The Psychology of the Super Sports Fan

Sports are an institution in America today. If you are a male, you are almost required to be a sports fan. I’ve seen numerous males attempt to escape this fact of life in America, but I’ve seen very few pull it off. Those who are able to escape this super sport fan requirement deserve a hat-tip, in some ways, because they don’t have to endure the pain and sorrow watching sports can inflict on a person. It’s too late for me. I’ve had too many teams disappoint me to ever enjoy it in the manner we all should when watching sports. We super sports fans are now at a point where we almost hate sports as much as we love it, but we’ve found no cure for our ailment other than more sports and other disappointments that help us forget the past ones.

In 2012, The Atlanta Falcons won their first playoff game in four years of unsuccessful attempts. As a fanatic Falcons fan, I’m prepared for the discussions that will follow. I know that the discussions will involve attacks that I’ll deem personal, as a result of my life-long affiliation with this team. If they lose in the next three weeks, I will be guilty by association. If they win, I will be permitted a temporary amount of basking, but I will soon have to reconfigure my psychology in preparation for the next game, and the next season. A super fan’s job is never over.

Falcon fan face painterImmersing one’s self in the world of sports’ super fandom can be stressful, for a super fan is required to be unsatisfied with their team’s progress, regardless how well they do. A super fan is never happy. A casual sports fan can enjoy a good tussle between two opponents, measuring one another’s physical abilities, but a super fan doesn’t enjoy a good game that involves their team, unless their team blows the other team out. Close games are stressful, and they suggest an obvious deficiency in their team that must be rectified before the next game. Unadulterated blowouts confirm superiority.

A coach says they’re not satisfied with their team’s accomplishments, and the team’s players echo this sentiment. The two factions echo this sentiment so many times that super fans have now incorporated it into their lexicon. I can understand a player, or a coach, issuing such statements, for they are always on trial, they are always pushing themselves to be better today than they were yesterday. It’s the very essence of sports for the participants to be unsatisfied. Why does this mentality also have to exist for those who aren’t participants, but spectators? A super sports fan doesn’t question why they have this mentality, they just have it.

Most normal people regard watching sports as a frivolity, a conversation piece to engage in with friends and family. To them, sporting events provide a simple event, or an excuse, to get together with friends and family. And for these people, sports is little more than background noise that cover the lulls that may occur at get-togethers. They may keep up on some sport’s headlines, but they often do so to engage in superficial, meaningless conversations. They also use what little knowledge they have to needle the obnoxious diehards on their team’s loss.

There’s nothing wrong with this needling on the surface. Needling is what super sports fans do to one another, but in the world of super sports fans everyone has something on the line. When you mock a super sports fan’s team, you had better be ready to take as well as you give for a super sports fan will often come back ten times as hard. It’s as much a part of the super sports fan culture as watching the sport itself. For the non-sports fan, for whom sports is but a casual conversation piece, needling a super sports fan is revenge for all the years that super sports fans have ridiculed them for being non-sports fans, or if they haven’t been ridiculed, they have at least been ostracized from the all the conversations that revolve around sports, and they’ve built up some resentment for sports fans that comes out in these needling sessions. It also gives them great joy, when the conversation turns back on them, and the super fan says, “Who’s your favorite team?” that they don’t have one. The fact that they don’t have one gives them an immunity card against reprisals. It’s what they’ve dreamed of dating back to their pre-pubescent days when their peers ridiculed them for preferring Star Wars and Legos to sports.

In the world of the super fan, it is seen as a testament to their character that they remain unsatisfied with their team’s performance? Even a fan of a traditional doormat, such as the Atlanta Falcons, is informed that the best record in the regular season should mean nothing to them, and their first playoff victory in almost a decade should mean nothing to them. You want that ring. If we’re in any way happy with the progress they’ve made, we’re satisfied, and being satisfied equates to being weak, and soft, and everyone around us knows this, and they won’t have much time for us if we don’t demand perfection of your team.

I once heard that the reason the Chicago Cubs are perennial losers is that their fan base will turn out regardless how they perform. I’ve heard it said that they’re more concerned with beer than baseball, and that they enjoy the confines of Wrigley Field more than they do a winner. There is a certain amount of sense in this when one considers the actual attendance figures in Wrigley Field, of course, but are they saying that a Cubs’ General Manager is apt to forego a prized free agent signing, because he knows that the fans will show up anyway? Is a manager going to inform the organization that he is not going to call up a star prospect, because he knows that the fans will show up regardless if the team is better or not? Their job is on the line every year. Get in the playoffs or get out is the motto in most of professional sports, and I dare say this is no different in Chicago regardless of their team’s ‘lovable loser’ tradition.

The radio show host who said this about the Cubs was making a general point that there isn’t the sense of urgency in the Cubs organization that there is in the Yankee organization. Yankee fans are adamant that their team win the World Series every year, and they’re quite vocal with their displeasure when the organization puts anything less than a championship team on the field. I can’t say that this is without merit, but should this same requirement be made of the fan sitting in a bar discussing sports with a fellow super fan? Why is it elemental to the respect of his peers that the super fan maintain an unsatisfied persona to maintain the respect of his super fan friends?

Super fans who have listened to sports talk radio for far too long, have had it pounded into our head that there’s no glory in meaningless victories … if you don’t have that ring. If you were a Buffalo Bills fan, in the 90’s, and you were happy with an appearance in the Super Bowl for four straight years, you were soft, because those teams lost all of those Super Bowls. The super fan would’ve preferred that the Bills failed to make it to the playoffs in the face of all that losing. That was embarrassing. The Bills proved to be historic choke artists. Nothing more. It didn’t matter to the superfan that they were able to do something unprecedented when they made it to the Super Bowl after three consecutive losses. They lost the fourth one too! Bunch of choke artists is what they were.

Did it matter to anyone that the Atlanta Braves made it to the playoffs fourteen consecutive years in a span that stretched from the 90’s to the 00’s? It didn’t to the super fan. They grew tired of all that losing. Did it matter to the super fan that they made the NLCS nine out of ten years? It did not. Did it matter that they made it to the World Series in five of those years? If you’re a loser it did. They won one World Series throughout this stretch, and the super fan remained unsatisfied throughout.

“No one remembers the team that lost in the championship.” “One team wins, and the other team chokes.” These are some of the most common tropes of the language of the super fan that you’ll have to adopt, if you ever hope to garner the type of respect necessary to sit with super fans in bars discussing sports.

If our team loses, but we’re satisfied just to be there, that says something about our character. In these conversations, we are our team, and our team is us. If such conversations make us uncomfortable, the best way for us to retain our identity will be to distance yourself from our team by informing our friends that we disagreed with a move or a decision that they made, but often times this is not enough to leave us unscathed. Regardless what we say, we cannot avoid having them consider us a choke artist based on the fact that our team “choked” in the championship. We could switch teams, of course, but that is what super fans call a fair weather fan, and a fair weather fan is the lowest form of life in the world of super fandom, save for the needling non-fan. Our best bet is to just sit there and take it. Our friends will enjoy that a lot less than our struggle to stick up for our team.

Even if our team wins it all, we super fans will have no glory. We’re never satisfied, and winning it all for one year, just means that our concentration flips to next year. We don’t just want a championship, we want a dynasty. The true fan is the superfan, always seeking definition of their character through constant calls for perfection. Even if their team wins a championship, they didn’t win by much. Our team should’ve slaughtered that bunch. There is room for improvement, and we’ll scour the draft pool and the free agent list, to find that perfect component for next year’s run. If our team doesn’t do what we think they should do, we gain some distance by proclaiming that the team doesn’t know what they’re doing. We know this because we’re super fans, but most of us have never played the game, or had to deal with team play, salary caps, or prima donnas who generate excellent stats with no regard for the team.

The one thing that every fan, and every super fan, should be required to recite before every game is “You’re just a fan”. I don’t care if you wear your hat inside out and backwards, you sit on half a cheek for a week, and you don’t speak of your team’s progress for fear of jinxing them, you’re just a fan. I don’t care if you have seven different jerseys for the seven days of the week, that you paint your face, or brave the cold and go shirtless. You’re just a fan. You’re no more instrumental in the way they play the game than the guy at the end of the bar who doesn’t care for sports. So, does this line of thought make it any easier to be a super fan? It does not, because as a super fan, we know that our reputation is on the line every time your team takes the field, court, diamond, or rink. We know that our friends are just dying to call our team (i.e. you) a loser, a choke-artist, and that can make it super stressful to be a super fan.

Indigo Children: The Next Step in Human Evolution

Is your child special? Have you ever looked deep into their eyes and walked away thinking that there was something special about them? Really special? Do they exhibit traits that you consider so beautiful they might be otherworldly special? Do they express a degree of intelligence that you consider unfathomable? Are your children different and special? Do they do things that are different and abnormal? Do they have problems getting along with children their age? Have you ever considered the idea that you may have an Indigo Child?

Indigo Children learn that they are different at a young age, and most of them believe it with enough persuasion. Some Indigo Children claim to have invisible friends, they say that they see dead people, and they have inter-spatial relationships with inanimate objects like products from their Great Grandmothers, teddy bears, and rubber duckies.

Experts in this field suggest that Indigo Children have a different aura about them, a special, blue aura. Experts claim that Indigo Children see the auras of other kids and adults who surround them. Indigos struggle with the belief that they are normal, because they have experiences that appear to be normal, but they aren’t, and they know it, because their parents, teachers, and psychotherapists tell them so.

Indigo Children, we are informed, are the next step in human evolution, and they came into being, according to CNN reporter Gary Tuchman, following the great Harmonic Convergence of 1978{1}. This Great Harmonic Convergence was an important and celebrated New Age event that many link to the completion of our sun’s 26,000-year orbital cycle around the Pleiades star system and the alignment of our winter solstice with the Galactic Center/Hunab Ku. Many also suggest that this transitional period is reflected in the shift of astrological ages from Pisces to Aquarius.

