0483 – stop fussing about Poor Little Me

I distracted myself for a few minutes, and it’s now 5:58am as I begin my third vomit. I think I’m okay with that. I think I beat myself too much about moving away from my work, which is a sort of game I play to continue avoiding my work while pretending that it somehow helps me do more work. In reality, the right thing to do when you’re upset that you’re not doing work is to let go of your upsetness and get back to doing your work. Each time you notice that you’re not doing your work, you go “Oh, I’m not doing my work. I’d like to be doing my work. Let’s do my work.” And then you do your work. (Exception, of course, if you’re exhausted, need a break, have better things to do other than your work, and so on.)

I’m reminded of a Mark Manson post I was reading where he was talking about answering an email about somebody who asked about how to find one’s passion, and Mark pointed out that when we were children we never worried about what we were supposed to be doing to maximize our utilities. We just did what we wanted.

There’s something very Zen about that. It’s funny. We start out that way but we’re educated and taught by school and society and our peers that we ought to be worried all the time. And the worrying saps our energy. If we let go of the worry, again, we can often do twice as much as we want. We could do the work, and be done, AND go and play. But somehow there’s something seductive about the worry and stress. I read something somewhere about how it actually activates the “pleasure” part of the brain– not sure what the details are. It’s not that it literally feels good, but that it’s habit forming? The worry and stress are painful, but the pain functions as a sort of self-regulator. [1] So then we navigate by the worry and the stress. It makes us feel somehow relevant and important. The aches and pains in our body and in our head remind us that we’re somehow significant. Somewhere else in the brain we think “Oh, poor me, all that suffering.” But the suffering is optional. We take it on because we prefer it to the suffering of the unknown.

This is mindblowing stuff– I’ve probably said it before but it’s a Truth In A Box– something that’s so radically outside of our (or at least my) everyday experience that we don’t quite know how to contextualize it. Accepting it as true requires radically recreating everything else that we know to be true, and that’s really hard and uncomfortable and I’ve already moved in all my furniture and unpacked everything and I have plans for how I’m going to develop and such over the next few years!

Poor little me. Hahahahah. Alan Watts laughs at it, and he talks about how Zen masters laugh when students come to them and say “Can you please help me, I’m so stressed and tired and weary”, and they’re like, who’s stressed? Who? You? God? You’re stressed? Don’t make me laugh. Hahahaha. HAHAHAHAH! It’s fucking hilarious! [2]

What else do I want to say… I guess the entire human pursuit of trying to seek validation from others is fundamentally broken. I’m thinking now of Ribbonfarm’s Gervais Principle and how Sociopaths supposedly have to create arbitrary meaning for the others, because they’re somehow incapable of creating it for themselves. I don’t know how it happens. I guess we’re born clueless, we’re born in the zoo, and facing the actual indifference of reality is too shocking, too scary, that we’re willing to retreat to remarkably twisted and cruel zookeepers to get validation and treats. We all want validation and treats. It’s sickening when you think about it, but we go back to it over and over again. Because it’s familiar. Searching under Streetlights.

Ultimately there are no idols. Nobody knows what the fuck is going on. Some people have their heads screwed on better than others, some people are better at navigating shitstorms than others. But I can’t keep continuing to navigate based on worry and fear and shame and guilt, and I can’t keep depending on other people to help me decide how I should spend my time and what I should prioritize and so on. I guess as long as we’re in the suboptimal space where we’re still driven by shame and peer pressure and such, it makes sense to seek better peers. And as social animals we’re always going to be influenced by our peers. But ultimately my true North should be the work that I know in my heart I want to do. I just have to stop ignoring it, and stop enjoying the masochistic pain of Poor Little Me.

[1] See, this is goo. It’s an unfounded hypothesis. I will have to refine and correct the hypothesis the moment somebody shows up with proper science. The annoying thing about prickly people is that they seldom just go “Hey, here’s a refinement of what you’re trying to get at”, but “WRONG. YOU ARE SO WRONG. OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU SO DUMB.” I guess it’s easy to get personally offended whenever people don’t see things the way you do, or don’t have the context that you do, and so on. I wonder why I’m rambling on about this. I have some strong feels here, which is pretty interesting.

[2] Comedy and laughter seems to be one of the best ways to mainline truth into the brain. We laugh when something is unexpected, when the punchline takes us to a different destination. And we enjoy it somehow. We enjoy the rewiring, the redrawing of the navigation on the map. Which is interesting, don’t you think? I’m reminded of that brown dude’s comedy bit on Reverse Racism, and how it’s incredibly educational. All comedy is incredibly educational. We remember things when we laugh. So the way to remember something you want to remember is to make a joke out of it. Make it deeply personal, and make it funny by contrasting it against something else, draw a weird, funny mental picture that maps onto something real inside your own head, something meaningful and significant yet true. It’s hilarious that I worry and suffer because of my ego, because it makes me feel significant. It’s tragic hilarious. I should explore this thread further.

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