Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

“All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.”
Oscar Wilde

I consider myself a poet and I can tell you every one of my poems stem honestly from my very being. These poems are not written just for the sake of writing poetry they are written because my soul needs to bleed, and the way I am able to express myself is through the art of poetry. I have never sat down with the intent to write poetry, it just comes to me without notice. I just need to be in a position to write it down because ten minutes later it will be gone. The way it works for me is I get to the point where my mind begins to swell with so many emotions the levees of my psyche just break down and everything just rushes out. This will last for three or four months and two hundred poems later my mind is put back together and everything is back to normal. During this “normal” period I couldn’t write a poem even if I tried.

If Oscar Wilde is correct in his statement then my poems are not poems at all they are just verbal vomit. I think perhaps if I sat down and focused hard enough I could write something based off my creativity instead of my emotions. My “Dylan Thomas” books are written in poetry form, yet stem from my imagination, but I am never very serious about it. I get a story idea in my mind and anywhere from thirty minutes to eight hours; I have written another edition to this series. I can do this, but I am unable to write poetry just for the sake of writing it.

I have gone back to read my most recent two hundred poems, and I have found some real stinkers (which were pulled from the final manuscript), but for the most part I feel I have created a beautifully emotional piece which is near and dear to me because it is in essence my turmoil which is put into words. I read some of them and I get shivers because I remember how close I was to the edge and in some cases ready to jump off the cliff. My family is unable to read my first book “My Descent into Madness,” because it stirs up to many emotions, which is why I feel they haven’t picked up any of my new books. I have had reviewers tell me they actually cried to some of my poems. In my opinion if my words are able to stir that much emotion then there has to be something good about it.

I have noticed and received similar feedback that my poems are rather raw and simplistic. Perhaps because of this simplicity I am not able to create masterpieces like my idols. I would really love to take some writing classes to hone my skills. I have no idea what poetry really is, the only style I know about is haiku. I think if I learn more about poetry and its styles I may grow to write better stuff.   

I have not been able to write any “emotion” poetry since I finished my book “Trapped Within My Illness.” My brain has just completely shut down to not only writing poetry but it has also crossed into my blog, which I have always been able to write regardless of where I am in my cycle. I am going to make it a personal goal of mine to try and write a poem just to write one and see what kind of poetry I create. I think the first thing I need to do is find a subject and just go with it. I am currently in my poetry hibernation stage so maybe this is the best time to do it. I think I have a about a month or two before my brain swells to the point of busting open again, so I need to be quick on this.

“Reading your own material aloud forces you to listen.”
Stephen Ambrose

When I first started blogging back in January 2010; I thought everything I published was a masterpiece. I would smile from ear to ear knowing I just gave the world a literature masterpiece. I figured because of my lyrical rambling I was going to change the world one reader at a time. It wasn’t until I started working on my book “The Life and Mind of No One Special” when realized just how bad my early writings were. This book was based on one year’s worth of my blog posts. I thought the concept was pretty good, and I have never heard of someone trying this before. I remember when I first started the editing process; I was shocked by just how bad my writing was. I was astonished anyone who read my early writings ever came back for more. It was in reading these writings which caused me to see the shortcomings of my ability. Even though I am no longer doing this book, I am happy because it opened my eyes causing me to work harder on what I put out there. I hope the stuff I am doing today is a far better product.

I was working on this doing some editing and adding new content to my older posts. I think I stopped editing around posts from April. I was already 78 pages into this project and realized this could turn out to be a three hundred page or more project. I am not known for writing the shortest posts, so I apologize if my stuff can sometimes be long winded. I had to take a step back and ask myself why I was doing this. What was my motive, and what was my ultimate goal.

I suppose my motive and goals was to get another one of my books out there on the market. I wanted to provide my regular readers with an opportunity to have all my posts at their fingertips (does this sound conceded?) I wanted to hold a year’s worth of my work in my own hands. I wanted to have a product for new readers who would like to read my stuff without having to do it on the computer. I looked at this and felt my goals and motives were not enough to waste my time finishing this project. I loved the idea, hate the time and effort needed only to appease myself.