As is the case with any story of this nature, a little fact checking is necessary. The second entry in a Google search performed on the term “Harmonic Convergence” shows that this “first, great synchronized, global meditation”, announced by Jose Arguelles, occurred between August 16th and 17th in 1987. There appears to be a discrepancy in the dates between this Harmonic Convergence and the next step in human evolution we call Indigo, but this discrepancy is explained by a “crop circle” bridge. Either Gary Tuchman didn’t know of the first reported appearance of a crop circle that occurred in 1978, and the manner in which it bridged the gap between the great Harmonic Convergence and the Indigo evolution, or he didn’t report it. Whatever the case, it appears that the first reported “Consciousness Crop Circles of the New Earth” bridged the progressive gap from The Great Convergence to the Indigo evolution, as referenced in archived data provided by the good people at Crop Circle Connector. {2}

Crop circles have become a joke in some quarters, as most of the crop circles that appeared in the past decades were later declared man-made, but others are of unknown origins. Many believe that the non-man-made crop circles are being impressed upon earth’s grain fields by extraterrestrial, or inter-dimensional intelligences, for the sole purpose of activating dormant sections of human DNA to catalyze the spiritual evolution of the species we call Indigo.{3}

Any who doubt there was a progression from the first reported “Consciousness Crop Circles of the New Earth” to the “Great Harmonic Convergence” and Indigo Children, need look to the numbers. Between the first, reported crop circles in 1978 to the Harmonic Convergence in 1987, there were only forty-nine crop circles reported, for a low average of near ten a year. Following the Great Harmonic Convergence to the last reported crop circle on, in 2010, there were 3,281 crop circles cited, for an average of 149 reports a year. So while Gary Tuchman’s report on the actual date of The Great Harmonic Convergence may be a little off, it all ties in together with the escalation of crop circle reports, and the emergence, and progression, of the next step in human evolution, otherwise known as Indigo Children.

Another parallel theory on Indigo Children, states that the Indigo Children theory was based on concepts developed in the 1970s by Nancy Ann Tappe, and further developed by Jan Tober and Lee Carroll. The concepts involved in this theory gained popular interest with the publication of a series of books in the late 1990s and the release of several films in the following decade. The interpretations of these beliefs range from Indigoes being the next stage in human evolution, in some cases possessing paranormal abilities such as telepathy, to the belief that they may be evolved creatures that are more empathetic and creative than their peer group.

Indigo Children are said to be children with blessed with higher I.Q.s, in some quarters, that have a heightened intuition, psychic powers, and an ability to see dead people. Some also say they are hard-wired into a sort of supernatural highway. Indigos tend to be rebellious children who may be hypersensitive, but they have been known to display a generosity that allows them to share their special gifts with others. There are even some psychotherapists, like Julie Rosenshine, who have chosen to specialize in specific dealings with the special needs of Indigo Children.

Indigo children display indigo colored energy fields, or auras, about them that some state they can capture in photographs with an aura sensitive camera. Aura camera specialist Nancy Stevens says she can capture such auras on her aura sensitive camera. She says that the auras captured by her camera locate “your physical energy, your emotional energy, and perhaps most important your spiritual energy in photographs.” Manufacturers did not create Aura sensitive cameras with the specific intention of detecting Indigo Children, however, as they also have the ability to give those struggling with their identity insight into whom they are. They can detail for you any strengths or weaknesses you may have, and they can capture some of the challenges you may go through in life.

Such cameras have been able to capture auras of Indigo Children in their natural state, and this has led numerous children to finding out that they are an Indigo Child. This, in turn, has led to less depression in some, to doing better in school, and to performing better in social arenas in areas where they may have felt disoriented about their placement. It has also led them to being more comfortable with their identity, in that they no longer feel like outsiders in life, cursed with the feelings of being different.

Skeptics have said that these children may, in fact, be suffering from an overactive imagination, and that they may also be victims of an ADD, ADHD, or any number of operational defiant disorders. Labeling them as Indigo Children, these skeptics further may assist these kids in having a stronger ego and better self-esteem with such positive, spiritual, and unique labels attached to them, but it may also mask a disorder that requires treatment, through counseling or pharmaceuticals.

Skeptics have also stated that promotion of the idea of Indigo Children might provide unqualified people a way to make money from credulous parents through the sales of related products and services. Mental health experts are concerned that labeling a disruptive child an “Indigo” may delay proper diagnosis and treatment that could help the child. Others have stated that many of the traits of Indigo Children are open to interpretation that provides a more prosaic climate as simple unruliness and alertness. {4} One gastroenterologist has even claimed that the sensitivity that these Indigo Children have may be because of heightened food sensitivities. Parents disavow all such attempts to mislabel their children on the basis that they’ve “seen too many things.”

Some have speculated that a mere 3% of the world’s population may be Indigo Children, but that that 3% are advanced beyond their years, and that they are hyper-sensitive to things in their environment. Indigo Children tend to have a higher I.Q. than most children do, but it isn’t clear whether the evidence for this is anecdotal. Indigo Children do not lay claim to the idea that they know more about concretized facts in History, Math, the Sciences, or any other quantifiable precepts of human knowledge, but that they are smarter about that aspect of the human experience that occurs between the lines, or on the supernatural highway. Those who make such claims declare that Indigos are able to tune into something different and in some cases higher realm of thought patterns that are out of the realm of normal thought patterns.

The unquantifiable intelligence they use to see another’s aura allows them to predict the future, or learn things about you that you might not otherwise want known. Parents of these unique children use the words paranormal intelligence to describe their children’s gifts. They are special children, but they don’t enjoy the term abnormal. They want to play, and run, and build sand castles just like any child, so please don’t ask them to predict the outcome of boxing matches or the rise and fall of the Dow Jones Industrial rate.

Are your children Indigo Children? If you’re curious, you can seek out a number of sources on the net that define Indigo Children. At last check, there were 4,920,000 results on the search engine. The one qualifier that the curious should take into account before pursuing this information, however, is an observation called the Forer Effect.

The Forer Effect (also called the Barnum Effect after P.T. Barnum’s observation that “we’ve got something for everyone”) is the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions tailored to their personality, but are in fact vague and general enough to be assigned to a wide range of people. This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, graphology, and some types of personality tests. {5}

Descriptions of Indigo Children from the net include:

  • the belief that they (Indigo Children) are empathetic, curious, strong-willed, independent, and often perceived by friends and family as being strange;
  • they possess a clear sense of self-definition and purpose;
  • they exhibit a strong innate sub-conscious spirituality from early childhood (which, however, does not necessarily imply a direct interest in spiritual or religious areas);
  • they have a strong feeling of entitlement, or “deserving to be here.”

Other alleged traits include:

  • a high intelligence quotient (I.Q.), an inherent intuitive ability; and
  • a resistance to rigid, control-based paradigms of authority*.

According to Tober and Carroll, Indigo Children may not function well in conventional schools due to their rejection of rigid authority*, being smarter (or of a more spiritual mature) than their teachers, and a lack of response to guilt-, fear- or manipulation-based discipline.

*We list the idea that Indigo Children reject rigid authority with an asterisk to provide the explanation: “Presumed to be related to the fact that their parents’ reject the rigid authority figures that might categorize their children as normal, under-achieving young ones that may otherwise provide consternation to their parents.”

As a future parent, I can attest to the fact that I, too, want to have a perfect child. I want my child to soar high above the levels kids his age achieve in every category designed by men and women that rate my child’s various abilities, and when he doesn’t I don’t want to blame myself for insufficient parenting. I also don’t want to blame my child, in an unnecessary way, for being lazy, rebellious, head strong, or so smart that the schools I send him to dumb down their learning exercises for the dumbest kids in the class to a point that my kid gets bored and acts out.

I’ll also want to tell any that challenge my ability to raise my child, that they cannot hold my child to normal standards, because he’s different. He suffers from a clinical case of ADD, ADHD, that he is an Indigo Child, or that he has had some sort of paranormal experience that has hampered his ability to learn at the same rate theirs has. I will also tell these detractors that my child’s difficulties have nothing to do with me, because I am one heck of a good guy. I’ll know that I’ve tried my damndest, even if I haven’t. Even if some teacher, or parent, tells me that it might be possible that I may have made some mistake, somewhere along the line, I’ll reject that, because (again) I’ll know that I’m one heck of a good guy. I’ll also know that there is always going to be some sort of scientist out there, somewhere that can explain to me why my child is having some sort of difficulty. As I run out of money trying to find explanations for it, I know I’ll run into some guy, some doctor, or some pseudoscientist or psychotherapist that has some sort of Forer Effect to explain it, since it cannot be “explained” to me to my satisfaction by “normal” measures.

We love our kids so much, and they’re so cute and funny, that we cannot accept the fact that there’s something wrong with them, even if there isn’t, and if our kids just aren’t able to meet our expectations in the manner we require. We give tangible love to our kids by doing something to help them, even if they don’t need anything. We want to do that something that someone should’ve done for us to put us on an equal level with our peer group, and to assist them through life, but some of the times the best course of action to take is to do nothing. It may go against every parental instinct we have, but it might be the best thing we ever did for our children.


