Who Are These People…?

Friend or Foe-getaboutit…

When I began my first fitness blog in 2001, I developed a small, but dedicated following.  These were like-minded people who found value in what I was suggesting about the direction of fitness culture.  As near as I could tell at the time, there were a mere thousands of fitness blogs worldwide posting regularly.  By the time I shut that blog down in 2008, my following was roughly the same size it was when I began.  In 2008 though, there were millions of fitness blogs posting with regularity, most of them run by fitness hobbyists, not fitness professionals.

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OB Pier.  Friend Of The Devil…

Wanting to break from the direction of fitness blogging, and feeling like I had something worthwhile to say about the state of nearly anything, I began a new blog in hopes I would attract more readers.  However, up against millions of other blogs, I would fare no better with the new incarnation.  Some readers from my previous blog stayed with me, but my audience of millions eluded me.  Those readers who stayed with me, were my first online friendships.

Face Facts…

Listening to PRI’s Marketplace program one afternoon in 2007, I heard a technology executive state that anyone with a small business or a small idea who wanted to grow it, would be wise to utilize the up and coming social media site, Facebook.  Facebook, he claimed, was going to be the future of marketing and the future of communications.  The man suggested there would be profound advantages to any businesses getting involved with Facebook early, that would not be as advantageous for the latecomers.   I immediately opened a Facebook account, and shortly thereafter created a page in support of my business and my blog.

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Main Street, Bryan, TX

I knew few people in my analog life who were on Facebook at this point, but many subscribers to my blog were, so I extended those connections from my blog to Facebook.  I was now writing on 2 platforms for the same people.  Because the Facebook platform made it easier to cultivate discussions, plus it added an element of individuality, I got to know my readers on a more personal level, though the quantity of subscribers to the blog increased negligibly.

Eventually, I began making more personal connections on Facebook than business connections – friends of friends who I have never met, friends I knew from days gone by, plus more people in my daily life were taking the plunge.  At the peak of my first Facebook account (I have now had 3), I had roughly 2,000 friends.  That’s when it all got a bit sketchy.  I began to question the term friend.

As time doing more important things gave way to online time with my friends, I began to question how I was prioritizing Facebook.  I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace of posting, of scrolling and liking, and checking notifications with every break in my daily action.  Notwithstanding, my presence on Facebook did little to expand my business or my blog, and that was my primary reason for creating a Facebook account.  To make it more manageable, I pared down my friends from 2,000 to just a few hundred, and began to accept that this was now my social life, and had little to do with my business.

Living Alone With Hundreds…

For most of my life I’ve had few friends, and those who I called friend were friends for life.  I have always been appreciative, if not jealous, of people who seem to have many good friends.  I’m also an introvert with a pretty serious case of social anxiety disorder.  With Facebook, I came to life socially, and took on a noticeable confidence that I had not previously experienced.  I began accepting my friends, even those who I have never met, as real friends and friends for life.

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39,700 feet over the line of demarcation.  El Paso/Juarez

Suddenly, I was spending time each day with people I like, people who I thought were cool, intelligent, interesting or just had some level of awesome.  Strangely, at least some of them found those qualities in me.

Coffee in the morning was now shared with friends in Omaha and Brisbane, as evenings by my fire pit were shared with friends from Boulder to India.  I was living alone, but rarely alone.  For the most part, I found these friendships inspiring.  I was exposed to new music, new ideas, new books, recipes, new conversations and within them all was no shortage of sophomoric humor.  I looked forward to being on Facebook.

Life Sentence…

With some online friends, there has been no doubt that a person is a true friend.  Like in real estate, sometimes you just know.  There are at least a couple of dozen people who I would gladly go into battle with or for, yet we have never met face-to-face.  I might not even know what they do for a living or if they have children, yet I know they would have my back and I, theirs.

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Kyle Field, Texas A&M Campus

Other friends, have been more questionable – on some level, doubt about their intentions or sincerity occasionally bubbles under the surface in a why am I connected with this person kind of way.  It’s not that I inherently distrust them, it might be that I just don’t know them well enough – yet.  But that’s on me, not them.

There are also those incidental friendships – cyber-acquaintances; people I connect with superficially due to a common friend, common interest or both, but don’t spend too much time hanging out with.  It’s as though we just wave to each other as we pass in the hallway.

