Existential Dread of TV

I saw this exchange on facebook this morning…

Person 1 – Been waking up in the middle of the night out of a sound sleep for weeks now. Can’t get back to sleep

Person 2 – Ughhh. Here too, its weird in the winter…. At least in summer you can hang out on the patio and look up at the moon. Too cold for that now, have to settle for crappy tv

Person 3 – Haven’t sleep thru the night in 15 YEARS. My mind just NEVER stops and when i lay down it is the LOUDEST. It is like torture , I WOULD DIE WITH OUT MY TV LOL> If i didn’t listen to every rerun of Friends, Frasier or George Lopez i would scratch my own eyes out LOL

Person 2 – don’t get me wrong, I love crappy tv… Esp George Lopez lol. And hgtv, but i’m thinking it may be the ridiculous political news sites that make me unable to shut my eyes

Person 3 – OMG if i watched that crap i would have to take 5 more Xanax to fall asleep. I keep up with current events and watch enough news local and national to stay informed but come night night time that is LAST thing i could turn on unless i want to have a freaken panic attack. I turn on All the reruns because they DON’T engage my mind but provide just enough noise to shut down that fucking HAMSTER ON A WHEEL that runs in MY BRAIN the MINUTE i lay down EVERY night . I am a prisoner in my own mind and if it wasn’t for my tv and reruns i would NEVER SLEEP

Person 2 – also love Criminal Minds and Blue Bloods… Or an I Love Lucy marathon… Whatever it takes!

Person 3 – OH NO i can’t watch SERIOUS shows because then even with my eyes closed i start listening and then i AM DRAWN in to the plot. AND crack me up with I LOVE LUCY because some nights i fall asleep watching FRASIER , Then at 5 am the MUSIC to The I Love Lucy show comes on and i might as well set an Alarm clock. It wakes me out of a DEAD sleep.

Person 2 – I wake up every couple hours so usually wake up and change channel to what I know will bore me the most

This was followed by a discussion of which drugs and what liquor can help the most for sleeping.

 

I think if I start speaking my mind about what I see from the perspective of others, I’m stepping into territory that will make me sound high and mighty (I’m not) and piss off a great many people.

But.

Here goes.

Half the problem in the country is that none of us know how to be quiet with ourselves.

How to just sit and just be.

Maybe I’m talking about meditation, I don’t know, I’ve never been successful at meditation.

But I do understand how to notice what’s going on in the mind, question why it’s choosing to go that way, and how to redirect my mind to more productive thoughts. (Productive in the way of chemical brain changes. Yay science!)

I’m not an expert in this shit. I don’t know what I’m talking about at all. I haven’t even gotten ¼ of the way through my first cup of coffee. I just know that something is wrong with this whole American scenario. Work and TV as a life? Ugh.

*******

I’m back. After seeing my honey off to work and filling the birds feeders before the snow starts.

I know I don’t have any right to judge another – especially as they do whatever it takes to get through the days, the weeks, their lives – but I can’t think of anything more horrifying than TV as a balm.

Everyone looks to distraction to hide from themselves and their own minds.

This is a theme for me. Note yesterday’s blog post where I quoted what Eugene Delacroix says to himself in 1824 – “Poor fellow! How can you do great work when you’re always having to rub shoulders with everything that is vulgar.”

Nothing is more vulgar than TV.

You really want to sleep while all the night long while inane babble drills into your psyche? (I really don’t want anyone to scratch you own eyes out but, seriously? Is this bombardment of boredom really the only other option?)

When do you take the time to learn what you think?

Why do you try to shut your voice down? How does that help?

I understand the desire to quiet the worries, the fears, and the unhelpful stuff the brain throws at us. I carry around more existential dread on a minute to minute basis than most people I know. But drowning it in commercialism, drugs and mass market entertainment does not lead to contentment and peace of mind. Of this I am sure.

Advertisements

I damn sure knew what I didn’t want. How about you?

I was 46.

And one night, I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep.