More importantly than writing I think this quote can be applied in our personal lives to reveal some much needed insight and truth. Normally when I am in an argument with my wife, or angry about something I will let it stew inside of me consistently adding fuel to the fire. I will go analyze the issue over and over again only seeing things through my narrow minded selfish perspective. One night I was particularly bothered by a certain event which was just eating away at me. I didn’t feel like talking with anyone about it so I started having a conversation with myself.  In turning my irritation into vocalized words I discovered what I was upset about was really stupid and trivial, and yes dare I say this I may actually be wrong. In doing this I was able to clearly see what the problem was, how I was feeling about it, and how others were feeling. I discovered the problem was not other people as I previously thought but was indeed my stubbornness ego which was wrong. I was able to find fault and selfishness for why I was mad, and I gained a better understanding to why my wife was mad at me. In speaking it out loud I was forced to listen to myself and in listening to myself I found clarity. For the first time this situation finally made sense to me.    

I also applied this to my performance as a father. If I am in the midst of playing Madden, writing, or entranced by the television I will get annoyed when I am interrupted by the children. I was confronted with my behavior when I spoke this situation out load. To hear myself say I am angry because my children want my attention or they just needed help with something breaks my heart to actually see my behavior. This verbal self analysis brought light and understanding to my shortcomings. Like my writing I have truly been forced to listen.

 “You know, this is a war of ideology, a war of thoughts and of faith. And we need people to really stand for faith and trust, not hope and change.”
Sharron Angle

In 2010 Sharron Angle received an endorsement from the Tea Party Express, to run for one of the open Senate seats in Nevada. I have about a handful of quotes from this woman, and I can tell you we should all breathe a sigh of relief she didn’t win. The really scary part about all this is she received 44% of the votes. She wants us to abandon hope and change and instead put our trust in faith and God? This woman was close to holding a seat of power preaching religion over progress. This is a belief many of the Tea Party members share. This is a scary concept because their solution to solving our problems is by praying, and putting our faith in a God which may or may not even exist. It worries me a bit that these far right religious nuts are gaining so much ground in the political landscape.

If more and more of these kinds of thinkers take office all logic and reasoning will be thrown out the window. What is in the best interest of our country will be completely thrown out the window. In my opinion representatives with such strong beliefs should be banned from running for office. I would feel more comfortable with an atheist in office, because I know they would make decisions based off logic and reasoning and not on what a fairy tale creature would have them do. I am sure I will get some heat for this comment, but let us not forget Bush’s view that God was speaking to him, and also the religious nuts in the middle east.

This is the part that scares me the most. The leader of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes in the concept of a final Holy War, what’s worse is he believes he is the one charged with ushering it in. If we continue to put into office these religious zealots they will see to it this Holy War happens. For many they believe this is necessary for the second coming of Christ. Here is another gem from Angle:

 “And that’s really what’s happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government.”

Imagine if more and more of these people take office. It could be realistic that abortions are made illegal. Research such as stem cell will be squashed; meaning many cures will never be known. They will start teaching creationism over evolution in our public schools. This nation will become a Christian nation, but not in a good way. We will come to exile those who believe differently from us, and soon religious freedom will be gone. It is a dangerous thing to elect those into office who hold such strong beliefs. Soon decisions are not made based off reason and logic; they are made based on an imaginary concept with an imaginary symbol of ideology.

“You know, I’m a Christian and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.”
Sharron Angle

Yea right!!

“Forget the past- the future will give you plenty to worry about.”
George Allen

Forget the past; wouldn’t that just be so wonderful? Imagine if we could all go to sleep tonight and wake up with our past pain and worries wiped from our memories. I wonder how much differently we would look at life if we were not shackled to our painful past. I imagine we would live life to the fullest not being afraid to try new things, and experience once missed joys. I think our past define who we are and as a result defines our future.

I understand the future will dump on us just as our past has, but this future will soon become the past and before you know it that ball and chain we carry around just seems to get heavier and heavier. The only way to cure the past is through the power of forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Mark Twain

I don’t think we can ever forget our past, but we can forgive. By practicing forgiveness we can eventually move beyond our past pains. I wake up every morning and say “today I choose to forgive.” I do not direct this towards any direct individual or situation I just say it. In saying this I am not only forgiving those who have harmed me, I am also forgiving myself. This little daily exercises has really helped me chip some weight off the ball and chain of a painful past. Try it sometime.