Always churning beneath the surface of any of online friendship have been two questions…

  • What do I really know about this person…?
  • If we were neighbors, would we hang out…?

Every so often during my daily scrolling, I will ask myself this of one friend or another.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever answered these questions honestly, since I rarely blocked or unfriended anyone.  I might not always like, comment or agree on their posts, but my friend for life rule reminds me that if I accept somebody into my life as a friend, I do so for life.   On occasion, I might question that rule, but it’s woven into the fiber of who I am – accepting of others as I want them to be accepting of me.

The Wear, Tear And The Joy…

Even online friendships can require work and maintenance.  In dealing with the half-dozen or so analog friends I had before the internet, nurturing those friendships could be draining.  Dealing with dozens or hundreds of relationships online can be outright exhausting.  Still, protection of the relationship is necessary for them to be true friendships.  This desire to protect is no different than with any other relationship, be it with my kid, my neighbor or my dog.  Getting along with a few friends takes work.  Getting along with a few hundred…

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Los Jilgueros Preserve, Fallbrook, CA

When I suggested to my online Ohana that I would be stepping back from social media for a month or so, a few people teased me about it…

“Here we go again…”  came my way from a few.  Others were understanding and wished me luck or hoped that I find what I’m looking for.  Largely though, my departure was probably more unnoticed than noticed, and there’s a lot to be learned about online friendships from that statement.

In an increasingly complex and changing world, the meaning of friendship changes too, just as the meanings of Republican, Democrat, Scholar, Doctor, Uncle, Mechanic and thousands of other terms have changed.  It’s just where we’re at.

The Love We Take…

I wrote this essay, and a few others before it, to help myself explore how social media fits into my life and into my head in this changing world.  I also wrote it to help me better understand what it means to be, and to be accepted as a friend.  I’m certain will write more on the subject.

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Jonathan Livingston Miagi, OB Pier

I have come to few conclusions about any of this.  Social media confuses me.  It benefits me.  It sucks up my time.  It inspires me.  It’s a release for me.  It’s my creative muse, my mistress, my downfall and my happy place – all at once.  But that’s not about social media, is it…?  That’s about me, the chaos in my head and my discipline, or lack of…

At the end of the day, life is about two things; work and relationships.  Social media, for me, has been an escape from one, and an extension of the other.  For nearly a decade, before I step into my shop each morning to earn my keep, I share time with like-minded friends that I might find inspiration or laughter.  When I close up shop at the end of the day, I have headed into the cyber world to vent, find inspiration or check out some new music.

For my part, I use social media to share interesting pictures, ideas or thoughts expressed with my words.  Sometimes it’s an online diary, other times it’s a place of worship, but I try hard to stay out of the mosh-pit of bad ideas.  I attempt to keep it positive and productive.

A Hot Spoon And A Keyboard…

On the heels Adam Alter’s book, Irresistible (which I cannot recommend enough), I realize that I have spent too much time on social media, Facebook in particular.  The good news is that I still find time for other things; analog friendships, outdoor activities, work and exercise to name a few, so I really can’t say that I’ve had an addiction.  It’s more like a codependency, but that too is on me, not social media.

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Vegan nightmare.  Treating my family to dinner at The Salt Lick, Austin TX

What I have learned most from reading about and writing about social media, and the one lesson I would like to share from this experience is this…

It’s okay to be alone, unplugged, and with nothing to occupy my mind other the sights and sounds of whatever is taking place in the vicinity of my front yard.  I live so much of my life with gusto and enthusiasm, yet rarely do I get a Jones to sit and forget all things.  Going forward, this will be a greater priority to me.  I will turn off my off my phone more.  Seek to be stimulated, entertained and amused less.  I will remember it is important to do nothing at all, and I will build that into my day. 

On getting back to my original question – the title to this essay, Who Are These People…?  Well, they are my friends, and if you are reading this, you’re probably one of them.  As to whether I go back to Facebook or Instagram at the end of my 30-day break, I probably will – probably.  If I do, I hope to use it more intelligently, and less…  Jhciacb

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Cra Cra Cra…

A Purpose Driven Mind…

Life, death and meaning – they have been woven through my thoughts since I can remember.  It consumes me; the value of a life, the reasons for death and the meaning of all that happens in-between.  I scarcely look at anything; my daughter’s eyes, a neighbor’s dog, a faucet, a fence post or a Pop-Tart without contemplating the value and the meaning of it all.