In his book: Late Talkers: What to do if your child isn’t Talking Yet, Thomas Sowell states that there are some children that need to be tested. “Silence may be a sign of a hearing loss or a neurological disorder, and that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.” He also adds, “There can be negative consequences to endless evaluations and needless testing.” As a father of a late-talker Sowell notes that some parents may want to adopt a “wait and see”, approach for not all late-talkers occur because of a lack of intelligence. This, he states, is best displayed by the fact that one of the greatest minds of all time, Albert Einstein, did not speak until he was three years old.{6}

Most parents are frustrated that their children haven’t escalated to the top of the class soon enough; they are frustrated that their kids haven’t displayed the athletic prowess that they believed their children would; and they tend to grow frustrated that their offspring hasn’t yet developed the ability to stand out in the manner their friends’ have. We vie for some sort of validation, vindication, or explanation regarding why their children aren’t regarded as special in the quantifiable manner that they believe they should be. Is there some sort of frontal lobe damage that they’ve attained from the swing set accident they had when they were three? Was there damage done to them in the birthing process, or the inoculations they received from the hospital before dismissal? Are they Indigo Children, or do they have ADD, ADHD, or some other operational defiant disorder? We need something that relieves us of the guilt of having a child we define as insufficient, strange, or in all other ways difficult. We need a diagnosis, so we can begin treatment, and in some cases we don’t care how bizarre that diagnosis is, because nothing the doctor, the teacher, or the theories of our fellow parents have worked yet. There is help out there, and if the internet has proven nothing else it has shown that it can provide “something for everyone”.







Total Alien Superiority: The New Religion

What would you do if you scratched an itch on the back of your neck, and your hand came back with a tiny screaming alien on it?  What would you do if another alien, perched on the opposite shoulder, said: “Quit living your life in preparation of disaster!”

alienSome of those that have witnessed the “progressions” of our society away from traditional, organized religion to Zen Buddhism and beyond, suggest that some sort of progression is inevitable.  Will we ever reach a point where we are worshiping aliens from outer space?  We don’t know, but some have speculated that time-honored traditions, such as the Zen Buddhist’s bird on the shoulder will be replaced by “progressive” symbols for the progressed mind.  Will it ever be that aliens sit on our shoulder, as opposed to birds, that remind us that death is inevitable and unpredictable?

birdThe bird taught us that while some see death as a sad and sorrowful event, others treat the reminder of death that this bird provides, and eventually the alien, as a reason to live.  The alien will be a constant reminder that you’re delusional about your abilities, your likes and dislikes, and anything that you feel makes you an individual. The Alien will remind you that you are merely a product of sophisticated ad campaigns, TV and movie rhetoric, and peer pressure.  You may believe that you are a product of individualistic, free world choices that you have made throughout your life based upon research, knowledge, and free will.  You may believe that you sit atop the hierarchal pyramid of humans that laugh at those delusional humans who are susceptible to marketing campaigns, but you’re not, and the new-age aliens from outer space will remind you that you’re as susceptible to all of this as the know-nothing, follow the crowd guy that you mock in the course of your day.  You may think you’re above the fray, and that you’re not susceptible to all that is preached in our society, but everyone thinks that.  We’ve all become frayed in the same way.  The Alien on your shoulder is there to remind you that you are a nothing more than a member of the pack, the hive, or the crowd of people that think like you do, and it is your new vocation to listen to this alien and learn a little bit about yourself from its interpretation of the collective mind.

This alien may eventually become a “Zod” in your life, but you must remember that he is only perched on your shoulder to advise.  You will remain free to accept or reject his advice with the knowledge that you have made these decisions of your own accord, and any consequences of your actions, based on his advice, are all yours.

One of your fellow humans said it is far easier to entertain than it is to educate, but your alien will try to combine the two in a daring attempt to keep your interest while educating you about you and the world around you.

I now introduce you to the alien on your shoulder.

“Quit living your life in preparation of disaster!” is the first piece of advice that the alien will provide you when you are shocked to learn of his existence.  His sudden appearance, and his entire existence, will be predicated on the collective ideal that God is dead.  The emergence of these aliens, and their deification, will be predicated on a societal progression away from traditional religion, into secularism, and eventually into a belief in anything that will not be far away when the mother ship lands in Lebanon, Kansas, a place chosen for its geographical location in the center of the United States.

At this point in history, an individual that builds a shrine to aliens from outer space is currently looked down upon as an outlier in society, but how far are we away from Total Alien Superiority (TAS) in our search for belief in something?  It will be, “as it always was”  when we reach TAS that the aliens will begin making their appearance on our collective shoulders to hit us with this first piece of advice.

Once the alien makes its appearance, and the evolution to TAS is complete, alien relics will begin replacing the current more traditional, spiritual relics in our homes, churches, and synagogues, and we will most likely develop some form of hierarchy, such as the one portrayed in Superman II.  We will have a Zod, in other words, that we pay homage to, that we sacrifice for, and that we direct the purpose of our daily lives towards.  For the purpose of clarity and consistency, we will refer to the ultimate deity of TAS as Zod in this conversation, since we cannot know what the evolved human of the future will call their god.

Any religion worthy of attaining followers also has their non-believers and heretics, and TAS will be no exception.  The heretics will suggest that TAS is an extreme reach by those that cling to traditional structures and religions norms. Those that suggest such notions are foolish are, themselves, not well-schooled in the field of neurology, for there are numerous findings documented in periodicals such as Psychology Today, and Scientific American Mind, that suggest that the human brain is hard wired to a belief in something, and as our society progresses toward the ridicule of the belief, and worship, of God, we will eventually need to find something to replace Him.  Our brains need a belief in something greater than us, in a manner similar to the way stomachs need food, and if we have no spiritual guidance we will feel a cerebral emptiness and purposeless that needs to be quenched in an anatomical sense equivalent to manner in which water quenches thirst and food quenches hunger.  Human beings need spiritual nourishment in other words, and we will look to any source we can find for that nourishment once God is truly dead in our society.

The quasi-religion that is currently helping us bridge the gap to the eventual progression to TAS is Zen Buddhism.  It is the current, most prominent quasi-religion for those seeking relief from the societal scorn of being religious, and the judgmental rules of a religion, while still feeding the need for belief.

As humans evolve past a deity, and eventually past the Zen Buddhist bird, we will evolve to (TAS).  We will also evolve past the pressure that the bird places on us to live each day to the fullest to one that involves a stress free life without expectations.  We will also evolve our deities past the idea of death to the idea that life can be free of the threat of death if one learns how to live properly.  This deity will not be judgmental, and the eventual, evolved human being will follow suit.  The “Zod” of the alien culture will speak of a life free of money, death, the stress and pressure of living life to the fullest, and it will eventually evolve us back to our metaphysical, primal beginnings where we were once at one with God –now replaced by Zod– equal with Him in a manner only the truly devoted will understand. We will also live the harmonious, drug-induced life depicted in Star Trek’s “The Way to Eden” episode. We don’t know if our women will speak in soft, sensuous whispers in the manner they did in that episode, or if our men will say “man” as a conjunction to break up a sentence and “Daddy-O” to punctuate it, but if Gene Roddenberry proves to be the excellent prognosticator he has been thus far, it’s likely.

The Surreal Stillness of the Night

A strange part of me came to life in the surreal stillness of the nights I spent trying to sleep in strange places. It wasn’t born in one night of my youth, or in one morning after, but it occurred over the course of decades of insomnia nights spent in other people’s homes. I was never one who could just sleep anywhere. I had to have my pillow, my blankets, my room temperature, my environment, and my comfort level. Yet, when someone would invite me for a sleepover, I would jump at the chance. 

midnightI loved spending the night at other people’s homes, but I could never sleep there. I loved the days I spent with friends, and I loved the nights. I loved sitting around telling ghost stories, talking about football and girls, and hating on the teach, but I dreaded the moment their Mom would step in the room and say, Okay, it’s time for bed now guys.” I knew I would be forced to lie there, still, and silent, looking at their furniture, the ceiling splotches, and their trinkets. I knew there would be nothing to do, other than finding sleep. I knew I would envying my friends for their ability to sleep, and I knew their trinkets would come to life, but I had no idea that a strange part of me would come to life as a result.

When a kid is at another person’s house in those after midnight hours, they can’t just flip on the tube, run outside to check out the various comings and goings of the neighborhood, or snoop through their stuff. Doing any of these things will be regarded as incredibly impolite. If the kid is a normal kid, and the only reason they’re invited to stay over is based on the idea that they’re normal, they learn to lie there quietly and just hope that the dream world will eventually take them. If they’re anything like me, it never does, because they can’t sleep in strange places. They’re trapped in their bed, inside their head, in a cell called insomnia.

Trinkets have little-to-no value to anyone during the day. They had no value to me either, during the day. They were something on a table. They were a Civil War-era cannon placed in the middle of a living room table? They were small items that said funny or wise things on them. There was a reason that they were selected, but I could never understand what those reasons were. I never understood how a person selected one trinket over another. Do they depict the person we are, or the person we want to be? Some of them are funny, as I said, but they’re not too funny. Too funny can make a person seem simple. If there was a grand design my friend’s parent’s had in mind when they chose the trinkets, I didn’t know what it was, and I spent hours trying to figure it out.  

My life had no grand design, but I was a kid. I lived day to day, but I thought everything an adult did had some kind of grand design to it, and I thought their trinkets reflected that. On the rare occasion when I knew the adults well enough to ask them about the agenda they had in selecting their trinkets, I was often disappointed. “I just like it is all,” was the crux of their response. Most of them would see my disappointment and look at me strangely. Hey, you bought them, I wanted to say. I wanted to tell them that they should have some sort of agenda, that led to their preferences. Life shouldn’t be so random that one just buys a cute, little ceramic frog, because it’s cute and little and ceramic. That’s chaos. Trinkets should speak to your personality, your narrative. I don’t have an agenda now, I would think, but I’m a kid. You should’ve figured something out about life that you could teach me. So, you’re saying that these things are just taking up space, so your coffee table isn’t bare. Is this why you have fruit and flower paintings on the wall, because you hate empty spaces? Or, is your life devoid of meaning? I don’t mean to sound condescending, but you have to give me something here! No matter what your friend’s parents say, all of these trinkets take on a special meaning in the surreal stillness of the night when you’re the only conscious person politely enduring the hours of silence and stillness.

