Monday, February 27

Self-Stimulating Intelligence

When I look back at my previous posts, the few that exist, I am fascinated. I try and remember what was going on in my life that might inspire what I managed to upload into the ether of the Internet. However, I don’t want to dwell on my analysis of my own writing, the act of which seems very self-aggrandizing and makes me uncomfortable.

The other day I was asked the question: “Did you ever think about the fact that some of the most intelligent conversations you'll ever have are not necessarily with another person?” This was in reference to one my earlier blogs regarding Intelligent Conversations. This friend was implying most of the intelligence occurs within your own head and not among your group of friends chugging watered-down pitchers for $2.50 at your local watering hole. Answering the question without thinking, I would assume one might say yes. My statement is justified by a typical conversation one might hear on the street about clothes, money, or “that girl is a real bitch and I can’t stand her!” I will admit, I have engaged in all of those at some point.

A little more thought reveals a drastically different point of view. I agree I sometimes feel I’m the only sane person left on Earth – a leading cause of isolationism – but the train of thought in my head is constantly derailing on tracks that were placed abysmally out of order. I find myself chasing my tail repeatedly until I figuratively hit my head against the wall, and either make a decision or completely leave the thought process. I would much rather share my ideas with someone and listen to their opinion versus keeping everything bottled up. When you confide in another person, you allow for other views to expand your horizon of thought and possibly lead the train down tracks you never knew existed. I can be very cynical and love playing Devil’s Advocate, but I still encourage people to throw ideas off me and tell me what is going through their head. I try to remove myself from any bias and objectively analyze a situation. It fosters healthy social interaction and opens the mind to new frontiers. Obviously the majority of discussions I have with my friends are simply “shooting the shit”, but I think the most intelligent conversations are held with people you know and respect, who are capable of building upon your own ideas in a constructive manner.

Out of Context

I don’t want to start this off giving the impression I am chronically depressed and think life is futile, which is not true. However, as you may know, life is not always cupcakes, and writing is my way of venting (HINT: That is why the topics here are not about sunshine and frolicking in fields of daisies). I become very pensive while I write, which creates a tone of seriousness. The creation of a blog entry actually requires quite a process. My mind generally has to have been obsessing about something more so than usual and I am forced to write it down to try and make sense of it. However, once I start writing, it becomes difficult to put my thoughts in the appropriate order and fully explain what I am trying to relate. Because of this, I have a number of unfinished entries lying around collecting dust. My hard drive is like the Island of Misfit Blog Ideas, ideas with great promise yet abandoned when I lose my inspiration or train of thought.

I find it eerily ironic how this issue has come to the forefront in my mind in the season of Mardi Gras. A friend who has read this blog once told me how much she appreciates the unabashed honesty I convey in my writing. We all wear masks around other people because we are always trying to make an impression. When I write, I don’t feel like I have to impress anyone or maintain a certain reputation. All of my walls come down and I can write how I really feel. It is my way of escaping the superficiality and hypocrisy of life through brief moments of keyboard honesty, something many of us find nearly impossible to do in everyday life. We feverishly toil on the maintenance of these “masks”, or lies we tell people everyday, both in the words we say, and the actions we take. Not the type of lie you say to keep yourself out of trouble, e.g. my dog ate my homework or I have a job as a foreign exchange arbitrager, yet in reality I am a bum living off of my parents, but the lie you perpetuate so people will maintain some opinion of you that you have created. The lies you create to protect yourself and your insecurities, your vulnerabilities, and aspects of your personality you are terrified of the world ever discovering. How many people do you think go through life, meet new people, get married, and have families while never compromising or eliminating the lies they have created around themselves? How many times have you been so honest with someone that you have lost control of your emotions and simply broken down into tears? And how many of us will never do that because we refuse to be that vulnerable around anyone?

But I am digressing from the reason I began writing this in the first place. I’m sure at some point you have felt misrepresented, perhaps by your own fault or by the faulty judgment of other people. People at their very core are extremely judgmental and our actions are no help in whether public opinion views you as too shy, too stupid, or too much of an asshole. So what happens when you have realized this facade, or these lies have festered a perverse misrepresentation of who you feel you truly are? That you’ve spent all this time developing a certain image only to finally realize its destructive behavior to yourself and the people you care about. Thinking this image is a ski lift taking you to new heights and the top of a mountain, only to be deposited not on fresh powder, but off a towering cliff. To feel like you cannot accept kind gestures and compliments from someone because you don’t deserve it after the way you have treated other people. And that for the rest of your life, certain people will judge you according to this behavior, people with whom you will never be given the opportunity to change their mind or are completely unaware of the little things you have done or are doing to try and become a better person.

To describe this entry as depressing might be an understatement. With my entries I usually try to include a resolution, which in this particular instance has been exceedingly difficult, though I will try. As I have said in an earlier blog, you cannot force people to change their opinions of you or other people. At the same time, you must not live in the past and continue to harp on what has already happened that you cannot change (advice I have stood by). Even when you want to become more honest, you cannot expect it to happen overnight, it may take years. All you can do is distance yourself from those who cannot see you in another light and try the best you can now and in the future to change for your own piece of mind, while hoping a few people realize and appreciate it, because to hope everyone will is a fantasy.

Monday, February 6

A Brokeback Moment

Two weeks ago I saw Brokeback Mountain, the new film directed by Ang Lee that is taking the country by storm. If you have not heard anything about it, you surely are living in a cave, perhaps in Afghanistan, perhaps with Osama bin Laden, and perhaps you should inform the authorities. However, the movie, set in 1960’s Wyoming, is the story of two cowboys who develop a relationship while herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain and the ensuing years of their struggle to hide this relationship from their friends and families. The movie has become quite a cultural phenomenon with everyone from TV personalities to my friends using it in their day-to-day vocabulary: “Another Brokeback Moment brought to you by Bud Light!”

The movie had a profound effect on me, not for the groundbreaking homosexual themes that have incredibly transcended all ideologies and phobias in this country, but for the overarching theme of the movie. As homosexuality is greatly frowned upon in the cowboy/ranching community they try, ultimately unsuccessfully, to keep their relationship a secret for over twenty years. Their fear of the consequences: destroying their families, and becoming pariahs lead them to discreetly meet twice a year back on Brokeback Mountain. While they continue normal lives, they long for a life together that in reality will never exist. Thus leading to the question:

Has there ever been a point(s) in life when you have been too afraid to take action when you should have or tell someone how you really feel?