The biggest struggle I contend with is my daily steering between the great magnificence of life, and the utter insignificance of it all.  Not just my life and my meaning, but all the lives and meaning that are interconnected with my own at a given moment.

At the core of it are two opposing perspectives…

  • That in the scope of a vast and far reaching universe, the life of any being, critter or circumstance here on earth, seems insignificant, if not outright meaningless.
  • That in the scope of any moment, all life and circumstance I am proximate to and interacting with, be it my neighbor or a sea cucumber, is profoundly important and most meaningful.

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I think of light.  Of light being a wave or a particle, quantum physicist John Polkinghorne once wrote…

“Light can be a wave or a particle, but it can’t be both at the same time.  Ask light a wave question and it will give you a wave answer.  Ask it a particle question and it will give you a particle answer, but it can’t give you both answers at once…”

That’s how a feel about life most days; mine, yours or anyone else’s.  It’s either meaningless or important, but it can’t be both at the same time.

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The Spies Within Me…

Also in my head from an early age, were those people who I envisioned judging me.  As a child, I felt in a near literal way, that there was always a half-dozen or so people who had their eyes on me, 24/7.  These were a rotating cast of real life characters in my life, usually my elders, that I imagined viewing me and judging me from an ethereal conference room somewhere in the distance.  In my mind, they were observing me, discussing and deliberating over all my actions, yet never sharing their conclusions with me.

This feeling that a half-dozen or so people were watching me, influenced many of my actions and behaviors in my younger days. Sometimes my actions aimed to impress this pantheon in my head.  Other times, I allowed my thoughts and actions to drift into murky waters, without much regard for their opinion.

Though I would grow to disbelieve the people in my head were literally watching me, the feeling that I am constantly being watched and judged by those I look up to, has never left me.  I’m certain that feeling is the closest we can ever get to knowing God.

A Creative Outlet…

As a creative outlet, digital technology has given me the tools to express myself and to live my life in ways the analog world never had.  Social media has given me something to go with that – an audience.  That has been the most dubious aspect of social media for me – that more people than ever are judging my thoughts and actions, just like the pantheon of elders in my head when I was young.  Of course, this has been the result of me inviting them in, and subsequently throwing it all out there to be seen.

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For over a decade now, I have made good use of the tools of technology.  The tools I have used the most are the word processor and the smartphone camera.  They have become a part of how I think and an extension of who I am.  The vehicle that I have used to deliver my product of being me has been social media platforms such Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even this WordPress blog.

I started slow, but my use/dependency on these tools and these platforms has increased over time, to the point where creating and sharing via digital technologies has become central to my life.  It has become my biggest active priority – perhaps too big.  I have come to view myself as a social media addict and artist; writer, photographer, moral philosopher and on occasion, even a comedian, who just can’t quit.

Somewhere along the way, the line between the analog Roy of yesterday, and the digital Roy of today has gotten blurry.  I often feel lost in the sense of who I really am.  Am I the guy who lived his life, for most of his life, keeping his thoughts and ideas mostly to himself, only to share them with a few close friends….?  Or, am I the guy who doesn’t think a single thought or make a single move without considering how my social media Ohana might react to it…?

I’m both, I suppose.  Like light being a wave or a particle, I just can’t be both at the same time.

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I’m now 10 days into a Facebook hiatus – again.  It has already become clear to me how significant the presence of social media has been in most of my thoughts and actions in recent years.  I’ve come to realize that under the surface in so much of what I do and what I think, I am constantly considering how my friends would view my thoughts and actions if I were to share them on social media.  I scarcely look at, do or think anything these days without wanting to share it, or at least consider how people might act if I were to share it.

With that said, my most challenging thought in stepping away from social media has been this:  What good is doing anything, if I’m not going to share it and have it be validated…?

The Junta In My Head Part II…

I’ve probably thought far too much about all of this, and if you’ve read this far, you probably agree.  I thank you for hanging in there with the crazy.

When I was 10 years old, I felt a half-dozen people or so, were watching my every move, and judging me.  I acted sparingly because of it, as I silently worked out the whys of life in my head.  Forty-five years later, thanks to the digital age, I now try to work out the whys of the world with my online performance art, and I’ve invited hundreds to view and judge my own personal Truman Show, you included.  I once thought the whole world was staged just for me, and mostly, I still do.  In the digital age, at least get to choose my audience.