There was a band member with a ten foot drum tied to his waist sitting on one of my friend’s nightstands. The band member had a broad smile on his face that suggested that he was very proud of the station he had achieved in life. There was a panda bear, on the other nightstand that had an arm sticking out for someone to put keys or a watch on. There was a small, replica cannon that one could roll around on a coffee table. What went into these choices, I would wonder to myself. I knew they would say it was nothing, but there had to be some reason that they chose these trinkets to decorate their living room. There had to be something meaningful that I could discern from these otherwise, mundane products.

A clock had grand embroidering on its flanks. It took the shape of a starfish with incongruity in its flanks. I remember wondering if it would be seen as classy among the elite interior design consultants. It had bland, black colors on its flanks with a silver middle, but the interior design elites often complimented that which was bland. The experts often insulted that which stood out with bright colorization. They called that loud. I remember wondering if anyone would stare up at this clock and say: “Now that’s a clock.” Whatever value it may have had during the day was exaggerated throughout the never-ending nights I spent staring up at it.

A horse was depicted raised up on its haunches, and the man on the horse was drawn back. I don’t know if it was General Custer, but that was the image often associated with Custer. I remember wondering if anyone ever talked about this piece. Did anyone ever pick it up, and examine it, and talk about it? Did it have any value beyond taking up space?

That’s what trinkets are I decided on one of these sleepless nights: objects designed for the sole purpose of taking up space. As the hours passed, and my delirium weakened me, I began to assign feelings to these trinkets. I saw them as lonely objects in need of attention. When the day returns, I promised myself, I would assign some sort of value to them. I would pay attention to them when no one else would. I would ask their owners about them, and I considered the idea that these questions might console the trinkets into believing that they had some value.

I would play and replay these conversations in my mind. I would provide my listener with better retorts. The retorts I gave them, during the day, proved insufficient. I would watch them laugh at these new retorts. I would rewrite their impressions of me, based on these new retorts. 

I would then drift into other conversations that occurred on other days. I would remember my responses to things said, and some of the times I would cringe. I would correct those conversations the next time I saw that person. I thought of the perfect responses that would lay out those who sought to damage my image. Some of the times, I would accidentally laugh aloud when I would recall those heroic moments when I cracked a real zinger off. I would look at my friend to make sure he was still asleep, and then I would remember how everybody laughed, and I would think of them considering my comedic value. I would accidentally laugh aloud again.

As the hours stretched on, and my stress level and delirium began battling for dominance, I would picture how mouths moved when people spoke. I would picture their eyebrows twitch when they made expressions. I would think about how everyone took turns speaking, and how no matter how many people are in a room there is always a pecking order. I would think about clothing choices, and why one person drove a jeep and another drove a VW bug. I would think about how some people chewed their food, and I would remember that Al Gaeta didn’t mind if his Jello and his mashed potatoes mingled. “It all comes out the same!” he said. I thought about how I was going to work that into a conversation one day. I would think about how some achieved dominance in the everyday of life and others were forever caught in a subservient role. I would become so focused on the minutiae of life that it drove me to sanity’s border.

These moments were stressful, unhappy moments in my life that would congeal with later experiences in life to gestate into the material that sits before you now. It wasn’t born in one night, or in one morning after, and I’m appreciative of those moments that bore such fruit, but if becoming normal is dependent on getting the required amount of hours of sleep, I would’ve much preferred sleep.

Time flies by in life, and it flew by in mine, but there were agonizing nights spent at friend’s homes when time slowed to a crawl. In these moments, I agonized and celebrated small moments in life, and I began to examine and re-examine those moments, until I began to wonder if anyone else in the world had these moments. I realized that the simple act of sleeping was the mind and the body’s attempt to recuperate from the day. I wondered if anyone valued their lives, and the fact that when we all woke we would be granted another day, the way I had in these early morning hours. When they wake and speak to me, I decided that I would pay special attention to them, for in these wee hours of the morning communication between humans becomes a little more surreal to me.

There were times when we would play those sleeping games. When there were six or seven of us, the first one down faced the wrath of the rest of the group. We would jam Trolli worms up their nose, or put shaving cream in their hand and tickle their nose, so that they would jam shaving cream up their nose. Needless to say, I was never that guy. Once the laughter died down, and everyone settled into sleep, I would be left on the other side of the joke: The only one still awake. The punishment was different for that guy.

When I eventually awoke, I realized that I had been granted some sleep, but I was so tired that I didn’t want to engage in the customary conversations of the day. I wanted to forget all that I thought about in the grips of delirium and frustration, and just go home and catch up on some of the sleep I lost at their house. I hated my friends for inviting me over, I hated them for wanting to speak to me in the morning, and I hated them for having a house. I also hated their trinkets. All those questions I dreamed up about the trinkets the night before, were forcefully pushed out of mind. I didn’t even want to think of them. All I wanted was some sleep.

I returned their good mornings, those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed good mornings, and I smiled when Buggs Bunny did something funny. Normal kids find Buggs Bunny funny, and I wanted to be normal. For one day, in my otherwise abnormal life, I wanted to be normal. I did hate Buggs Bunny for being funny, on these mornings, and I loathed my friends for being so simple-minded as to laugh at something specifically written to generate a laugh. I would decide, in the throes of this delirious morning, that when I returned to the normal world, I would do things that other people considered normal, so they could enjoy being around me. I decided not to tell those who liked me, and cared about me, what went on inside my head as a result of so many delirious nights, over so many years, but a person can only take so many of these blows without being affected by them.

I’ve heard some creative types say that anyone that has creative inclinations should use hallucinogenic drugs to supplement the creative centers of their brain. I’ve heard some creative types suggest that they cannot imagine approaching a creative project without, at the very least, experimenting with such substances. I found the alternative. I’ve heard some people say that taking even one hallucinogenic drug forever alters the brain in ways I’m sure these creators spoke of, but I would suggest that anyone that wants to be creative spend a portion of their youth without sleep. It forces the mind to concentrate on minutiae the mind otherwise would not, the surreal stillness of the night focuses the mind on all of the conversations the person has had throughout the day, until they’re editing, and rewriting, those conversations in a creative manner, and it affects the mind in a way that’s nearly unalterable. If the reader has read through a number of the pieces we’ve provided here, and they decide that they don’t want their children to be anything like that, they should check in on their kids every once in a while to sure they’re getting enough sleep.

Chances Are You’re a Lot Like Me: My Life with Alcohol

Chances are if you were lower middle-class, Irish, and Catholic, and you grew up in a Midwestern city in the late 70’s/early 80’s, you were immersed in a culture of booze. Every man I knew had his drink of choice in the 70’s, and his bar to drink it in. They were hard-working, lifelong Kennedy Democrats who would just as soon knock your block off than engage in a socioeconomic discussion on the differences of the Carter agenda and the Reagan agenda. Drinking was more socially accepted back then, and drinking is what every adult I knew did.

alcoholChances are if you were an adult in this era, your parents had a Depression-era mindset given to them by their parents and you had some form of involvement in war, be it World War II, Korea, or even Vietnam. Chances are you weren’t much of a talker, or if the occasional yarn escaped, it had nothing to with anything sentimental, or personal, in the manner a modern day, Facebook testimonial might. Chances are you blanched at the suggestion that you were a hero, or that you were a member of America’s “Greatest Generation”. Chances are you were humble about your heroic efforts to save the world, and you didn’t want your exploits discussed, but you were just as silent about the pain you knew. The idea of psychological trauma, otherwise known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, would be discussed during your era, but most true men poo pooed such discussions in closed quarters. Chances are you dealt with everything you saw, and everything you experienced quietly and internally, and in the only way you could deal with all this without going insane was in the company of some container of alcohol that allowed you to forget what haunted you … if only for a couple hours. Chances are you accidentally passed this legacy on.

Chances are if you were an adult in this era, your home came equipped with a fully stocked bar, a mirror around that bar that had some bourbon colored leafs on it, and a wagon wheel table, or some other loud furnishings that distracted the eye from the otherwise lower middle class furnishings of your home.

Chances are if you were a woman, and a wife in this era, your tale of the tape scorecard involved hosting abilities. For a good hostess of this era, the question wasn’t “Do you want a drink?” it was “What do you drink?” or “What can I do you for?,” or “What’s your flavor neighbor?” Those questions were for hostesses who didn’t know their guests’ drink of choice. Most good hostesses did. Most good hostesses knew their guests’ kids’ names, and the perfect form of entertainment that would keep the kids away from the men. I remember one particular hostess, a wife named Jean, who had Rondo at her bar. Rondo! How could she know that was my drink of choice? She was an excellent hostess.

Chances are your family had a George somewhere in your family. Georges are regular pop ins. Pop ins, in the 70’s, were frequent and irregular. Pop ins provided some notice, some of the times, but for the most part a good hostess had to be prepared for a George to pop in at any time. It was a crucial checkmark on a hostesses’ list. Who was George? George was Johnny Walker Black dry. My mother innocently served George Johnny Walker Black on ice once. Once. Some of the times, once is all it takes. It would be the shame that loomed over my family for many a year. George was polite about it. He allowed his drink to sit silently on the table before him while speaking of other, more pressing matters. When he was asked why he wasn’t indulging in the fruits of my father’s labor, George simply said, “I prefer it dry.” My mother scurried about emptying his glass to prepare him a glass that was dry. My dad couldn’t look at George. He saved his scorn for my mother. George, for his part, said nothing. He was polite, and he silently drank it dry, but the damage was already done.

