Will I be confined by my DNA, or will I define who I am?

This is the central tension of Springsteen on Broadway: the self we feel doomed to be through blood and family versus the self we can—if we have the courage and desire—will into existence. Springsteen, as he reveals here, has spent his entire life wrestling with that question that haunts so many of us: Will I be confined by my DNA, or will I define who I am? … “Yeah…,” Springsteen says when I sit down with him a couple weeks later and tell him it seems the essential question of his show is “Are we bound by what courses through our veins?” He looks off to his left into his dressing-room mirror… It’s into this mirror and toward these talismans that Springsteen often gazes when he is answering my questions. He’s a deep listener and acts with intent. He has a calm nature and possesses a low, soft voice. He has a tendency to be self-deprecating, preemptively labeling certain thoughts “corny.” He smiles easily and likes to sip ginger ale. Sometimes before telling you something personal, he lets out a short, nervous laugh. Above all, he speaks with the unveiledness of a man who has spent more than three decades undergoing analysis—and credits it with saving his life…

Springsteen’s first breakdown came upon him at age thirty- two…On a late- summer night, in remote Texas, they come across a small town where a fair is happening. A band plays. Men and women hold each other and dance lazily, happily, beneath the stars. Children run and laugh. From the distance of the car, Springsteen gazes at all the living and happiness. And then: Something in him cracks open. As he writes, in this moment his lifetime as “an observer . . . away from the normal messiness of living and loving, reveals its cost to me.” All these years later, he still doesn’t exactly know why he fell into an abyss that night. “All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier. . . much heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. . . . Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I’ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them wrongly to isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others, and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking, and his payment’ll be in tears.”

~ Michael Hainey, from The Mind is a Terrifying Place. Even for Bruce Springsteen. (Esquire, November 27, 2018)

Deep Thought.


Source: Reno Gazette-Journal, Nevada, November 8, 1961

the only way to end this circuitous torture of self-obsession

russell-brand

AC: The self, which we worship at the moment, is actually a terrible prison. It’s a cage. You are trapped…When you get trapped in your own short term desires, it’s a cage…Maybe it’s good to escape from that daily grind of having to listen to your consciousness constantly saying that “I want this. I want this. I want this.” Which we are encouraged to believe is liberation…Maybe it’s not.

RB: I think you are quite right. Even pop spiritual orators such as Eckhart Tolle will say to you this incessant inner narrative, the relentless thinking – there’s no freedom in that. And watch where those thoughts take you. If I’m walking my dog in the field…this material reality is…I am a man, in a field with a dog. In my head what’s happening: “Oh God. Why did I do that for? This will probably go wrong. What’s going to happen?” …There is a self-imposed tyranny to that…

AC: People live inside their heads very much. Because they are encouraged to, that is the end point. But actually what’s going on in those heads are things that people don’t want to tell. Fear. Loneliness. Doubt. Because actually if you are going to be the right kind of individual, you mustn’t have that. You see that on social media at the moment…

RB: …Self is the relentless driven inner narrative…I myself have had to battle…I believe the disease of addiction has at its core a kind of circuitous self-centeredness that can only be ended, well first by removal of the initial substance…once those things are gone you recognize those drives are still present. What is it?! You become obsessed with food. You become obsessed with sex. You become obsessed with work and other people’s opinion. In the end you begin to recognize that the only way to end this circuitous torture of self-obsession is with ideas that have always been present in religious and spiritual doctrine, service, connectionin whose service is perfect freedom. It is so beautiful. You give yourself up…it is an idiom that implies that there is an upward transcendent trajectory.

~ Russell BrandIs Civilization Crumbling? With Adam Curtis. (Under the Skin. With Russell Brand. Podcast #50, March 24, 2018)

A Mind Divided

She’s a fellow blogger. She struggles with some ferocious demons. Here’s her story. I urge you to listen to the finish.

“A Reflection: Flickers in the Dark…How do you make a life out of ash? How do you move from the whole of the doily into the thread? For me, it started with flickers of light in my darkness…”

Moved…


Source: Sandy’s Blog @ A Mind Divided: “Flickers in the Dark” Reflection

 

Riding Metro North. With Sunbeam.

You think you might give me a run for it, but you can’t touch me. You can’t come close, not remotely close to my Superiority. Top 1% of the 1% in…

Mood Swings. 

Close your eyes and think bungee jumper, in an infinite loop, who’s boinging up and down in a zone which pulls up short of Bliss and a whisker from Abyss. Not too hot, but hot enough to pinch, and not too cold, but cold enough to feel frost bite, and once in a while tasting Despair, but never lallygagging in Euphoria.