As far as answering the all whys in the world, and searching for meaning, I’m certain life is meaningful and important.  I’m just as certain that all life is meaningless and unimportant.  And the only thing I think I truly know is that it can’t be both at once…   Jhciacb

comments are closed this week

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Evolution or Vomit…?

Late Baby Boomers and early Generation Xers don’t have much in common in the things that define our social sensibilities.  In politics, arts, sports, faith and much more, late Boomers and early Gen Xers tend to have different priorities, which often happens as one generation morphs into the next.  One thing we share though, is that we will be the only generation of humans who will have lived a fair part of our adult lives both before and after the advent of digital technology.

Though it’s true there were people born in the early part of the 20th century, before cars and before airplanes, yet lived long enough to see a man walk on the moon, the technical evolution they experienced does not compare well to the adults who woke up one day, and had the internet happen.  The technical evolution of the mid-20th century, was just that, a technical evolution.   Digital technology though, did not evolve, it vomited.

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My daughter wears a t-shirt that reads…

“One day I woke up, and the internet happened”

That’s not true.  It happened just a few years before she was born.  By the time she was in the 1st grade (1996), the internet was part of her daily life.  All of her sensibilities were cultivated in an expanding digital age.

I’m 55 years old.  If I consider my adult life to have started at age 20, then roughly ½ of my adult life has had access to the internet.  In blogging and social media, I have been a participant for nearly 1/4th of my adult life.  Assuming the internet isn’t a passing trend (wink), then when I die, I will have interacted with, if not been dependent on the internet for most of my adult life.  However, my adult sensibilities were all cultivated before the advent of digital technology, and before the internet.

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I obsess on that – that my adult values and sensibilities were formed before the influence of the internet, yet digital technology has been, and will continue to challenge those sensibilities for the rest of my adult life.  Because of this, I continue to wrestle with one question that nobody born into an already digital world will never have to address…

How has technology influenced or changed the way that I think…?

Of course, there’s no way to truly know this.  Most of my social contemporaries probably don’t care.  It keeps me awake though, it regularly interrupts my thinking process, and it bubbles under the surface of most of my thoughts, most of the time.

Perhaps a better question – if I go back a decade or so, is this…

How has social media influenced the way I think, and the way I behave…?

I’m going to spend the next few weeks, or perhaps the next few months, exploring those questions here on this blog, and I’m going to be very open and honest about it.  I’ve taken leave of all my social media platforms except for this blog.  Whether I return to them, I can’t say.

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As I write this, I’m halfway through the book, Irresistible, by Adam Alter.  If what I have written thus far has captured your attention, even a little, then I highly recommend this book, despite that I haven’t completed it yet.  I can already tell it’s one of the more important books I’ll ever read.

In an inverse irony, what has fed this blog going back nearly a decade, is that I have promoted it largely via social media.  That has worked well for me.  If you’re reading this, then you are one of just a handful of people who willfully subscribed to it, or had it fed to them via my email data base.  In either case, thank you for taking the time.

If a crazy man blogs in the forest, does he make a sound…?  Jhciacb

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The Laundry…

Why do I take so many pictures each week, and post them on social media, you may ask…? The answer should be obvious, or even ingrained with the pictures and accompanying words, but allow me to explain…

It’s a practice I began a couple of years ago to (help) offset the negativity, and the forced agenda that goes with social media. By forced agenda, I mean the relentless cramming of hatred, bad ideas, fear, and ignorance down the throats of others, by way of memes, slanted news stories, gossip, outright lies, and inappropriate jokes and pictures.
If my own feed is any indication, this is a battle I’m losing, though I’m still committed to.

To my way of thinking, and I’ll admit I might be wrong, there can only be a few reasons to propagate such negativity on social media:

– To Promote one’s self as intellectually superior to others
– To hurt or shame others
– To change the minds of others
– To win favor with others of similar ilk
– To release the buildup of fears and frustrations growing within

Beyond these, I don’t see any reasons to share negativity on social media. Still, it dominates my feed. I will gladly entertain other reasons if you wish to present them to me, but come prepared…

A friend once said to me…

“What’s the point of having a strong opinion if you can’t cram it down someone’s throat…?”

Sadly, he wasn’t joking.