George was a World War II and Korean, War Hero. He was a golden gloves boxing champion, and he was the top John Deere salesman so many times that it would be more illustrative to point out how many years he didn’t win the award. He was also an independent business owner who carved out a niche in the crowded furniture market of our city, but I wouldn’t know any of that for decades. I only knew him as Johnny Walker Black dry.

Chances are if you were a Catholic, Irish boy of this era, you were not permitted to have an objective view of John F. Kennedy. We had pictures and portraits of two men in my household: Jesus and JFK. One of the first methods through which a young male could get a foothold on an identity in my household, through rebellion, was to criticize JFK. It was the family shame. You could criticize Notre Dame Football in my house, you could criticize the Cornhuskers, and you could even criticize the Catholic Church when Dad was good and loaded, but God help you if you claimed that JFK might not be Mount Rushmore material. There were numerous fights on this topic, in my house, that ended with the concession: “If you insist on popping off in such a manner, keep it in the family.” I wasn’t to embarrass the family with my crazy, heretical ideas about JFK.

I would love to say that I stood proud atop this lonely hill, astride my verbal spears, but I was so young and so outnumbered that I questioned my stance. I questioned it so much that when confronted by a Spanish teacher –who was kind enough to give me a ride to school– with the question of who I thought was the greatest president of all time, I said “Kennedy.” I said this to avoid a fight the fights and arguments I endured prior to meeting the man. “You know I’m Cuban right?” he asked. I didn’t, and I must confess that I didn’t understand the implications of it, but I lied and said I did know that he was Cuban. “Did you know that I was a Cuban rebel of Castro?” I confessed that I didn’t. “Did you know that I am the oldest grandson of a former Cuban emperor, and that I was in a direct line of secession that Castro wanted obliterated? Did you know that we were abandoned by this man that you call the greatest president of all time in what is called the Bay of Pigs?” I said I didn’t. I was thoroughly humiliated, but I didn’t know why. I was eventually let off the hook, because I was young, and I didn’t know any better. “Pay more attention in History class…” this Spanish teacher told me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed a drink after all that. I would come to know that soon. I would come to realize that all of the uncomfortable moments of life could be eased out of sight, and out of mind, with a couple of good belts under my belt. I would learn that fun was always fifteen minutes away.

Chances are that if you grew up in this era, in a manner similar to mine, you learned that adulthood was chaotic and an awful responsibility. You got yourself a job. You hated this job, but every man had a job. You got yourself some kids, but kids were seen but not heard in this era. Every kid learned how to conduct themselves around adults, no matter how chaotically the adults acted. You got your quarters to play Pac-Man or “Rhinestone Cowboy” on the jukebox, and you stayed away from the adults and their imbibing.

You worried about everything that happened if you were an adult in this post-Depression, post WWII era, you developed worry lines, and every piece of advice you offered a kid from the next generation involved the word “awful”. You learned that alcohol was the escape from the awful pains that pained you, the awful life, and you indulged in her pleasures whenever you had the chance to escape it. I saw all of the ABC After School Specials, and their thematic horrors of alcohol abuse, but I rarely saw those horrors in my life. In my real life all the trials and tribulations, of the awful life, were fifteen minutes away– or however long it took you to get a couple of good belts under your belt– from being fun.

Chances are that through all the fun, however, you did see some chaos if you were a kid in this era. Chances are you witnessed some evidence that the lifestyle wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Chances are you witnessed one of your parents, most likely your Dad, in a compromising position. The women of this era usually comported themselves better. For the most part, all of the adults controlled their alcohol intake in public, but there were days when the awful responsibilities, of the awful job, in their awful life got to them, and they over indulged. Chances are they did something, in the throes of this abuse, that forever changed your perception of them, but chances are that didn’t outweigh the overall joy you saw procured from indulging.

Chances are you were already fully immersed in this lifestyle before any of the consequences of the lifestyle came to call on victims of the WWII generation. My Dad’s generation didn’t qualify their love of alcohol. They drank, they got sauced, they got tanked, and they liked it! They got a few belts under their belt, and they felt better about the post WWII, Korea and Vietnam life they lived. It was their way to escape thinking about The Depression that their parents taught them, and the lessons Hitler taught them, and to escape the fact that the U.S. had more issues than they knew growing up. It was their way of creating an alternative universe that escaped all politics– both national and personal. They had never heard of cirrhosis of the liver, no one spoke about the horrors of drunk driving, and they didn’t gauge the chaotic effects alcohol could have on the mind and the family, until we were all already immersed in the provocative folklore that we took from the lifestyle. Chances are they didn’t discuss the horrors of the lifestyle, because they didn’t see them, until it was much too late for most of us.

Chances are you were probably immersed in the lifestyle before you were ready for such discussions anyway. I know I was. I know I took from the examples of what they did, versus what they eventually said. I knew I couldn’t handle my liquor, and I still can’t, but I defined adulthood as one drenched in alcohol and lots of talking. The talk was always uninhibited, slightly loony, jovial and non-stop. If something offensive was said, during this talk, you were to ignore it. “That was the beer talking.” It was a get-out-of-jail free card to say whatever you wanted to say whenever you wanted to say it.

Chances are once you were ready to immerse yourself in that lifestyle, you had that party that defined who you were and what you were about to do in life. Mine occurred at the hands of a guy named Lou. The summary of Lou’s fifteen year old philosophy was, life sucks, life is boring, let’s drink. “I don’t want to hear your philosophies of life,” he said, “I want to get plastered.” When I suggested to Lou that I loved music that was heavily influenced by the strange, complicated chords of Bohemian Rhapsody, he said, “‘F’ that stuff!  The stuff you listen to isn’t party rock!  If we’re going to get women involved, we got to get the Crue, Kiss, Ratt, and The Beastie Boys involved.” Lou was all about the testosterone. He liked to fight, he liked to have fun, he liked football, and he liked to have relations with women. It was the 4F society of a fifteen-year-old’s world.

Chances are if you drank this early in life, you didn’t have a way for getting alcohol. Chances are you drank anything you could get your hands on. Chances are you drank beer that you wouldn’t touch today, but if you couldn’t get that beer, you found an exotic liquor that you hoped would launch you past all those preparatory stages of adulthood to adulthood. Drinking a high-powered drink, like bourbon, was like stepping onto a high powered escalator that transported one to adulthood. If you were a lot like me, chances are you were an eager student to the specifics on how to drink … If you wanted to know how to enjoy the ride properly. You learned how to hold a drink, when to drink a drink, and how to chase it for either minimal damage or maximum effect.

Chances are if you were a naïve, young Irish, Catholic boy from the Midwest, you had a Lou in your life. “We have alcohol,” Lou said. He informed me of this in a somewhat guarded manner that suggested that this wasn’t just any liquor, it was emergency liquor. It was liquor that shouldn’t be approached lightly. But this wasn’t just any ordinary night, this was a night that would have girls in it. If this didn’t qualify as an emergency night, no night would. “Girls don’t want to sit around and talk,” Lou said. “Girls want to get plastered. Girls want to party with guys that know how to party.” If it had been any other, ordinary night, where we couldn’t get alcohol, we would’ve sat in Lou’s basement and watched his Betamax collection of nude scenes from Hollywood’s glitterati.

Chances are you were a raging ball of insecurities and hormones, at fifteen, and you believed massive amounts of alcohol would provide you some cover. I know we did. I know we decided to break the emergency glass on Lou’s parents’ liquor to make something happen on “girls” night. That’s what we wanted, more than anything else, we wanted something to happen. We wanted to be fun, and with our fifteen-year-old, Catholic, and Midwestern mindsets, we feared we didn’t have much of a knowledgebase, so we decided that alcohol would provide us some cover. “Okay, but I’m not going to raid the liquor cabinet,” Lou said. “After my cousin raided it a number of times, my parents got hip to the water in the bottle trick to keeping alcohol bottles filled. We do have decanters though.”  Lou’s parents were the owners of a liquor store, so there was always plenty of alcohol in their house. The trick was how were we going to get to this alcohol without their knowledge?

Chances are if you were a naïve, young Irish, Catholic boy, born into the lifestyle of alcohol you said, “Decanters?!” with a gleam in your eye. “Let’s see them!” you said. “I have no idea how old they are, but they’re old,” Lou said. He opened the closet door to reveal an array of elaborate decanters lined up in their own compartments. They had never been opened, and they had never been touched as far as Lou knew. “They’re, at least, as old as we are,” he informed me.

Chances are you saw decanters like these your whole life, and you probably viewed them in the manner Hobbits viewed Gandalf. “What kind of alcohol are they?” I asked believing there was an elixir in those decanters that would reveal things about life to me that my alcoholic forbears knew for a generation. He twisted the bottle around to read the label. “Bourbon!”  He cringed. I didn’t know if bourbon was more potent than scotch or whiskey, and to be quite frank I still don’t. I’m sure that it’s all dependent on the brand, the amount of proof listed on the bottle, and the year it was produced. I made a mistake on the latter when I said, “Alcohol doesn’t go bad with age. It gets better. It becomes vintage.”

Chances are you knew as little about alcohol as I did, but you provided cover for this lack of knowledge with such little nuggets of information you had picked up over the years. Plus, you were willing to do whatever you had to do to entertain girls. Lou knew as little about alcohol as I did, but we both knew that an emergency night that called for emergency procedures. Dawn was coming over, after all. Dawn. Dawn was only thirteen, but she had a woman’s body, and she had one of those sultry, horse, Lauren Bacall voices that would melt a man’s loins, not to mention what they did to a fifteen-year-old’s ball of raging hormones. Dawn had a vacant expression above a cut, strong jawline, beneath flowery blonde hair. She loved to wear swimsuits all the time, even though she wasn’t going swimming, or that’s how I remember it anyway.

