14 July 2007

Some Thoughts On Blogging and My Life In General

Originally posted this to my MySpace blog at 1:53 this mornin'.

I was, and still am, in a pretty shitty mood regarding a number of messages and blog posts there to which I'd received no response, and this essay reflects that.

It also reflects, I think, a long-standing sort of unease, cynicism and outright despair that I often have.

It can be very frustrating, as many of you out there already know better than I, just how disappointing life, on- or off-line can be, and just how tempting the desire to pack it all in, and say, in the immortal(and immoral)words of Eric Cartman, "Screw you guys. I'm going home."

It's tempting and easy to do, but it can't always be, nor shouldn't be, done.

Anyway, thanks to the people who responded to my post on "Random Thoughts Of A 42 Year Old Autistic Man", for the positive posts and the support. To the latter poster, I also want to say that have not forgotten you, and will send you an e-mail within the next several days. Again, thank you so much for posting your comments here. Now, if more people only had the interest or the guts, I'd be a happier camper than I am.

But, then again, maybe it ain't the quantity of the comments, but the quality that matters. Maybe. I don't know.

See what you think of the post below and decide for yourselves.

As some of you out there have probably noticed(I have very little idea myself), have been blogging quite a lot over this week almost past.

Most of these have consisted of link blogs.

Well, right now, and probably for quite a long time to come, am taking a break from churning out link blogs like their sausage counterparts.

Instead, this entry is a Helluva lot more personal, and concerns two subjects, the first being blogging, and Internet activity in general from my worm's eye view, and the second is a set of ramblings of how I feel about myself and the world immediately around me.

That said, let's have at it.

The rewarding thing about blogging, whether here or on my other blog, is being able to get the various thoughts, ideas, notions, whatever, in my head out without worrying about length, content, language or other restrictions, other than the ones stipulated in the various service contracts here on MySpace or at Blogspot.com.

It's my way of communicating with a world that is, whether I like it or not, largely ignorant of and indifferent to my existence.

I can share essays and pictures that would otherwise be seen by only a very, very few people, if at all.

Those are the advantages of blogging as far as I can see, and they are substantial.

The dis-advantages of blogging are that, for whatever reasons, my posts, of whatever sort, can be ignored, and, to me, that's even worse than someone posting a hostile response to a particular blog post of mine, because, unlike hostile posts, which means that someone has actually taken the time to read, or mis-read, a particular post of mine, and gotten emotionally involved enough to post a counter-response to it, indifference and ignorance can, in its very silence, say to me that either no one reads the bloody stuff I put up, or, if they do, for one reason or another, it makes little to no impact on them.

I find that quite discouraging at times, to say the least.

It also feeds a certain kind of nagging insecurity that I've had for much of my life that anything and everything I touch is doomed to fail, for one reason or another.

I had it when I did poetry here in town, and with other creative endeavours as well, including my pics.

So. Why continue to do them, you might ask????

The answer is, there are a lot of things, like poetry I no longer do, because I felt I wasn't getting the sort of positive reinforcement that I wanted, I felt alienated from much of the poetry crowd, just as later, I would feel alienated from much of the arts crowd here, and so on.

In fact, alienation has been, and will continue to be, at least for the foreseeable future, my lot in life, or at least much of it.

Some of this may be due to the autism, and to the rather hyper-sensitive physical and psychological reactions I have to external stimuli. In some respects, and, yes, I often congratulate myself on this, though perhaps for undue reason, on NOT having succumbed to a drinking habit or drug habit, aside from the nicotine that I in-take daily, and the prescription drugs I take under doctor's orders, years ago.

The temptations have been there, and are there, should I decide to do so.

I've thought of suicide so many times I can't even begin to count, though these thoughts are less and less as I age, and believe me, I am VERY conscious of aging, thank you very much.

I always have been, from the time I was a tot, until now.

Loneliness and I are old companions, as are frustration and I, and, for those of you who read my entry on advice to younger auties may have seen, it's a strong theme with me in my life.

I have often longed for the "Big Breakthrough", so romanticised in novel, poem, play and film, where, at a climactic point in the protagonist's story, he or she experiences a life-changing event, or has a tremendous, usually life-affirming, realisation of some sort, his or her life turns right 'round, like a record spinning right 'round, and, by the end, there is usually some sort of happy ending or another, unless, of course, one's going for the tragic effect, and it all just falls to shit.

Even biographies and histories follow this basic story-telling structure, and there's just one problem with it in my view-it is just so much complete and utter horse shit that, if it were real horse shit, it'd be decorating the bottom of a stable stall or corral someplace.