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Sharing a strong opinion without invitation, is like wiping a dirty diaper across the faces of many others, and all at once. If one’s hope is to clean the smears of crap left by that dirty diaper by wiping another dirty diaper against it, well, that might be a fool’s task.

I’m not suggesting there isn’t any meaning or fulfillment for the people who share and propagate social media negativity. I am suggesting though, that there is little social value in it.

So, I walk daily. I think. I take pictures, and share – all in hopes that helps offset the negativity of social media. Maybe a good thought and good photograph, is just a kind of daily laundry, to help clean up after bad ideas… Jhciacb

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Run River North.  Enjoy….

Everybody Knows My Names…

There are at least 10 of me, probably more. Primarily though, there are 4:

The me interested in the humanities
The me interested in simplicity
The me interested in physical culture
The me interested in music

There are more; the political me, the animal lover me, the sports me, the comedy me, the food me, the justice me, etc., but those first four are my essence.  And what good is having an essence if it can’t be cultivated and shared, or shoved down someone else’s throat…?

That’s why I choose to be all-in on social media, Facebook in particular – because it’s a place where everybody knows my names. Not every person knows every name. My comedy friends know me by my comedy name. My philosophy friends know me by my philosophy name, and so-on.

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In that way, Facebook is like a Denny’s, with a Cheers inside of it. I can enter any time of day, and order whatever I wish off the menu.  However, even within that, after I step inside the larger room, and as I squeeze my way into the smaller rooms within the larger room, people know me even better – they don’t just know my name, they know who I am.

For the physical (my body), there is the material world…
For the ethereal me (my soul), there is the spiritual world…

And though I may have one foot in either of those worlds at any one time, for the thinking me (my brain), social media has become a gathering place, and a creative outlet that has been missing for most of my life.

Today, the thinking me has taken on a leadership role over the physical me and the ethereal me, so social media is where I come to feed it, as well as the dozen or so peripheral me(s).  The trick here, if there is one, is in knowing how to order off the menu – and what to avoid… Jhciacb

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A String And A Million Tin Cans…

After a tumultuous week of social observance, the calls to delete, unplug, keep scrolling, and disconnect are increasing.  These times call for more cat memes, and fewer political posts, maybe…

Too often we forget that the root-word for ignorance is, ignore.  In no way am I suggesting a person is ignorant for the act of avoidance, especially when that avoidance is due to information saturation, notwithstanding the probabilities of ingesting false information.  However, the more we avoid, the less informed we become, even if we don’t like or are overwhelmed by that which we would rather avoid.

It’s easy to suggest that paring down, or disconnecting from social media altogether might be beneficial to one’s mental health, but with social media being the single most used form of communication in the 1st and 2nd worlds, this avoidance can only go so far.  There is still, after all, the media.  Also, there’s the 2nd hand smoke thing – what you don’t see on social media will find you at the water cooler or coffee shop anyway.

When I gave away my car 10 years ago, I did so because I no longer wanted to contribute to what I thought was the biggest disaster in history; manmade climate change.  I felt empowered, and in some ways morally and intellectually superior to Joe Schlepasaurus, for my profound act of avoidance.   Of course, it wasn’t too long before I realized that driving, regardless of its consequences, was part of our social structure, and necessary in the immediacy to keep our societies running.  Driving less – or only when necessary might have been a better response to my concern over climate change.

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One can make that argument with everything to from government, to the use of plastics, to institutionalism, and even alcohol.  Limited is useful, has its place, and can be good for society.  Too much… is bad.

Whether we like it or not, participate in it or not, social media is a part of where we are as a species today, and a major part of how we communicate.  It will evolve into different forms, and lead people in different directions, and continue to influence our social structures.  It will also continue to influence our behaviors, whether we like it or not.  Once this level of mass intercommunication has been reached, like transportation, there is no going back, only a slow evolution of the system.

As to us being the unwitting puppets of social media’s algorithms, what upright doddering hominid hasn’t been influenced by them…?  From scripture, to governance, to journalism, to entertainment, to the algorithms of Instagram, most of our thoughts and behaviors are the result data, agenda, and the people behind them.

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This is where we’re at.  Social media frustrates me as much as governments and freeway interchanges ever have, and yes, that means that on occasion it has caused me to host both murderous and suicidal thoughts.  I don’t act on those thoughts, because the algorithms haven’t brought me there – not yet anyway.