Chances are if you had a Dawn in your young life, you were willing to flip all of the emergency triggers necessary to entertain her. If you could get her to laugh, just once, you could play with that for a couple months, if not years. If she found something you said intelligent, or provocative, that could be your lone definition throughout your teens. Even having a Dawn look at you, was worth a couple swigs off the worst drink you ever put to my mouth. Lou seemed to gain his mantle effortlessly. I had to drink enough liquid courage to even open my mouth for five seconds. She was that good looking. I wanted to be entertaining in the manner my Dad, and George, and Francis, and Sam were entertaining when they drank. I’m not sure if it was the first time I ever drank, but it was the first time I drank with girls around. It was my first foray into the 4F club, and I was only fifteen minutes away from fun.

Chances are when you took your first drink, it was absolutely awful. Beer was awful and hard liquor was absolutely terrible, but chances are that didn’t matter to you. Chances are you thought that there was something important involved in you taking that drink. Whether it was achieving a different personality, a heightened awareness, or advancing to adulthood in some manner you couldn’t put your finger on, chances are you decided that you would acquire a taste for it, if it killed you. I decided I would be Tommy Lee, downing this whole, fricking bottle before a drum kit if I had to. I would be entertaining and lively. I wouldn’t engage them in my fifteen year old philosophy. I wouldn’t wax nostalgic on the beauty of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. I would rock out and get plastered and be entertaining.

Chances are some girl, at some point in your life, called you boring. Chances are you didn’t know how to be entertaining to girls. If that’s all true with you, and you had the opportunity I did to be entertaining through alcohol, chances are you overdid it. If a girl like Dawn would laugh at something you said after one shot of alcohol, imagine what she would think of you after two, or three, or eleven shots. I got so out of hand, at one point, I began sneaking other people’s drinks. Another girl at the party, a girl named Rhonda, took one girly smidgen and decided that this wasn’t for her. For me, drinking this drink was like diving into an extremely cold pool. It was shocking and breathtakingly bad, but once I got it into my system, I figured my body would acclimate itself. I began sneaking Rhonda’s drink. When it was my turn to drink, if I missed a quarter shot for example, I downed that muther. It would only be revealed to me later that all of the other people in the place, took smidgens and put the drink behind them. Even if I knew this, I doubt it would’ve slowed me. I was there to enter the 4F club, I was there to get tanked, and this was my fifteen minutes of fun. I didn’t care that by some estimates I downed ten to eleven shots in this, my first drinking experience. This was more about entering a spirituality of drink than it was about being responsible or having a polite, responsible time. I was fifteen and I wanted to rock out.

Chances are that if you had a night like this, as your first drinking experience, you don’t remember a whole lot. I remember Dawn did a seductive striptease dance, but I missed most of that(!) Why God(?!) I remember someone being somewhat-sort-of concerned with my well-being. I remember vomiting violently, and I remember waking. I did it all to elevate myself to another sphere of spirituality that I would remember for the rest of my life, and I didn’t remember much of it. I haven’t had a drink of bourbon, or anything and everything that smelled something like bourbon, since. I just threw up just a little thinking of that smell.

Chances are that you had some sort of confrontation in that first morning after, whether it was internal or not. My experience involved a verbal confrontation with Lou’s Mom. I was in on about half of that discussion, even though she was speaking directly to me. I’ve never done well in situations where someone called my sanity into question. When one looks at me with that look, and speaks to me in that accusatory manner, I usually shut down or leave the room rather than engage. The times when I engaged in such confrontations have never turned out well. “What the hell were you thinking?” was the theme of her questioning. I looked elsewhere. “This is forty year old bourbon,” she said. This caused one of my otherwise, carefree eyebrows to lift.

Chances are that something went through your head that suggested that she was angry because her little baby was growing up faster than she wanted, and she didn’t know how to deal with that fact. Chances are you used one of those few nuggets of information you had about alcohol against her. “Doesn’t alcohol get better with age?” I asked her. “Better with age?” she asked rhetorically. “Wine does,” she said. “You’re thinking of wine….bourbon ferments,” she said. “Do you know what ferments means?” she asked me from a position that was as close to hysterical as she ever got. “You could’ve, and should’ve, died last night!” Her eyes were boring into me, attempting to wake me to the reality of what I’d just done. “You’re just lucky you threw it all up!” she said. This caused both of my eyebrows to lift before I left the room.

Chances are not all of your drinking experiences were as death-defying. Mine weren’t either, at least not to that level. There was one night, I screamed out the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody in the manner Wayne’s World had. I was drunk out of my mind, barely paying attention to the road, with a hot girl, named Adana Moore, in the passenger seat. I think there were five people in my car that night: Me, Lou, Adana, Madonna, and some other girl they jokingly called Donna. When the song ended, I began screaming the next song. I wanted people to know that I knew the entire A Night at the Opera album. I knew every lyric to every song on that album, and probably five other Queen albums. No one cared. They only wanted to feel like Wayne’s World for one night. I remember Adana Moore staring at me like I was a strange character, as I worked my way through the lyrics of the next song, and the next, until I felt I proved that I would continue to do it even with her looking at me. Then, once she looked away, I felt stupid and stopped.

Chances are if you knew a Lou, you knew a guy that had a formula to getting chicks to do things that were totally foreign to you. I envied him for it. He was skilled at talking to women about stupid stuff. He wasn’t a phony guy, but he knew how to turn on the phony factor better than most people I know. He liked to say he had a gift for it, and he did. He liked to call this suave character he created The Louer. The Louer was an alter-ego Lou turned on when the ladies came around, and the ladies loved this self-effacing braggadocious character. I couldn’t compete with Lou on the Louer’s turf, so I decided to go down the opposite road. I decided I would be a complicated, artistic individual, but the problem was I had no artistic talents at the time. I listened to complicated music, or what I thought was complicated music back then, and I brooded. I thought this was artistic. I rarely spoke, unless spoken to. I offered some clipped responses, and I tried to be ironically and sardonically funny. Whatever the case was, I wasn’t into impressing the girls in the ways of the Louer.

If you knew a Lou, chances are you knew a guy who could flip a Louer lever to get the ladies undressed. I would not lower myself to such a point where a girl would dictate to me how I was to act to entertain them. I would remain true to my artistic convictions, even if most people didn’t care one way or another. I would not entertain them in a fashion I considered demeaning. I would be funny, but I would be funny on my terms. I would have fun, but that would be fun that I considered fun. In truth, I couldn’t be entertaining, and fun, in the manner Lou was entertaining and fun, but we made a good team. If the Louer was David Lee Roth, I was Eddie Vedder before anyone had heard of Eddie Vedder. This isn’t to say that I was sad. I was happy and fun, but I didn’t have a whole lot of material back then. Lou didn’t either, but he was much better at concealing this fact than I was when he was the Louer.

Chances are, if you’re anything like me, you reached a point where you realized you could not handle your liquor. I would say this to all of my future co-workers, friends, and family at any social function I attended. At one point, I thought of having a T-shirt made that said this, just to save all the time it took me to convince those around me that it’s not a good idea to give me hard alcohol. “Don’t feed the bear,” I told them in a joking manner that I hoped would address the matter with humor. I knew this made me less of a man, and that “that woman over there can outdrink you.” That’s fine, I said. I’ll bet I have a better jump shot than her, I’ll bet I can conjugate a verb faster than her, and I’ll bet I can name more Civil War generals than she can. I didn’t care that I could do any of these things better than her, just like I didn’t care that she could drink me under the table.

Chances are that such convictions didn’t last throughout your drinking life. Chances are you didn’t care when a fella called you out, but when you hung out with that cute girl you had been dying to hang out with confront you with these facets of your drinking life, you folded like a house of cards. You may have told her of your weakness, but chances are that didn’t matter to her, and chances are that meant a great deal to you. “Do you want me to be fun tonight, or do you want me to drink this one drink that you feel builds some form of symbolic camaraderie?” ‘Drink it!’ she said. “Do you want me to tell half of you I love you and half of you I hate you?” ‘I don’t care drink it!’ “Do you want me to start walking down that hallway over there and fall into that family of six?” ‘Drink the shit!’ “Does it really matter that I put the same thing into my mouth at the same time that you do?” ‘YES! Drink the shit!!’ “At a certain point in the evening, I will become quiet, as I grow embarrassed that everything that comes out of my mouth is twisted and tied up in my alcohol saturated brain. You really want that?” YES! Drink the shit!! She was so cute, and she gave an inkling that she might be willing to get undressed for me at the end of the night, and she was losing patience with me and my stance. She was even becoming a little disgusted by my weakness, so I drank the shit and eventually ruined (like I knew I would!) any chances of seeing her cute, little body naked.

Chances are at some point in your life, you saw the hills of drinking. All drinkers know these hills. One hill can be a momentary, night by night scale of debauchery, that ends at a certain point where you’ve reached maximum altitude. Most drinkers know this hill, and they responsibly know when to say when. They know how to have fun and engage in a little chaos that eases the awful life a little, but they know that slaloming down the hill at breakneck speed has consequences. Some don’t. Some always want that little, extra bit of fun that looms on the other side of the hill that doesn’t exist, but can be achieved with just one more drink. You are forever in pursuit of that which may never have existed in the first place, if you’re anything like me. There is also that hill of life that most drinkers acknowledge at one time or another.