“The mere attempt to examine my own confusion would consume volumes.”
James Agee

I wonder if you were to crack open my skull and dissected my mind what you would find. My mind is a cancer on my soul and rarely makes sense to me. My mind 89% of the time is on hyper drive and I am bombarded with so many thoughts and ideas. These thoughts come across as voices in my head, or over powering thoughts which continue to repeat themselves over and over again until the voices and thoughts are screaming at me. It is hard to be present with the outside world when I am trapped within my own mind. This chaos in my mind causes a cloud of confusion often time leading me to become dazed, confused, disorientate, and delusional.

I have found that writing at least eases some of the pressure on my brain. The problem is I cannot capture every thought or idea. I may come up with an idea for an entire novel in my mind. I know all the characters the plot beginning middle and end. This will swirl around bombarding my mind, and then poof just like that it is gone. No matter how hard I try to remember the details I cannot remember a thing. My mom for Christmas last year got me a recording device so I can just turn it on and talk it out, but sadly it is broken. I feel cheated because I wonder how many great ideas are lost amidst the screaming and confusion.  

I am not sure how the normal mind works, let alone my own twisted mind but solving this puzzle would be a great accomplishment. I wish there was a device I could hook up to my head which constantly grabbed every idea and thought and nicely file it so I could go back for later review. I cannot even imagine the brilliant books I could write, compose some breathtaking poetry, write interesting blog posts, and create delightful “Dylan Thomas” books. My problem is I cannot type or write how fast my brain works, so many things are lost. If this machine existed I would be very pleased. This contraption could not only pull my thoughts, but could also file my feelings nice and tidy. I would then be able to manage my emotions more effectively.

This machine would come in perfectly for my current writers block. I still have all this shit going on in my head, but it is trapped. I need to strain to grab a hold of these ideas and even then they come out jumbled and incoherent. I have been unable to produce quality work in almost three weeks now. My thoughts and ideas are unsystematic and scattered. My mind just wants to shut down, stare off into nothing, and listen to music. It has been getting harder and harder to write, and for me this is a huge deal. I suppose all I can do is keep plugging away at posts until my block is lifted. It upsets me that I am not able to capture everything going on in my head right now, because I know it would make for good reading.  

I think like this quote says the attempt to understand my confusion would create volumes upon volumes of work. Even if I had everything recorded and in its proper place I would still end up confusing myself because the daunting task of trying to put everything together would prove to be to overwhelming. My mind is so complex and multi-layered I do not think even the strongest device could extract everything and put it into order. For example while I am writing this I am bombarded with this constant thought of hiding in an igloo, the urge to draw penises on my wall, the need to somehow create a wall mounting to display all my pens, what if California falls into the ocean, who is controlling the white noise which is frying my brain, and why they came up with the name fruit bats. This was just the first six thoughts which came to my head. This is but a grain of sand in the overall workings of my mind.

I try and cope with this by trying to drown out the thoughts and voices with music. I hate silence it is my archenemy. If I am sitting in silence I am filled with a sense of panic because now all I have are my thoughts. My mind quickly spirals out of control, and I am led down the rabbit hole so to speak. This is why at work my music is always on to drown out my mind. When it is time to write I lift my hand in the air and try to catch any idea and just try to hold onto it long enough to make sense. The posts you see on this blog are all just random thoughts from a random mind.

“We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.”
Aesop

When I hear this quote I think of our involvement in the Middle East and in South Korea; just to name a few. Our involvement in these regions affairs causes tension throughout the globe. This involvement paints America into the self-righteous parenting role, those whose side we approve of calls us heroes; those we disapprove of call us villains. We sit atop our throne of democracy and condemn every single other nation for doing things in ways that we do not “approve” of. This type of pompous positioning is why we are not favored throughout the world. If we deem something to be a problem we stick our noses in where it doesn’t belong. It is this meddling that actually creates more enemies for our nation.