But the upside of social media is phenomenal.  So much of the good, and so many of the remarkable changes taking place in the world today are the result of social media, that it cannot be overlooked as the most useful instrument of change since gunpowder.

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Delete your account.  Scroll on past.  Use it less.  Post a cat meme, I get it.  Global interconnectivity is increasing, it’s inevitable, and social media is, I’ll suggest, is one of the most important tools we will ever have to do good things in the world – even if it frustrates the shit out of us…  Jhciacb

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Gratatouille Part II…

Facebook Games…

Social media can be a fickle bitch. One week it’ll slap me on the back of the head and make me wish I didn’t own a computer at all, while simultaneously wondering why I remain friends with that asshole or moron who writes, believes, or propagates so much of the hatred, nonsense, or ideas unwanted.

Other weeks, social media can bring me nearly to tears, overjoyed with the human connections, ideas, and experiences that reach me through my 17” window to the world and touch me so deeply.

Though I try hard to avoid Facebook trends and games and hope not to drag others into them, this week one caught me by surprise. My friend, Jenny Marie, tagged me to share 3 gratitudes per day for 5 straight days. I have to say this was one of the better experiences I have had on Facebook in a quite a while.

Rather than write my usual essay this week, I thought it would be fun to share my 15 gratitudes here.  This is dedicated to those readers of this blog who are not on Facebook or captives of social media.

Day 1 of my 5 days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Todays’ theme: Family

1) I am grateful for Trudy. Though we are not married any longer, she remains the most important person in my life, alongside the daughter that we share. Her friendship and kindness defy words.

2) I am grateful for my Mark. Being 4 years my senior, my brother has taught me many lessons, and provided much inspiration in my life.

3) I am grateful for my mother, the only woman on earth named Willie. She has always, and I mean (even today) always been there for me.

Mom.  Always there...

Mom. Always there…

Day 2 of 5 my days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Today’s theme: (some of) my near death experiences

1 – You learn a lot when your parachute doesn’t open correctly. Even more when you spend a year housebound recovering from the related spinal injury – oh and there’s a toddler in the house. For all the lessons I learned in that turning point in my life (1993), I am grateful, and can honestly say I haven’t taken too many days for granted since.

2 – You learn a lot when you drink beer for breakfast while camping with your buddies and decide to leave your lawn chair and jump into the top of a Class IV rapid. Of all my near death experiences that one should have killed me. Every bone in my body took an exceptional jolt except for my head. I am grateful for the humility I gained. Another turning point in my life.

Yes.  I actually jumped into this...

Yes. I actually jumped into this…

3 – You learn a lot when you realize there’s a rattlesnake in your car. I learned immediately that the entrance to the King Sooper’s grocery store could accommodate an S10 pickup. Got out, went right to the gardening tools, grabbed a shovel, and killed said snake. Not a single employee questioned me or what I was doing. I am grateful I saw him before it was too late.

 Day 3 of my 5 days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Todays’ theme: Self-deprecation:

1 – I am grateful to all of those who know me, and like me anyway.

2 – I am grateful that I can look at the disappointment of a man that I was 15 years ago, but take comfort knowing that I eventually learn from all of my mistakes.

3 – Mostly today, I am as grateful for my pain as I am for my health so that in the words of Bob Dylan, I can know that I’m really real.

 Day 4 of my 5 days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Todays’ theme: Stroodle

1- The truth is, when he was brought to me 7 years ago as an abused 1-year old, I didn’t want him. My friend and her daughter insisted I take him. I think about that almost every day now – that I didn’t even want him. I am so grateful for said friend, and Stroodle.

2- Every morning while he is still in sleepyhead position (shown), I thank him aloud for the lessons he teaches me daily in humility, unconditional love, and living in the present. I am grateful for this ritual.

3- We walk commando (off leash) 3-4 times per day. I am grateful for the purity and joy I see when he turns back at the end, and sprints to the front door.

My hero, truly...

My hero, truly…

Day 5 of my 5 days of sharing 3 gratitudes. Today’s theme: Humor And Mental Survival

In the last 3 months I have walked away from a successful business, had my bike (my only transportation) stolen, got burned by a couple of clients for some pretty big money, I have moved 3 times and lived for 2 months without a place to call home until this week. I almost got my head taken out by a falling gate arm, and I have seen several good friends going through incredibly difficult times. I have been in dark places myself, fearful and more desperate at times than I would ever let on in social media. Through it all though, I have not lost my sense of humor.