Chances are if you’re like me, you never sought this hill of life, so much as it was introduced to you. Chances are some of your friends suddenly stopped drinking, or they stopped seeing the necessity of having drink accompany every single get-together. I remember the first one. I remember seeing no beer in anyone’s hands, and thinking how unusual that was. What’s going on, I wondered. I remember the customary conversation that occurred on that occasion that I thought matched that which I had with my relatives at Thanksgiving. I remember thinking what a travesty that was. “We’re just going to sit here and talk?!”  It wasn’t the hill for me, not yet, but it was a sign that things were changing among my friends. I was no longer in charge of festivities. I was no longer “respected” as the go-to guy for fun and frivolity. I was becoming a little sad. I was being face-planted into a hill that exposed me as a man that began to rely on a little drink as a Band-Aid to cover my wounds. I was becoming pathetic. I didn’t care. This wasn’t right. This was boring! Who’s in charge here? No one would answer. No one would look at me. It was the changing of the guard.

Chances are if you’re anything like me, you were one of the last to jump on board this ride. Chances are it took you years, if not decades, to realize that you didn’t need alcohol to be fun and exciting, and you chose Thanksgiving style talk as your new course of life. You began to learn about politics and work, and you began to engage in the awful life without it being made all the more awful through chaotic release.

Chances are you began to see all the life you missed at this point. Chances are people learned how to balance checkbooks, and fix their cars, and homes, and their plumbing. Chances are these people made meritorious advances in the workplace while you remained in your entry level position. Chances are they learned how to talk to women without having to have chemical courage involved. Chances are these people all learned things about life that you spent most of your life trying to escape and avoid because they were square, unhip, nonalcoholic pursuits of life. Chances are this was never your intention in life, but it happened progressively night after night, hung-over morning after hung-over morning. Chances are you wasted a certain portion of your life in which you did achieve things, but not as much as you could’ve if you had been a little more focused.

Chances are if you led a life similar to mine, you started to recognize the compulsion you once had to be impulsive. Chances are that you once flew down roads at breakneck speeds to get to an 8pm party, so that you would have plenty of time to get blitzed by the time the heart of the party started. Chances are this started to become such a cyclical pattern of your life that these nights began to lose their fun. You had some Mt. McKinley nights of fun that you spent most of your life trying to recapture then top, until you had some Mt. Everest nights of fun. You escaped the pressures of the work life and the doldrums of the home life so often that those nights started to lose that crucial element of escapism. When this started happening, chances are you started to think about going home earlier, until you got there and wished you were out drinking again. You just wanted a fun life, and you were willing to do whatever it took to achieve it. You wanted to avoid reflection and get extremely chaotic for fifteen minutes of fun that helped you deal with the awful life, until you realized that your life was awful because of it. My Dad and his friends had a hill, but they knew how to drink. Everyone does, it seems, to a point where it’s good, clean, adult fun. They didn’t know how to live, and either do you, you realize that day you truly face plant into that hill that informs you that you’ve been avoiding life for so long that you don’t know how to live.

Chances are you figured something out, somewhere along the line, and you’re happy now. Chances are something, or someone, happened in your life to clarify matters for you, and you’re no longer in the dark. Chances are you were a little late to the game, but you look back on your lifestyle with some regret and some fondness, but you’ve moved on, and you’re happier than you’ve ever been.


The Nonconformity Market

Cool dudes are out there, and nonconformity is their thing. They seek out that which others consider odd. They know that they are trendsetting fashionistas, and that everyone they know, knows it too. They know it better than we do, and they know that they’re not rebelling. They don’t care for labels. This is just who they are. They preach their nonconformist tastes to every fake nonconformist in their inner circle, and they get off on the fact that we don’t understand them. They are the only true nonconformist they know. They don’t fall prey to the whims of the Man, that fat cat, or the Scooby Doo bad guy, CEO that smokes cigars he lit with $100 dollar bills. They are an individual with selective, refined tastes that supersede everyone else’s tastes, and this is your status in their world. They are the true nonconformist.

noncomWhat they don’t understand is that the world is immersed in nonconformist rebels, and that they are so numerous that there are nonconformist rebel markets created for nonconformist rebellious consumers that rebel against conformity. What they don’t understand is that the capitalist pig system abhors conformity for the most part, for if nonconformity didn’t exist there would be very few stores in a mall, there would be little stratification of prices in each store, and there wouldn’t be the large number of products in the large numbers of stores in every mall.

In our youth, it was possible for supermarket chains to have multiple items in the breakfast row. They had the cereal section, in that row, and that was bracketed by other breakfast-related items. The variety of cereals have grown so varied that there is but little room in that side of the aisle for Pop Tarts and other breakfast related items. A shopper is more apt to find maple syrup, and other smaller items on the opposing side of the aisle, or in another aisle altogether.  

Walk into any cell phone store, and we’ll see a number of phones that conform to the function of nonconformity, but we’ll probably see that store for what it is after a while. We’ll start to realize that these stores appeal to our sense of non-conformity, or our elevated knowledge of the technology of one phone versus another that we’ll end up skipping that store to go to the one three stores down that appeals our knowledge and our sense of non-conformity. If we are so well informed that we know that neither of these stores provide the degree of technology necessary to suit our needs, boy, have we got a store for you online.

If you’re willing to pay a little bit more for a socially conscious store, we have a whole line of products for you, and they are friendlier to the environment, they have “We support Green Peace” stickers on all of their products, and anything and everything we abhor about what is being done in the South American rain forests. Let those poor suckers continue to buy their inferior products from store A, but they should do so with the knowledge that they are not down for the cause.

The capitalist pigs of the cell phone industry, the clothing industry, the electronics industry, and the leather wallet industry know more about your selection process than you do. They know that our discerning, refined tastes are such that we would never buy a candle wax that is distilled from “Big” oil. Our preferred candle is composed of a wax carefully removed from honeycombs created by bees, so as to not disturb their honey making process or their larvae storage. They also know that to cater to their clientele, they will be required to provide an example of this process to all concerned consumers in a video on their website. These stores know, probably more than any other outlets, that the success of their niche market depends on making their customers feel more socially conscious, more knowledgeable, and more empathetic, and as such it will be required of them to provide their customer base an outlet through which they can further detail their pleasure, or complaints, with the products they sell in their store. As such, they will have some sort of comments section on their website that they will have to monitor on a daily basis, for even the most simple reply to the comments on the website will substantiate the long-held beliefs of their customer base. All they will have to say is something along the lines of “You’re right Doogie Howser232, we will address your valuable information at our next meeting.”

We are all victims of our own knowledge of markets and political consciousness. We make decisions in life, based on what we read and know. Our discerning tastes based on knowledge are studied and commented on in board meetings, and there is nothing special about us. We are members of a demographic, and if we do manage to somehow become an outlier in anyway, there will be a new market created to suit our new stratified needs and desires.

This new market will want to know how much we now “know” about phones and clothes, and they will soon find a way to appeal to us on a new, knowledge level. They want to understand what shaped our new knowledge, and why we think that way, and they want to have that perfect product ready for us when we’re ready to open up our pocketbook.

But I am a true nonconformist, rebels that doesn’t give a durn about any of that nonsense. The capitalist pig machine can shrivel up and die for all I care, but you’re adding to it poopy bear. We’re all creating, and adding to, a diversified and stratified market that has existed longer than we’ve been alive. We can say we’re rebels, but the month after we claim a new discerning taste, a rebel store will open up with all kinds of new, rebel paraphernalia to appeal to us. You’re a punker you say? Well, where did you get all your punker gear? Did you make it by hand? No, well, what else do you have in that Punkers R’ Us bag?

It’s called consumer rebellion, and it’s become such a primary staple in the capitalist pig, American system that capitalist pigs have opened up a store in just about every mall in America just for us? We wear a constant, nonconformist snarl, how can a capitalist pig sell a snarl? We can’t, but we can give you everything you need to bracket that snarl. We can sell a suitable get up that frames that snarl in such a way that it can make it more powerful during rebellious consumption. We can buy a tongue stud at this store, but for those who want spikes in the shoulder pads of their leather jacket we may have to go to the store three doors down and across the hall, and to buy the latest rebellious, nonconformist punk rock album, we’ll have to go down to the first floor. The current, capitalist pig system in America today needs you! and your rebellious consumerism to survive and thrive.

Tattoos were once the epitome of rebellion. An individual could define himself as an outlier with one simple, strategically placed tattoo that was somewhat visible, but not so visible that it was obvious. An individual with a tattoo attained instantaneous conversation status. Everyone has one now, so the true rebel got two, then three, and finally four, until four wasn’t enough, and the whole body art market rose from the back alley to strip mall status. How embarrassing is it to thee true rebel, tattoo aficionados that this market rose to the level where a consumer in Omaha, Nebraska found that tattoo parlors began to compete with Burger Kings in the total number of locations?

People, from the lowest marketer go to the fat cat CEOs, want to know what we’re buying and what we’re consuming, so they go to our favorite Euro bar to find out what the latest nonconformists are wearing, drinking, eating, and in all ways consuming. There’s a whole lot of consuming going on out there, and it takes a whole team of studious marketers to understand it all. These studious marketers then present their information to that fat cat CEO, with that mighty bank account, to create a fashion line that brackets your snarl and appeals to that nonconformist ethos that we have to tell the world that we just don’t give a durn about nothing.

The 50’s and 60’s were a relatively homogenous era that built a fairly homogenous market. It was the Leave it to Beaver, Dragnet, Davy Crockett era. It was an era where fat cat CEOs dictated to the populous what was hip and fashionable. If they wanted everyone and their brother or sister to buy what they were selling, they had Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando wear it. They had The Beatles sponsor it, they had Milton Bearle smoke it, and it all gave birth to the ‘keeping up joneses’ meme. Marketing and commercialization have always dictated style of dress, home décor, and artistic tastes, but the power they had back then was considerably stronger before the late 60’s. The late 60’s were a time of nonconformist sophistication that brought forth some degree of individualism, at least when it came to clothing and music, but the markets didn’t sit around and lick their wounds over the power they lost. They adapted. The nonconformity market was born. It was a submarket that up and coming, risk-takers, otherwise known as entrepreneurs, adapted to, and they left the conformists in the dust, until the nonconformist consumers adapted and bucked the current nonconformist trends, and the market adapted again and again, until they started appealing to the nonconformist goth with a snarl. These sub markets were all created to appeal to those that marketing and commercialization didn’t. Up and coming, risk taking entrepreneurs saw dollar signs in tie dye shirts and bell bottom pants, and Ocean Pacific shirts, and Vans shoes, and on and on, until there was a market for every form of nonconformity a hip, nonconformist dude could think up. Our level of nonconformity is actually conformity in America today, and we are no more special than the nonconformists that we are laughing about here.