They see us as their enemies because of our involvement in various disputes throughout the world. The radical groups are able to recruit new members based off the propaganda spread by their organizations. They sell America as the evil step-father who is out there oppressing them while in America we live so great. Because we are aligned with their enemies, we then become the enemy. My thing is if we were never involved then there would be no radical groups spreading hatred because we would just be chillin’ at home eating pizza and watching some television.

The North hates America because we are backing the South. If we had zero troops in the South, and just allowed the two to work it out themselves then we would not be breeding a nation of people raised and programmed to hate everything America stands for and every American within it. If we had no involvement in this war then what ammunition would the North have to hate us? The fact is if we were not involved they wouldn’t hate us as much. Not only are we aligned with the South; their greatest enemies we are directly involved in sanctions levied against the North. I understand the leadership in the North is filled with insanity, but that should be all the more reason to stay as far away from this situation as possible. What are we gaining from being involved with this civil war? What is the worst that could happen if you just let the two work it out for themselves? There may be a war and many would die, but should this really be our concern? I say no.

Now let’s take a look at the Middle East. I think the main reason the Muslim nations hate us is because we back Israel their most hated enemy. This is the vocal point for anti-American sentiments, and is a great recruiting tool for new members. There is a deep hatred over there in the Middle East towards Israel, and Israel is one of our greatest allies. This allegiance we formed with Israel is why the Middle East hates us so much. If we would have just stuck to our own borders perhaps 9/11 would have never happened. We are adding fuel to the fire everyday we stand tall with Israel.

I think it is time we step up to the podium and say “all right look you guys we are pulling out and will let you figure this whole thing out yourselves.” I can guarantee you if we were able to do that we would stop giving the extremists reasons to hate us, because we would just become another country in a far off place. The Muslim extremists don’t seem to hate Russia or China. The reason for this is simple they are not meddling in their affairs. I would be willing to gamble that all planned and executed terrorist attacks have probably been against those countries who are involved in the Middle Eastern countries affairs. I think the only time we should consider sending troops out is if there is a full blown world war.

We need to live by example, and the example should be that of peace and harmony within our own borders. We need to become a nation which is admired throughout the world, not for our military might, but for our peaceful society. We should pull everyone of our troops off foreign soul, and bring them home. I am in no way saying abandon our armed forces. We should continue to build our military to become the mightiest army in the world, not because we plan on using it, but because protecting our boarders should always be a priority.  

We need to rid our government of crooked politicians, and become a nation for the people by the people. If we become admired and respected then perhaps when we speak out against something it may carry more weight throughout the world. If we were to funnel all the money we currently use for war, and occupation we would have enough funds to create programs in this country aimed at bettering our society. We can still be the parents of the world except this time we can lead by example instead of waving our fingers in disapproval.    

Aesop or Esop (620-564 BC), known for the genre of fables ascribed to him, was by tradition born a slave and was a contemporary of Croesus and Solon in the mid-sixth century BC in ancient Greece. Aesop’s existence remains uncertain, and no writings by Aesop survive, but numerous fables attributed to him were gathered and set down in writing across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day; various collections under the rubric Aesop’s Fables are currently available. In these stories animals speak and have human characteristics; see for example the Tortoise and the Hare or the Ant and the Grasshopper.

*****I have a question and need feedback from my readers. “The Philosophy of Quotes” is an ongoing series of posts. I have like in this post added a short bio of the author of the quote, and times I have not. Do you enjoy reading a short bio or should I just leave it out?*****

“We do not attract what we want, but what we are.”
James Allen

This quote is taken from Allen’s masterpiece “As A Man Thinketh.” The title was taken from a verse in Proverbs chapter 23 verse 7 “as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is” This book has had a large impact on my life and in how I wish I could approach it. I carry it everywhere with me to read in case I need a pick me up, and I am overcome with negativity. The main point of Allen’s book is a man is literally what he thinks. This concept is right in line with the theory that if you think positive thoughts then positive things will be drawn to you, and if you think negative thoughts negativity will come to you. I am of the group who thinks you should plan for the worst and hope for the best. I am aware this frame of thinking will only attract negativity, but for some reason it is difficult for me to hold onto the positivity.

