On Life, Success and Other Things

Every time I see a photo of John Boehner I think of the scene in The Wedding Planner where a bride presents a blotchy, orange face from too long under the tanner. JLo says ‘quarter cup of lemon juice and half a cup of salt and scrub scrub scrub’.

graphic woman for ebook cover smallYou live most of your life with your eyes screwed shut and you don’t even know it. Then one day you open them and realize that your real is godawful. You close them again; don’t want to look at that picture. Sometimes when you open them again you realize your real is freaking brilliant. Does that make you schizo, or manic depressive or just very alive and aware? Or all three? Life is mercurial for some and that’s a fact.

susan sarandonThe Law of Increasing Complexity: the less aware you are the fewer choices you make consciously and the simpler life is at some level. At a consequence level though, it’s chaotic because your repressed stuff controls your behavior as if you were a puppet.

As you become more conscious of your belief systems, emotions, self esteem and entitlement, what drives you and what you need, and bring repressed stuff up into the light, you heal wounds and move into the driver’s seat. You’re not so much of a puppet any more so your life becomes less chaotic. There’s more of you to give to others from a genuine place.

But you also become conscious of emotions and belief systems etc. in everybody else. And you can see when they’re conscious of what they’re feeling and when they aren’t, when their belief system limits them but they don’t see it. So life is more complex for you. Being in a roomful of people can be pretty damn lonely because you can’t talk to anybody about what’s flying around; either nobody else sees it, or if they do they don’t want to talk about it. You’re on your own, kid. Strength of mind is a useful tool here, as is permission to take a hike.

If you choose to stay it can be challenging and you have to guard against the fear that you’re going mad. But it’s the price you pay for becoming more conscious. And it helps to remember that the rewards are pretty amazing. You feel alive in so many different parts of you. If you’re a writer hey, you’ve got more to write about.

And much as everybody says being lonely is the worst thing in the world, it isn’t. Being mostly numb, half dead, passive aggressive, blind and deaf, that’s the worst. Because some part of you knows it and screams at you all the time. You have to work real hard to keep it out of your awareness.

blind justice cropped smallWe’re all over-adaptive in some way or another. If you’re aware of it you’ll feel like a ghost in your own town until you find your voice. And when you do you might also find that you don’t like that town at all. You might grab the only horse there is and head on out. Some of the people left behind will be sad to see you go but thrilled for you. Others will blacken your name. If it happens, just keep on riding, don’t look back.

Or you might find that you are the horse. You’re just a kid and you have to head on out alone. Don’t worry, you’ll find others soon enough. They’re gonna love you, kid.

horses galloping tinyI don’t like missionaries who target the poor or the needy, give them nice stuff like food and shelter and then indoctrinate them. At some level, even if they’re adults, there’s a vulnerable child within. The missionaries exploit the same principle that makes a child loyal to a man or woman who takes them hostage and then rapes them for years. Stockholm Syndrome, it’s called. It has many variations and there’s more than one way to take a child hostage and rape it.

Missionaries don’t respect your right to think for yourself. They respect their right to overpower your mind, though. And they sure believe that God talks to them more than he/she does to you.

make the connection cropped and smallTo date James Patterson has written 130 books in 38 years and sold 305 million copies in all. He’s been the world’s best-selling author since 2001; way ahead, btw, of JK Rowling. He writes unashamedly to a formula and has an army of ghost writers working for him now, as well as a PR department in his publisher Little, Brown which he rules with an iron fist. He’s having a ball with it all.

His first book, The Thomas Berryman Number, was rejected 31 times before somebody at Little, Brown said ‘yeah, this is a winner’.

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The Poor Wealthy

It’s always distressing to see people who either have all the outward show of being intelligent and well-educated or who are in positions of power behaving like the village idiot, clearly incapable of stepping back from themselves enough to look in the mirror. Granted, it’s a difficult thing to do, but one of the drawbacks of having power is that you have to use it wisely and to do that you have to examine your motives.

This is not about morality, it’s about practicality. Wield your power irresponsibly and mindlessly and you’ll reign supreme for a while, but ultimately whoever you’re trampling on will rise up against you with a force that your power can’t overwhelm. I’m not just talking about despots either, although they illustrate this beautifully. There’s almost a formula for how events play out.

They gain power undemocratically, or even democratically. Then it goes to their head and they begin to bleed their subjects dry. They surround themselves with sycophants, and convince themselves that they’re acting in the country’s best interests. Eventually they’re fit only for the lunatic asylum. One day their subjects begin to say we’ve had enough. They protest. They’re ignored. Their protests get louder and more physical.

Protesters get brutalized, arrested, violated. They get angrier and more violent. Further suppression follows, bloody and violent. Surprisingly no doubt to the despot, their power isn’t so effective any more. They go into denial. Their sycophants start deserting them. The world either intervenes or doesn’t but severely criticizes them and they become outcasts. They insist they are doing nothing wrong.

They refuse to leave. They say they will die in the country that they were born in. The sycophants that are left beat their chests with bravado as they nervously look around them and calculate the odds. The rebellion doesn’t stop, no matter how much and how bloodily the subjects are violated, no matter how more sophisticated the despot’s weapons of suppression.

The despot goes down still protesting. It never happens any other way, unless the despot has some capacity to step outside of themselves to look at the consequences of their actions and get out sooner. As in Egypt. In countries where the democratic process is more sophisticated, the violence is mostly absent, but the process is the same.

It’s always the middle class that starts out naive and believing, willing to work like dogs for the sake of God and country. Proud of their democracy, proud that change happens peacefully and that they can have a hand in it. Not always able to grasp the extent to which their good-heartedness and commitment get exploited. Not always that able to step outside of themselves either and see that they’re letting themselves be doormats.

But democracy has an inherent flaw. It’s supposed to be the best system for the exercise of freedom. It would work well in a country where there’s no greed, where leaders and all politicians genuinely work for the better of the individual and the country as a whole. But failing that perfect scenario, gradually greed and power takes less and less responsibility (pays less and less tax) and exploits the good qualities of the middle class who pay more tax and get lower salaries until their morale and their lives are eroded beyond endurance.

The erosion has only one possible ending. People start to protest! A new leader emerges who sees that the danger isn’t just imminent, it’s upon the country, and something has to be done to restore the middle class, because it’s always the engine of any society. The leader wants the middle class to get its just rewards, and for the wealthy to pay fair tax. The powerful class clings panic-stricken to its position, terrified of giving an inch. Which nicely reveals exactly how powerful they really are.

What’s mind-boggling is the childish transparency of their excuses. Namely if you raise taxes for the wealthy they will leave the country, you will discourage investors (the implication being that they only invest in the US because they can exploit and not contribute their fair share). The best one is that you will be taxing all the small businesses who will fold and job creation will cease. Enter John Boehner, with that sulky look on his face, moaning about the poor wealthy.

It’s mindless. Pity the seemingly civilized, educated, sophisticated individual who appears to not have much better of an understanding of what makes society run smoothly than a Middle Eastern despot.