Life, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to realise this, doesn't fall neatly into those narrative conventions, especially when one is living it, period.

It's messy, tiresome, often boring, sometimes nasty and frightening, and isn't stuffed full of grand adventures and the like, at least for most folks.

But, it's also not completely dreary and dull, as some schools and works of fiction, like the old British "kitchen sink" plays and films, would portray it, either.

It is what it is, and we are, within our limitations imposed on us by genetics, raising, society, economics and history, what we are.

Yes, we can BE better than we might otherwise be, but that takes a Helluva lot of effort , time and energy, and, at times, can be weariful, especially when it seems to bear little or no fruit at all.

Being an arsehole mightn't seem to take as much time, energy, etc, and bear far greater fruit than the former. But, and here's the rub, Folks, it actually takes as much energy and time to be one as it does to even try to be marginally better than that.

Also, the rewards may be greater, but, and as an agnostic verging on atheist, am speaking of THIS life only, the punishments, even if only in terms of the growing number of regrets that one has as one gets older, are more severe, and severely dealt out.

But, that's entirely off topic of what this discussion started out to be, so, am gonna curtail that for the moment.

Whether blogging, e-mailing, or other form of on-line activity I've engaged in in the decade since I first got onto the 'Net, there have been times when I've been completely and utterly disappointed by the lack of responses to a particular post, picture, etc, and, especially if I'd high hopes for its impact, felt especially crushed by it.

There have been times on-line where I've been pleasantly surprised that anyone responded at all, and that the response was as positive as it was. It's been responses like that, however scattered at times they've seemed to me, that have kept me going.

That, and the feeling, often borne out by circumstance in my off-line life, that there really wasn't anything going on in that life to pull me away from the 'Net, and that is quite true now.

I've no substantial ties to the community, some good friends here, but no family aside from the Cats, am not a member, at least currently, of any local clubs, societies,etc, and, while I might want to be, am also on a limited income that I've to stretch out over the course of a month as best I can.

I used to go out much more than I have in recent years, and part of that was because I lived down-town, and had better access to bus transport than I do now, living here in Northeastern Vegas.

Also, there's the amount of time it takes to get to much of Vegas from where I live by bus, plus the problem drinking I did at some of the various First Fridays in recent years, where, on some occasions, I got into fist fights with people while in a drunken rage or two, and am quite lucky that I'm neither imprisoned, severely injured or dead as a result.

The last First Friday I attended, back in March, and I actually came well after 10:00 PM, when the official festivities had ended, and hung out until 7:00 in the morning at the Art Bar, drinking Coke the whole night, and had a decent enough time, all well and good.

My therapist once asked me, after my last fight, to analyse WHY I drank as much as I did at First Fridays. At the time, I was hard-pressed to give her an answer of any sort.

Now, I think I can give a partial answer, but, even then, I am suspicious of it being the entire truth.

It is an utter lack of social confidence, combined with loneliness, a desire to bond with other people, and to lose my inhibitions. Who knows, part of me thinks, I just might get lucky, though the overwhelming evidence from my life thus far says firmly otherwise.

All that said, those reasons might have barely worked, when I was younger, but, in fact, they never really did, and they sure as Hell don't work now that I'm in early middle age.

It may help for a short time to assuage whatever pain I'm feeling, or to boost my self-confidence, but, it's a chimera, a ghost, a spook, an illusion, and decidedly un-real, to boot.

Again, I've got off the original subject, but, this time, please bear with me here, because this, along with everything else, ties into what this essay's about.

Being on-line can and does help me cope with some of the loneliness and alienation that I feel, if, at times, even just providing me with a few hours of diversion by looking up subjects in which I'm interested.

In that way, it's far superior to drunkeness, I can tell you that.

I can, and have, communicated with people in other parts of the world whom I've otherwise have not met.

I've got back in touch with old friends and acquaintances, some of them here on MySpace, whom I otherwise wouldn't ever have seen nor heard from again.

But, there are also times when I hear from no one, or almost no one, and the e-mail in-box and Friends Request section here are full of spam messages and the like, and there are no responses to the messages I send out, and I fucking despair of the whole thing.

It's not all at once, mind you, but is an acculmulation of small incidents and objects over what can be a very short period of time, and I struggle with myself, and struggle with myself, and struggle with myself, until I feel I can take no more, and then I have to find some way of letting off the building steam.

This is really the first time that I've deliberately tried putting down much of how I feel and why down in blog form.