I want to attract many different virtues to try and become a better person, but in reality I am only attracting what I currently am, and what I currently am is nowhere near what I want to be. Allen says we are anxious to improve our circumstances, but we are unwilling to improve ourselves and because of this we remain bound. This is why I am taking therapy so seriously. I want to improve myself so my life, thoughts, and actions are those of a virtuous man. I have a picture in my head of what I want to become. This is almost the identical image I have had for years, yet I am unable to achieve it. I may have a great week or month, but then I slip into what I am. My issues and my thoughts were not taking care of, and as a result I end up losing the positive me.

I need to fill my mind with positive thoughts. Allen tells us every action and feeling is preceded by a thought. Everything we do is because of a thought. If we are able to fill our thoughts with positive virtues then logically we will make virtues decisions. These thoughts are fueled by positive self talk. If I allow negative self talk such as worry or anxiety to take over then I will be consumed with the negative. If I can fill my days with positive self talk; I in theory will yield positive results. When it comes to an anxiety or panic attack I struggle to find this right thinking. I often times get sucked into the moment and everything seems to spiral out of control.   

This book makes me think about my journey into living a Tao centered life. I want all these great lessons to become a part of my life and ultimately who I want to be. I want this, but it is just not who I am. According to Allen I can change this by thinking positive things at all times, and in the process work towards improving myself. One lesson from the Tao I always carry with me is this; first you need to learn it, think it, and then you live it. I suppose I am in the beginning stages of each step. This book gives me the hope that with enough hard work and enough positive thinking I will one day turn my life around to what I think I am into what I want to become.

James Allen  (November 28, 1864–1912) was a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry. His best known work, As a Man Thinketh, was mass produced since its publication in 1903 and has provided a key source of ideas to countless bestselling motivational and self-help authors of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As a result he is considered the pioneer of the self help movement. As with many of Allen’s works, the book’s launch was quiet and its full impact was not felt until after his passing.

“What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream?”
Woody Allen

This manner of thinking has been the center of many of my psychosis throughout life. When I begin to take baby steps further away from what is real. At this point reality and fantasy begin intertwining with one another. When I am dreaming I believe I am awake, and when I am awake I suppose I am dreaming. This gets very complicated because my dreams are so vivid they feel like everything is so real. When I am consumed in this mode of thinking, I get more and more mixed up. Pretty soon I am crossing each reality over and over. In a dream I may be referencing something from when I was awake, and while I am awake I am referencing dreams. This criss-crossing of realities gets awfully confusing.

One (out of many) reoccurrings thought I have been having is if I in my current state exist, or am I just an entity inside of someone’s mind or dream. I am able to battle this frame of thinking with René Descartes “Cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am.) If I am able to formulate thought then I cannot be inside someone’s dream because dreams do not have imagery with individual thought. I would think this is far to complex to be a fabrication inside of someone’s mind. This may be possible if I myself am the individual dreaming. If this dreamer is dreaming me as an alter ego to themselves then it would be only natural that I would have thought since this individuals mind is thinking through me in the dream state. My dream self could realistically wake up as a butterfly who had just dreamed of being a human. This is may seem doubtful, but is a very realistic possibility. In thinking I am only establishing that I have thought, but whether this thought constitutes reality could be up for debate. 

Descartes goes on in his book “Meditations on First Philosophy” to say that just because I am able to validate my existence I cannot prove the existence of others. This messes with me because it draws me to believe that reality is something I may never be able to prove. I could very well be in a dream, or I could very well be a memory somewhere in my mind. What I am doing right now feels as real as anything, but is that not so for dreams. When I am dreaming I do not question the reality I am in, unless I am amidst the psychosis I mentioned earlier.

I know or at least I think I can prove I really exist and I am not in someone’s dream by applying cogito ergo sum, but this to may be misleading. The mind is a powerful thing, and who really knows if it can or cannot produce five or five thousand different individual thinking dream people. If this is the case then this concept does not apply, and I have no way of proving whether I could be dreaming, or a fabrication in someone else’s dream. Who knows if as I type this I am actually resting snuggly in my bed? Who knows if you the reader are actually fabrications within my dream?