1- I am grateful for my brother who almost singlehandedly cultivated an irreverent sense of humor in me while growing up – to the point that being the class clown was the primary reason I stayed in school as long as I did, though I did eventually release myself on my own recognizance. He taught me abut Franklin Ajaye, George Carlin, and Woody Page.

2- I am grateful for my father who raised me with regular jokes in the car and at the dinner table. They were often horrible, unfunny, or too complicated for me to get, but they were a constant part of my upbringing.

3- I am grateful for all the comedians of this world. A few of them might even read this. As Lewis Black once said, “the only thing that separates us from those who wish to see us all perish, is our sense of humor”.

I could not agree more. Laughter may not always be the best medicine, but it goes down smooth and never leaves me with a hangover.

That’s it.  Fifteen 15 gratitudes in 5 days.  I may just keep this up, even if it means I lose a few social media friends.   Ok, one more: I am grateful for the awareness this has brought to me.   Be well… rc

Please take a moment to scroll up and rate this.  Thank you!

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push to STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Courtney Barnett. Enjoy…

 

About Face… Book

Not real in the real world…

Several years ago, during a dinner discussion that involved the topic of social media, a friend suggested to me that,

“Facebook isn’t the real world”.

Ironically, it was Facebook that had reconnected she and I, and placed us at dinner that evening – after a decade of not seeing one another.   She’s no longer living, though her Facebook page is still quite active.  People post to her memory regularly as though she is actually seeing those posts.  Perhaps she is.  Even if not, maybe this is a modern, more interactive twist on laying flowers at the graveside.

 Changes within…

Several years ago when I realized Facebook had become too large a distraction for my level of discipline, I told another friend I was going to delete my Facebook account.  I had every intention of doing it that night.  When I explained this to her, she responded with,

“Please don’t!  You spice up my feed”.

My ego got the better of me, and that lone comment kept me from deleting my account.  I look back at that decision with regret, and as a pivotal point in my recent life.

That friend and I bantered quite a bit on Facebook early on, but we eventually went our separate ways, and are no longer in communication with one another.  And here I am three years later having invested far too much time into something with far too little return.

It’s all about Roy…

Rather than focus on editing my book, walking my dog, reading, or asking my elderly neighbor to sit by my fire pit and chat, I spend countless hours with my eyes fixed to a 17” window to the world, all for the instant gratification of a like, a comment, or the mindless amusement of a cat playing a xylophone.

When I ask myself why I post things on Facebook, why I comment, or which friend’s posts I choose to comment on, the only honest answer I can give must be reduced to some combination of the following:

–          To impress others

–          To seek the respect of others

–          To be perceived as knowledgeable or intelligent relative to a subject

–          To please others

–          To experience instant gratification during an otherwise tedious moment in my life

–          To demonstrate my senses of humor

–          To share something I feel others might enjoy, or benefit from

There are probably a few more reasons which branch off of these, but I believe these to be primary.  That last one though, to share something I feel others might enjoy, or benefit from, is the only reason that has legitimized Facebook for me.

Friends with benefits…

There are positive reasons to use Facebook.  Among them are connecting with likeminded people I would not otherwise have access to at a given moment.  I love that I can have a conversation with friends around the world about music, philosophy, or whether or not there is such a thing as clutch hitting in professional baseball.  Facebook, in a sense, is a global campfire.

Facebook; like a global campfire..

Facebook; like a global campfire…

It’s hard though, to distill the good conversations, from the bad.  That is where I struggle the most – in facing the relentless political and religious thrusting of opinions and positions at my psyche which is not looking for such information.  I have come to despise those moments for their ability to ruin other moments.  I tend to increasingly begrudge those who force that negativity upon me.  Even the topic of fitness, which is both my passion, and my livelihood, has been bastardized and abused by social media to the point where I have come to hate the ideal of fitness.

Because of this I recently deactivated my Facebook page, with one possible outcome being that I would never return to it.

Where’s Jhciacb…?

When I deactivate my account, roughly 20 people out of the 300 or so friends I have reached out to me by email or by text to find out if I had unfriended them.  It had not occurred to them that maybe I was taking a break, or perhaps unfriending myself from a time bandit with a greater downside than upside.  One at a time, I assured those who were truly concerned that no unfriending was done in the course of my absence.  I simply needed a break.

