure for the day.

That’s what it’s all about. It’s like saving your excess money so that you can use it to invest in compound interest– eventually your investments make more money than your wages, and you can quit your day job and do whatever you like.

Similarly, “I can’t control the world around me” is I think a sort limiting belief. It might be TRUE, but it’s also true in a sense because of decisions that were made or not made earlier. If I had exercised regularly prior to some point, I would be able to react to some situation that requires physical strength, for example. Preparation makes all the difference. The problem is… it’s hard to look far ahead. It requires faith, it requires belief. Sure.

I suppose this is my long-winded way of saying I believe it. I believe it’s possible. I write these vomits partially because they give me a bit of pleasure in the writing– and I should remind myself of that– but there’s also a long-term benefit here, a compounding of these woodshedded savings.

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