When I was plagued with these questions as a teenager and young adult I would focus on the mantra “I think therefore I am.” This brought me back to a supposed reality where I was able to find a baseline. Descartes was the first philosopher I read, so I took his writings as philosophical fact. I turned his musings into absolute truth. As I got older and discovered many other view points and the many different possibilities I have a harder and harder time finding absolute truth within this statement. The question whether I actually exist in physical form cannot be proven; therefore I am left with trying to find what is real. I could very well be deceased and I am living in purgatory just reliving my life. Who really knows the absolute truth behind this conundrum? I personally do not think my existence can be proven, and I do not think your existence can be proven either.

“Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic, and so am I.”
Oscar Levant

Due to the shooting in Arizona; schizophrenia has become a hot topic. It is sad that this illness is brought to the forefront in such a negative light, all because of one person. I am certain many people out there believe those who suffer from schizophrenia are nothing but raving lunatics walking the streets talking to themselves while wearing tinfoil helmets to shield the government from stealing their thoughts. I think this is the image most Americans think of when they hear the word schizophrenia. Yes there are some of us out there, who unfortunately may fall under this generalization, but for the most part this is simply not the case, and in my opinion is a form of discrimination. These types of sweeping statements are the same as saying “all Muslims are terrorists.” Yes there are those who deteriorate to the point of madness such as Jared Loughner had, but this one man does not define how everyone else with this disease acts. There are many high functioning schizophrenics out there who work have families and contribute to society. It is sad that as a society, those of us who suffer from mental illness need to still carry that stigma around with us.

I know society does not deal well with mental illness. There are so many uneducated people out there with discrimination in their heads. I can tell you a personal story of such discrimination. I was working at a company which shall remain nameless. I was employed there for a while, and I was excelling at my job. I would go out to lunch with my co-workers and shoot the shit. Business was good, and there were no complaints against my job performance. I shared a cubicle with two other guys and we worked together to make sure projects were getting done. We were all in the cube one day when the topic of mental illness was brought up. They were talking about how those who have bi-polar disorder are drug addicts and completely useless to society. They went on to say how they are all violent criminals who are completely out of control. At first I bit my lip, just hoping they would go on to the next topic. About twenty minutes into MI (mental Illness) bashing I final had to interject. I told them their comments were offending me since I am bi-polar (diagnosis at the time but later changed.) I told them I am able to contribute to society and I am by no means violent or a drug addict. The cube became awkwardly silent and rather uncomfortable. They apologized for offending me, and I accepted. We went back to work with no other issues. Two days later I was “laid off.”

Schizophrenia is a progressive brain disease where as time passes symptoms of this disease seem to get worse and worse. I am only thirty-one years old so I am in the infancy stages of my illness. I am able to manage it properly so I can function within society.  My doctors have done a great job with managing my symptoms with medication. I have a job, which suites my illness perfectly allowing me to be a productive member of society. I am able to be a husband, father, and friend. I still have episodes where I fall apart and need daily living assistance, but I am able to get out of my head and find sanity. The progressive part is what scares me though. I am afraid of where my mind will be in five or ten years. I worry about slipping so far into my head I become completely detached. What scares me is I won’t even know what is going on. The shitty thing about this is I cannot control this inevitable outcome. I just need to have hope and faith I will always be high functioning.   

With all the negativity going around about this illness I thought I should speak out about it. Yes there are those who completely lose touch with reality. The sad part is they can be reeled back in with medication along with the proper support system. This shooting in Arizona could have been avoided if Loughner’s friends and family had been monitoring him more. From interviews I have seen it sounds like his friends knew he was off his rocker, yet stood by and did nothing. There are millions of us out there who suffer from one form of MI or another, yet I feel that we hide it in shame. Many of us are high functioning adults who seem in control of our illness.

I am not embarrassed or ashamed of whom I am, and I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my illness. I am proud that I am high functioning considering my diagnosis. I am proud I can hold down a job and raise a family. I may have a mental illness, but this illness does not define me as a person. I need to learn to live within my limitations and accept who I am illness and all. I wouldn’t need to hide or be ashamed if my illness was MS, but for some reason I should feel differently because it is MI? I think people hide their MI like a dirty little secret because they are scared of being judged. Does anyone else hear how sad that sounds?