I’m single, I live alone, and I don’t own a television.  Facebook had become a large part of my social and entertainment life.  Feeling like I was missing something, I thought about bringing Facebook back, but I vowed to disconnect for at least one month.  If you are reading this by way of Facebook, then you know I lasted exactly 3 weeks.  I’m good with that.

What I missed most…

Like any form of entertainment or any tool, what one gets out of something is relative to what one puts into it.  I have always struggled with the blurry lines in life.  I believe the medical term for that is, being Jewish.

Sunday mornings.  Waking up with hot coffee under the cool pacific marine layer.  Sitting on my back porch with my laptop on my lap top, and my dog at my feet.  With the slight electric sound of Cowboy Junkies framing the mood, and with my view to the creek and the egrets in the immediate foreground, I get to share that very scene, some level of fun, and some amusement with 300 or people, many whom I have come to truly appreciate.

Sunday morning on the porch the best part of my week...

Sunday morning on the porch; the best part of my week…

Those Sunday mornings are among the best, most calm moments of my week.  I look forward to them.  I enjoy trading jokes with my brother, and our friends in the Midwest.  I may get to discover some new music.  I see some interesting photographs which might make me smile, or fill me with awe.  For those reasons, and a few others, I won’t turn my back on Facebook – yet.  I will though, use it less, and manipulate out of the picture, anyone willing to spew hatred as a means of pleasuring their own narrow mind.  Be well…  rc

Canyon Lands, Utah.  Photo credit: Lance Jones

Canyon Lands, Utah. Photo credit: Lance Jones

citrus

Macadamias, and citrus. Photo credit, DL Heaton

Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from David Lindley, and GE Smith.  Enjoy…

Toxicity, people, and how I cope: The nutshell version…

Every morning I wake up and allow myself to be punched right in my psyche, hit by the negativity of some people in my online community.  Not only do I allow this, I set myself up for it.  With each fresh morning I open my 17” LCD window to the world, and allow myself be soiled by people I call friend.

Soon after, I begin asking myself, why do I do this…?  Why do I grant access into my consciousness, to toxic personalities pushing such heavy loads…?  It can sadden me, depress me, influence the direction of my day, and can change my perspective of life – all by 6:00 a.m.  Still, I do it day after day.

Gasses spew, but I am prepared...

Gasses spew, but I am prepared…

I know who I am.  I know who I wish to be.  I try to be who I really am as often as I can, though many times throughout the day I ignore my compass and allow myself to drift.  I find myself led off course by my own fears, and by the influence I allow others to have over those fears.  I work hard though, to stay centered and on track, and I guess I do a fair job of it.

When I attempt to answer my own question, about why I allow the negativity of others into my life, and why I keep those people there, the answers are complicated.  I guess I see it this way:  That the universe has brought those people into my life to begin with, and there is no denying they exist within my life, so they must be there for a reason(s).

They become my external friend first, but in time can become my internal enemy – but that’s on me, not on them.  I do little to dissuade their toxicity and negative energy.  I simply ignore it, and store it.  I do very little online arguing since I have seen nothing good ever come of this.  I have my opinions, others have theirs.

I ask myself: Are these people in my life to test me, to teach me, to hurt me, or to offend me…?  Not sure.  Mostly I think they are in my life to ground me – to remind me of who I am, who I am not, and who I might turn out to be, relative of course, to who I hope to turn out to be.

I think people who exhibit single-mindedness, who spew hatred, who can argue without ever listening, and who use social media as their outlet are speaking from a place of fragility and fear so deep that they themselves may not even know it’s there.  In that sense I feel for them – that they are so damaged they may not even know they are damaged, or why.  At least I know where my damage comes from.

I try hard not to judge people for these behaviors, as I hope I am not judged by others for the simple act of being myself.

At the end of the day I believe in an absolute universal oneness.  I genuinely believe that we are all interconnected — that everyone else is me, and I am them.  Maybe not in this life, but in the life next door, in the life down the road, or in the life I will live three lives from now.

I take it all with a grain.  I meditate to keep myself centered.  I exercise to keep my head clear.  I write to honor my creative gift.  I also listen without judgment because the voice coming my way might be my own voice someday, or may have already been.  Wishing you peace this day…  rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.
Oh, and there is this by Sweden’s Hellsingland Underground.    Enjoy…