I was wondering how best to motivate my employees to do their jobs more conscientiously. Through the years it seemed to me that the quality of the work I got from them had declined. They just didn’t care. Truth is, I had known for a few years that this was the case. And I also knew, if I looked deep into myself, that the problem was me. They were only reflecting my leadership, or lack thereof. So the real question was how to make myself care more.

I used to care. I cared a lot for a long time.

Good coffee is such a thing of beauty and I’m such a fan of quality consumables, when I ‘found’ it, I sucked it up. The ambiance of the cafés, the vibrant feel of caffeine fueled camaraderie, the level of sophistication to the art and science of it all. How exquisite!

I spent my 29th birthday writing a business plan. Some of my friends crowed about “Saturn Returns.” Seven months later I opened Klekolo World Coffee. Within a year it was bordering on success. At 5 years it threatened to collapse under it’s own popularity, but we persevered. Always it created community. People who frequented the place called it their own.

I loved the coffeehouse for a very long time. It was special and magical and filled with artists and creative folk. Many of whom I admire to this day.

I couldn’t say anything was missing. Life, work, friends, a nice house, a rocking café, the good life. But nothing was jazzing me up like all this used to. And this was it, right? Here I was, deep in the life I’d built.

I began to let the place run itself. I no longer enjoyed smiling at people every day while I made their lattes. Better to let the perky young folks do it. They were all well trained. I tried to empower them to do what was right. Mostly the product didn’t suffer, just the cleanliness, the atmosphere. The granting of autonomy made employees feel like they could treat people however it suited them and when they learned they couldn’t, that they had to respect every single person who came through the door, they didn’t like their jobs as much. And I tried to care, and I put out fires and I engaged in retraining and I went to coffee conventions. And the lease came up for renewal again – 15 years!

So I signed up for another five. What other options were there?

Wherever my 30s had gone it seemed my 40s were going there too.

On this night I speak of, age 46, lying in bed, I thought of many things.

Nothing in my life was what I really wanted. That was obvious. The coffeehouse was struggling, the employees didn’t care. I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, because I didn’t know how to fix me. I tried one thing after another to turn it all back around. It wasn’t quite in danger of sinking but the economy wasn’t helping any. I didn’t know what to do.

I was laying there, not sleeping, wondering what to try next. And a brand new thought occurred to me. It was huge.

“If I find myself still here in CT, still running a coffeehouse I don’t love, when I turn 50, whose fault will that be?”

Me. Mine.

I am the only one responsible for my own life.

I didn’t have any solution but I knew now what was untenable.

I looked at my surroundings with new eyes.

I began to let things go.

It took most of two years to reduce my belongings by 75%. It was a learning process. With every layer I peeled away and freed from my hold, I gained more power and insight into what did and did not matter to me.

Along the way it became clear to me that the coffeehouse had to go. It was not moving me forward, nor was it part of my future.

I’m not the best at making big life plans. I didn’t plan to pass college by, I didn’t plan to run off and join the circus, I didn’t plan to return home and start a community, and I didn’t plan what would happen when I no longer owned a coffeehouse. That didn’t matter so much as freeing up space and energy for something new.

My friends shook their collective heads.

“What are you gonna DO?”

“I dunno.”

“Do you have enough savings till you figure it out?

“No.”

Some people think you need to know what you want before you can go for it. I speak from experience. Sometimes, it is enough to start with knowing what you don’t want.

Protected: I damn sure knew what I didn’t want.

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

A Hearse in the Wyoming Night

hearse cropped

I was 18 and I was in Berkeley California when I got the opportunity to travel halfway across the country in a hearse.

I was a new follower of The Grateful Dead and the hearse idea was symbolic and appropriate. What Deadhead wouldn’t jump on such an opportunity?

The hearse was old – a 1963 Cadillac Hearse – so she needed a mechanic. A good one. Someone who would always be there no matter what happened or where.

Steve hired Bob. Bob was a hardcore Punk Rocker, also from Berkeley, and he knew his way around carburetors, gaskets, filters and everything else required to keep an old car moving. While this seemed like an unlikely pairing it worked rather well. Bob was able to fix every problem that cropped up and, mostly, he had fun doing it.