“We learn the inner secret of happiness when we learn to direct our inner drives, our interest and our attention to something besides ourselves.”
Ethel Percy Andrus

How common is selflessness in our culture today? Have we become a society where the “me” first mentality reins supreme? How many people out there can honestly say they put others needs before there own? I would imagine the percentage is rather small, but then again I have very little faith in our current humanity. I know there are many wealthy Americans who do great deeds of charity, giving away millions of dollars to various organizations, but are they doing this because they are putting others before themselves or are they doing these things for tax breaks, self-image, or some other form of self-interests. I know like our country I struggle with the disease of selfishness. When I slack on studying the Tao Te Ching, I tend to lose my center and allow ego and selfishness back to the forefront of my conscience. The days I am able to live by putting others before myself, tend to be my greatest Tao moments. I have learned so much from the Tao thus far, but I have a hard time living the lessons on a daily basis. I would love nothing more than to rid myself of my most embarrassing character flaws, but this has proven to be a hard habit to break.

Ever since I started writing I have directed my inner drive on achieving my writing goals; neglecting my other responsibilities. There was a time when I would get home from work and do nothing but write until it was time for me to go to bed. Naturally this produced friction in my marriage and my ability to be a good father. My interests and attention was focused in a selfish manner, and my happiness was greatly impacted. Once I started to let this desire go I noticed a greater sense of happiness inside of myself as well as my family. I also noticed how much my happiness was affected by this simple change. Now this could be because my selfish focus on my writing was causing so many arguments, and now they were not, or it could be because of how I felt about myself knowing I was putting others before me. I know my wife and kids are happy I made this transition. Yes there are days where all I want to do is write, but if I only do this once every other week or so then I am met with love and understanding from my family. The question I need to answer is finding balance. When I do not work at home my writing suffers, but when I do get sucked into writing I can’t seem to find a happy balance.

There are some aspects of my life where I need to be selfish and that is in managing my mental health. For many years I felt guilty for shutting down and tuning out when I finally hit a mental wall. I have since talked to my therapist and she reassured me that being selfish when managing your MI is actually a good thing. I can only go so long before my mind and body begin to deteriorate. I for the most part have been good at recognizing my symptoms prior to just completely breaking down. When I recognize this I immediately need a few days to shut down and recharge. I need to have little to none negative or hyper stimulation, and I either need to cuddle on the couch and watch television or play Madden. My therapists praised me for being able to identify my current state and know what I need to correct this. My wife is understanding of this and accommodates me well. My problem is I will turn a weekend or evening of recharging into two-weeks of laziness. I have transformed productive selfishness into damaging and negative selfishness.

I work everyday at trying to put others before myself. I am a bit frustrated with my progress to this point. I began studying the Tao Te Ching ten months ago. It has taken me this long to get through twenty-five verses. I feel like I should still be on the first verse. Should I really move on to the next if I have not yet mastered the lessoned learned from each verse. The first verse talks about turning desiring into allowing. The verse says to sit back relax, and stop trying so hard to achieve something, instead just allow it to happen. Although this verse does not directly mention selflessness it is perfect for my selfishness because in times I want to get something done, it is all I think about and I become irritated when something stands in my way. The third verse builds on this concept and says it much better “practice not doing. When action is pure and selfless, everything settles into its own perfect place.” Now if I could just live this everyday I would be golden. 

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.”
Ethel Percy Andrus

Our country is founded and thrives on capitalism, where greed and selfishness are the building blocks. Imagine a world where every citizen inhabiting our planet stopped with the “me” first mentality and instead lived to serve their fellow man. There would be no war, poverty, violence, starvation among many other things. We would live in a world where the rich would shelter the poor, instead of stepping on top of them. Sick adults and children would receive life altering medical care, not because they have insurance but because it is the right thing to do. If every one of us took the very first step towards thinking of others in time we would live in a much better world, but who am I to talk. If I cannot cure the disease of selfishness in my own life how can I ask others to change theirs?