As David McRaney states in his book, You are Not so Smart: “Poor people compete with resources. The middle class competes with selection. The wealthy compete with possessions. You sold out long ago in one way or another. The specifics of who you sell to and how much you make – those are only details.”

The Mythology of You

“Who are you? Who Who? Who Who?” –Pete Townshend of The Who.

Has anyone ever told you a lie? Have you ever told a lie? When we lie, most of us don’t tell whoppers. We fib. We exaggerate. We tell meaningless lies that don’t harm anyone, but lies are lies, and they have a way of piling up. When the lies of other begin to pile up, we feel compelled to confront them and set the record straight, and we gather other friends to corroborate the truth, as we know it. We then receive a look from the liar that informs us that they’re shocked at the details we’ve gathered. Our purpose was to confront the liar after their lying reached a point where we could no longer tolerate it, but at some point it dawned on us that they didn’t intend to lie, and this is made all the more evident when the confrontation is over, and they continue to lie, fib, and exaggerate.

Why do we lie is a question I asked myself, especially when some of the lies are so obvious and easy to refute. When someone tells me an obvious lie, I feel trapped. Should I out them on the spot, thus informing them that they shouldn’t try this anymore, or will I feel worse than they should for telling the lie. Some lie so often that I can’t help but think they’re trying to make me feel guilty for knowing the truth.

My personal research, conducted through extensive reading on this fascinating subject, coupled with revelatory, related experiences, has led me to believe that most liars are not intentionally deceiving their audience. They may have been exaggerating a truth to cast themselves in the best light possible, but their intent was to create a better result for themselves. Their intent was not to deceive anyone. At some point, between the event in question and their exaggerated account of what happened , they created a truth that they believed. What’s the difference? I didn’t think there was one, until I began delving into the psychology of “misremembering” that some psychologists equate to the problems inherent in eyewitness testimony.

We all seek comfort in a world of truth, but we also manufacture a world of delusions for greater comfort. The difference between the two causes equal confusion for both parties.

Most of us don’t care for our narrow definition of reality, so we’ve come up with a number of definitions that suit us better. This is our mythology, and if we have enough belief in it, we might be able to sell it to others so often that we begin to believe it too.

The Protons and Neutrons 

To make this complex algorithm understandable, let’s put the discussion to a visual display, the model of the atom. The protons and the neutrons, in this model represent the reality of who we are. The protons and the neutrons contain the positive and negative experiences we’ve had and the “in the moment” reactions to those experiences. This is a very limited, and limiting, definition of who we are, and we’re often so unhappy with our reality that we would rather not focus on it. We’ve all made mistakes, and those mistakes have shaped us, but most of us maintain a certain degree of mental health by focusing on the orbital region that exists outside the nucleus.

The Electrons 

In the orbital regions that exist outside the nucleus are the mythologies we have of who we are. This orbital region contains electrons that are the ideas we have about who we are and who we could be. The electrons are the illusions and delusions we have of ourselves, and the potential we believe we have to accomplish great things. Every electron in this region perpetuates this mythology. The lies we tell ourselves are not whoppers, for we would have as much trouble buying into those lies as anyone else. The lies we tell ourselves often have a semblance of truth to them, and we connect the dots after that. The lies can be negative, if we’re seeking sympathy, but they’re often positive electrons that we use to shape how others view us, and how we hope others view us.

The lies we tell ourselves may be unconscious measures employed to stave off the depression that we might fall into if we allowed the protons and neutrons of our reality to overwhelm us. The unconscious measures we use can be interpretations of misdeeds that we employ to maintain the idea that we are good people regardless what we’ve done.

Walk through any penitentiary, and you’ll hear a number of qualifiers and excuses for the things these men and women have done. Are the inmates lying in the truest sense of the word? Ninety percent of them may be, but that is the obvious answer. The less than obvious answer goes to what we might consider a more comprehensive explanation. If the state convicted this criminal with an airtight case, why would they continue to lie to the person who can recite the numerous elements of their conviction? They might want you to believe they’re not bad people, but it’s far more important to them that they convince themselves of their virtues. If they are unable to do so, their guilt might lead them to think that their life is not worth living.

Among the most pervasive electrons we have, floating around in our orbital region, contain the beliefs we have in our own potential. There’s nothing wrong with believing we have potential, of course, until that belief supersedes our desire to do anything about it. For some, the belief in their potential is the reason they wake up in the morning with a smile, ready to greet a new day, but acting on that belief might result in failure and a comprehensive diminishment of one’s belief in themselves. Acting on that belief may also reveal to others that we’re not as capable as we once thought. To thwart that we enjoy reveling in the mythology we create for ourselves.

The Cheaters 

Most of us are honest with whom we are, but we do cheat. When we go out on a first date, or a business luncheon, we may tip a service industry worker a little more than we would have if we were alone. It’s a white lie, that doesn’t harm anyone, and it may bolster our perception, but is it possible that we’re making an investment in our mythology for others to see, and if we do it often enough, it becomes true on a certain level. If we lay that tip on the table, to paraphrase Babe Ruth, it ain’t lying. We done it. It’s only a lie, if we don’t believe it. If we believe it, it can be an investment in our mythology.

Our culture forces celebrities to engage in this lie whenever they go out. Those who stand to prosper from the mythologies of the celebrity encourage them to lay a huge tip on a table, but no one stands to prosper more from a positive mythology than the celebrity does, so their tips are often extravagant enough to make an impression. An inadequate tip could do damage to the mythology they’ve worked so hard to create after all, and if the mythology is real, who’s to say the perception isn’t?

Some of us begin to cheat by building mythologies so often that we can no longer see through the cloud we’ve created, and when this happens we may need professional psychiatric, or psychological, help when something goes wrong. We’ve cheated so often, and created so many mythologies, that we can’t achieve enough objectivity to see our way through a problem. We need to pay someone to let us talk about our past. We need someone cold-hearted to stop us in the middle of our tale and say that some of the details we’ve added are not true. Their cold-hearted nature might shock us, but if we strive for mental health, we’ll drop the façade and work from the new premise. We’ll recognize that those around us have enabled us to live certain lies, because they don’t want to be so cold-hearted. We’ll also recognize that these professionals are doing their best to help us achieve some sort of clarification about who we are and why we do what we do. We can’t work through this cloud ourselves anymore, because we’ve loaded our minds with such positive clutter that we can’t see through to the truth of our existence anymore. We thought we were somewhat happy, yet we were also very unhappy, and we were left with a feeling that life isn’t as fulfilling as it was when we thought we had it all figured out.

Publicity and Charity 

“I live every day trying to convince others of the lies I tell them,” a friend of mine said in jest. One of the primary lies we tell ourselves is that we’re wonderful people, and we’ll take any and every opportunity to prove it. A wonderful person is someone who does things for the sole purpose of attaining a wonderful perception, as opposed to one who actually does wonderful things. A wonderful person might perform certain actions for the publicity it gains them, but truly wonderful people do what they do to help others.

“You’re doing this for yourself,” a sick man, lying on a deathbed, says to a female that is caressing his hands and whispering sweet nothings to him. This crass and heartless man should enjoy the comfort the woman provides, but the greater question is was he calling her out for being a wonderful person as opposed to one who did a wonderful thing? What will she do in the moments that follow his death? Will she tell people about it, or was this a truly selfless act by the woman. Who cares, some would say, as long as she did it.

We have wonderful memories of our school days. We remember running and playing on the playground. We remember some of the studying we did, and some of the questions we answered in class, but for the most part, we choose to remember the fun we had, and some of the aspects that led to our current maturity in life. Those weren’t the only events that occurred in our lives, of course. If we dig back, with professional assistance, we may learn that those days weren’t as great as we remember them, but our selective memory has made us who we are today, so why do we bother with all of those awful memories?

“I had a wonderful childhood, which is tough because it’s hard to adjust to a miserable adulthood.” –Larry David

As we age, we experience the lot life has to offer, and after a while we begin to think we have a decent grasp on who we are based on those experiences. When we select those character-defining moments in our lives, however, which memories are we selecting? Are we selecting protons and neutrons, or electron memories, and what do those selections end up saying about us? Most studies state that for our mental well-being, we often choose positive life experiences to define who we are. If we stumble upon a negative experience, as noted, we find a way to rewrite that memory in a manner to make us appear better than we might have otherwise been in that particular situation. We’ll also qualify that negative experience in a manner that excuses us from the worst part of our involvement in those instances. The memory selection, coupled with harmless delusions that accompany them, form the mythology of who we are, but what if, to paraphrase my friend, we live every day trying to convince others of the lies we tell them that we end up convincing ourselves of these lies, and what if this effort results in us becoming better people? Would it matter if we based this eventuality on a big lie, or a series of meaningless, little delusions? I believe wholeheartedly in the philosophical axiom “Know Thyself”, and I pride myself on being as brutally honest with myself as I can possibly be, but I know that doesn’t work for everyone. The natural reaction one could have to those that live a life diametrically opposed to that effort is, “Who cares how or why they got there they’re living a lie.” That might be true in some cases, relative to the scale of the lies, but what kind of person would they be if they strove to live a more honest life?