Many years later I bumped into Bob at a party. He introduced me to a friend of his who kind of sneered and actually said something along the lines of – “You KNOW a hippie chick?!”

Bob was delighted and recounted the tale of the time he rode cross country as a hearse mechanic. His Punk Rocker friend was horrified!

“You did DEAD TOUR?!?! That’s SO lame.”

And I had the very memorable and enjoyable experience of listening in while this hard core Punk told his friend all the reasons why Dead Tour was not at all lame – in fact , it was about one of the coolest things. EVER.

“Dude! The parties! The drugs! The dancing! The CHICKS!”

I’m not so sure his friend was convinced but I loved hearing his perspectives and his glowing endorsement of the way we liked to do things.

Anyway.

It was very late one September night. I was asleep in the back of the hearse with 3 or 5 other hippies and Bob when they world started to sway. When I opened my eyes we were swerving all over the road as I tried to think who was driving – do they have control? What’s going on? The hearse rolled to a stop.

From the front seat – “Bob. Wake up man.”

Grumbles and growls as Bob crawled out from piles of blankets to assess the situation while the rest of us pulled the covers deeper over our heads.

We’d had a blowout and now we had a flat tire. This was Bob’s responsibility and we were all pleased it wasn’t our job as we snuggled down into the blanket warmth, grateful that we didn’t have to get up. It was obviously cold out there.

US night lghts

Mmmmm. Not my problem.

Ah but then. Bob told us we all had to get out while he changed the tire.

Guess we hadn’t thought of that.

It was 2 or 3 am and who knows where the hell we were. None too cheerful about having to crawl out into the cold, we tripped over each other and ourselves and fell into the night.

Shiver.

And look up.

HOLY SHIT!

Yeah, not very eloquent but I think we said it collectively.

We were somewhere in Wyoming along Interstate 80. And we were 50 miles from any town in any direction.

And the STARS!

The STARS!

milky way

So close you could almost reach out and touch them.  Stretching from horizon to horizon and looking like you could take a short hike over to see where they’re standing.

Seriously. Have you ever seen that?

Have you ever seen the Milky Way?

Do you even know what it looks like?

There are not a lot of chances to see it on the East Coast. There’s just too much ground light.

Here, in Vail, AZ, I’m about 20 miles southeast of Tucson and it may well be the darkest sky I’ve seen in decades. The sky is so filled with stars here that Orion – who stands proud and alone in my Connecticut front yard – is almost lost among his celestial companions.

And you know what???

milky way faint

I can see the Milky Way!

I can SEE it!

That slash of brightness across the night sky.

It’s a bit faint here. and it has been so long since I’ve seen it that I had to ask to be sure – IS that the Milky Way?

It’s not the brightest it can be. It’s not what ancient peoples saw when they looked up. It’s still tainted by ground light somewhat.

But you know what – It’s THERE and I can see it!

And if you have never had the pleasure – I implore you – at some point in your life – and the sooner the better – get thine ass somewhere crazy-dark and look!

Seriously Look!

LOOK at the sky!!!!!!!

 milky way apod

(Most Milky Way images from Astronomy Picture of the Day.)

Totally Doable

Did you ever lay in bed late at night, thinking…

And find that you know exactly what to do.
The best course of action is obvious.
And this awareness, deep in your soul feels so fresh and true?
And it’s really not THAT hard.
Right?
Might take some hard work or some significant lifestyle change.
But instinctively you know it’s necessary to make the changes, or take the next step to where you know you want to be.
And-its totally doable-given your unique skill set and abilities.

Right?

Excellent. That’s settled then.

And then you get up the next day and do what needs doing – because it is, after all, what needs doing.
And ya don’t start on that hard work.
And ya don’t have that conversation – the one you know you should have – with your sister, or your lover, or your boss.
And ya don’t make that lifestyle adjustment because there’ll be time for that later.

How many times have you done this?

Act.