I find this exceedingly helpful, even if only temporarily, in order to keep myself from launching myself into the waters of Self-Pity and eventually going through the Desert of Rage, and ending up in the Slough of Despond, as I have in the past.

Self-pity is, and can be, an exceedingly destructive emotion, especially because when I'm engaged in it, the temptation to play the martyr, the victim, the wronged hero comes right out, and it is as ugly as it is silly and farcical.

I often war with myself about how and what I should feel about this, that and the other, and that may be part of the burden I carry as an autie. But, then again, it may simply also be part of the burden I carry as a human being, who is alive and conscious.

The worst part about self-pity for me, though, is that, even in its depths, I can't escape the fact that I've not always been the ever-considerate, ever-responsive, ever-kind and capable human being I'd like to be in my day dreams, and I've a lot of day dreams, thank you very much.

I've not always been a complete arsehole, either. Just, more often than not, more of a procrastinator in meaning to get back to some people's messages, or meaning to do this, that or the other.

But, that is, however, un-meant, still inconsiderate, etc, and just as hurtful to those who sent me the messages in the first place as the lack of response from others is to me.

That's a lesson I'm still learning, and often the hard way, thanks.

I can't and won't say that, from this day forth, I will never procrastinate in sending a response to a message, blog post, whatever,ever again, because I probably will, at some or another.

What I can do is to limit the number of occasions on which that happens and to constantly remind myself of how I would feel if the situation were reversed. It's not a fool-proof formula, but it's the best I can come up with now.

Also, I do remind myself, even if it frustrates and angers me much of the time, that I may send messages, post blog entries, what have you, but there's no law stating that everyone I send the bloody things to, or who see the posts, etc, HAS to respond to my messages, posts, etc.

There's a sense of entitlement lurking not so far behind those sentiments that, "Goddamn it!!! I'm intelligent, sensitive, sophisticated, etc. WHY AREN'T people responding to MY messages and posts???!!!", blah-de-blah-blah, yakety-schmakety.

Well, the more reasonable, or is it, side of me says, "Who said they have to???".

Good point, I think.

No one, unless it's an official communication from some sort of governmental body with enforcement powers, HAS to respond to anything if they don't bloody well want to.

That goes for me, you, and the rest of y'all out there, and, while it often sucks dead donkey dicks by the pale moonlight, there it is, large as life and twice as ugly.

People respond, quite often for reasons maybe only semi-beknownst to themselves, to messages, posts, ad campaigns, whatever form of communication you care to name, because there's something about that particular bit of communication that grabs them enough to respond.

Name any field of human endeavour that involves communication, and you'll see that principle in action.

Advertisers and other professional opinion makers study the various techniques currently available for grabbing people's attention and keeping it, and, a good portion of the time, they work. Other times, not.

But, as much as I'd like to be in such a field, not advertising so much, as film, photography and similar forms of artistic endeavour, I'm NOT a professional, I don't know many of these techniques, in fact, I don't think I know any of 'em, and that's that.

I'm just a 42 year old autie, single with two cats, living in Las Vegas, Nevada, who tries, and sometimes succeeds, sometimes fails, and sometimes just muddles through in spite of himself, to do the best he can with what he has.

Yes, I want something more than that, but, I don't get out of the house very often, so my chances of that happening, particularly in a big way, are pretty slim.

I still hold out hope, and, if there's one thing that writing these personal blogs, as opposed to some of the more political stuff, and especially the link blogs here, has given me, it's something of a bit of confidence that I actually can write, and write well when I want.

It's not journalistic material, by any means. The sentences would have to be much shorter and concisely worded than they are in my writings here.

It's not poetry, of which I've little knowledge of and desire to know technical points like metrical forms and such. But, I use alliteration, repetition of words and phrases, puns, what have you, in my prose to spice it up, and, at the risk of sounding grotesquely pleased with myself, I often enjoy doing it.

In fact, even when writing a grimly worded political essay, if you were in my living room with me as I was composing it, you would often hear the sound of my laughing at a joke, or two, or ten, I put into it(Truly, the sign of a bad comedian is one who supposedly laughs at his own jokes. At the same time, if a comedian doesn't laugh at his own material, how does he know it's any good, if no one else's around???).

I've often laughed at my own jokes, and at other people's, in the various messages, blog posts, etc, I've seen, and especially in the last few days here.

Thank God.

I don't have to laugh all the time, nor to cry, which I don't often do, and is probably not good for me that I don't do so more often, nor to be angry, etc.

But, am glad I've those opportunities to, just as I am to get this sort of thing out, for others to see, or not, as is their fancy.

This doesn't mean that I've worked everything all out, and that everything will be all right from now on, because I'm feeling sooo much better, thank you very much.

There probably will be times I will fall into states like the one I was in when I started this essay this evening-turned-early morning.

So be it.

After all, I, like any other human being, am prone to changing moods which are, in turn, dependent on the varying circumstances I find myself in.

That's part of being a living being.

Remaining in a static mood is part of being dead, i.e, no damned mood at all, 'cos you're fucking deader than a stump. That, and rotting, but don't let's go into that now, shall we????

So, I'll continue to blog here, send messages and responses from time to time, and keep doing whatever the Hell it is I do here, because I feel like it, and, because, for the moment at least, I've no-where else better to go, and nothing better to do.

If y'all see something in this that strikes your fancy enough to respond, go for it. Nothing would please me more.

If not, well, it'll hurt, but I won't automatically drop you from my Friends list, either. Not for a relatively trifling bit like that.

Send me something massively personally insulting, racist, anti-Semitic, or flood me with spam messages;yeah, I'll drop ya, and like a hot rock in the middle of the Southern Nevada desert on a Mid-Summer day, too.

Those are good reasons, I think, for doing that, not failing to respond, however frustrating I might find it.

Just please remember, I ain't made of steel, just as you're not. So, if I fail, lemme know, OK???

Thanks for your time, and, if you've actually made this far, your patience in reading this. Much appreciated that you had enough of both to spare for this.

Be seeing you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don - as you've known for a long time, I am a big proponent of something called the Enneagram. Although I am not autistic and don't have the same set of psychological conditions you might be experiencing, I swear by this particular bit of what some might call "pop psychology". (Others, if they take the time to investigate it, will find that the Enneagram has deep historical roots, going back to the Kabbalah, the ancient Greeks, the Sufi Muslims, the Jesuits, as well as more contemporary thinkers like Oscar Ichazo and G.I. Gurdjieff.

I have to say that learning the Enneagram (it is not so much a philosophy as a dynamic system of understanding the human psyche), has really changed the way I interrelate with people, on a deep level. Also on a superficial, day-to-day, practical level.

I was introduced to the Enneagram in 1991, in Senator Harry Reid's office in Washington, by his then-Office Manager, an Alabama native named Lena Smith. I discussed my innermost struggles with having left a budding medical career, to follow what was really my first love -- politics and public policy. She instantly intuited what I was trying to explain, and handed me a book called, simply, "Personality Types" by one Don Richard Riso.

The rest, for me, was history. And a very positive history, I might add, in terms of understanding not just myself, but others. And relating much more knowledgeably and confidently to other human beings. The more, and the deeper, I studied the Enneagram, the more these profound revelations about human nature penetrated my mind. And they remain there still.

"Personality Types" was but the first book written by Riso (a former Jesuit and perhaps the world's foremost contemporary Enneagram expert). He's now written several more books, along with Russ Hudson. Together, they run the Enneagram Institute in the Bay Area.) Each book has unlocked more profound revelations and has deepened my understanding of human nature.

I'm a lawyer now, but in medical school, in the late 80's, I excelled in BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE, which was their term for all things psychological. On the National Board of Medical Examiners basic sciences exam, I received the highest possible score in Behavioral Science -- and that was BEFORE I was introduced to the Enneagram.

But it was only AFTER I was introduced to the Enneagram that everything about human psychology REALLY started to make sense. Everything I learned from the Enneagram meshed perfectly with everything I knew about Behavioral Science, yet the Enneagram took that several levels further.

Moreover, all of it meshed perfectly with everything I had learned in med school about the structure of the human brain, human neuroanatomy and neurophysiology.

I felt like a light of true understanding had descended upon me.

Again, the Enneagram is not a pop philosophy or pop psychology, but a true, practical, and revelatory dynamic system for understanding the human mind, and the differences between people. It is profoundly, undeniably rooted in the realities of biology and neurology. Yet is it as practical as knowing how to drive a car, or dressing oneself. And the more you read, and the deeper you understand this DYNAMIC SYSTEM, the more you should be able to understand yourself (and your own mind), and other people (and their motivations). You will not only be able to understand and predict other people's behavior to an uncanny degree, you'll also be able to truly forgive them when their behavior deviates from your expectations, or your wants.

I strongly recommend exploration of the Enneagram.


--Joe Tangredi