It’s the 5:40 am train. I have the entire seat to myself on Metro North to NYC.

We’re operating on 4.5 hours of sleep, and hauling the wet slushy snow of accumulated sleep deprivation from the prior three days.  Eyes heavy. Shoulders heavy. Words from the morning papers slur together.  I set down the smartphone.

Tired. Sick and tired of being tired, and bored writing about tired. Tired³. [Read more…]

I just don’t want to dodge any of it. I just want to stand there, shirt open, and take my hits and see, and see

(Many) Excerpts from a remarkable interview where Brad Pitt Talks Divorce, Quitting Drinking, and Becoming a Better Man (GQ: May 3, 2017):

Pitt is the first one to acknowledge that it’s been chaos these past six months…he seems absolutely locked in one moment and a little twitchy and forlorn in the next, having been put on a journey he didn’t intend to make but admits was “self-inflicted.” …Any of my foibles are born from my own hubris… I often say the wrong thing, often in the wrong place and time. Often. In my own private Idaho… I don’t have that gift. I’m better speaking in some other art form. I’m trying to get better. I’m really trying to get better. […]

I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something. Something. And you realize that a lot of it is, um—cigarettes, you know, pacifiers. And I’m running from feelings. I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that. I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know—things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem…Don’t want to live that way anymore… And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that’s part of the human challenge: You either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve…

You strip down to the foundation and break out the mortar. I don’t know. For me this period has really been about looking at my weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street…I don’t know where it comes from, this hollow quest for justice for some perceived slight. I can drill on that for days and years. It’s done me no good whatsoever. It’s such a silly idea, the idea that the world is fair. And this is coming from a guy who hit the lottery, I’m well aware of that. I hit the lottery, and I still would waste my time on those hollow pursuits. […] [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With a Note to Todd.

It’s Sunday. Sun’s up and it’s warming. Squirrels are foraging, birds are pecking at the feeders, others chirp overhead in the trees, still bare and free of spring shoots.  Dickens had it right: “It was one of those March April days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Day of Sabbath. Day of Peace (should be). Several hours remain, and they are leaking fast – Monday’s calendar is already bullying its way in.

So why go here?

Because it goes where it wants.

It’s Friday afternoon, and voila, the appearance of a fortituous gap in the calendar. The elevator is racing down from the 39th floor to the Lobby.  I check the train schedule, 1:04 pm departure, 24 minutes to walk across town to Grand Central. Doable.  Fingers, eyes and mind skitter from the Metro North App, to iMessage, to Work email to Gmail.  The mental box continues to drop, one eye is on the floor indicator, like it might not stop on the ground floor and keep going. The stomach does a wee backflip and settles. Otis Elevator Man has this under control. How all this sh*t works is lost on me. Best I don’t know.

I step into the lobby and then onto Times Square.  A ZOO, even in the drizzle. I glance right, left, and across the street, the scene is Same – the jeweler on break for a smoke, the Construction worker with his florescent vest, the driver of the double decker tour bus, the traffic cop pausing between lights – all have their heads are down inside smart phones, and outside the World.

Me too.

I wait for the Walk sign, and it’s back to Gmail.  I pop open a WordPress notification from Todd’s blog – Bright, Shiny Objects, with the post titled: “Why?” I click the link, wait impatiently for the cell service to catch up, thousands of others doing the same at the same time, the rain, the overcast, the tall looming skyscrapers block satellite reception – it clears.  I chuckle, and whisper: “Truth.”  I punch out: “Great“, hit send, and the gremlins grab it and race off to Algoma, WI.

The signal turns to Walk.

I walk.

Six minutes later, my phone buzzes, the gremlin’s have raced back from Algoma with a reply from Todd:

How do you do it?[Read more…]

She just couldn’t feel the life she had.

epa-carrie-fisher-main-jef-161227_12x5_1600

She wanted so to be tranquil, to be someone who took walks in the late-afternoon sun, listening to the birds and crickets and feeling the whole world breathe. Instead, she lived in her head like a madwoman locked in a tower, hearing the wind howling through her hair and waiting for someone to come and rescue her from feeling things so deeply that her bones burned. She had plenty of evidence that she had a good life. She just couldn’t feel the life she had. It was as though she had cancer of the perspective.

– Carrie Fisher  (Oct 21, 1956 – Dec 27, 2016) from Postcards From the Edge

From The Honesty of Carrie Fisher by Lawrence Downes:

Who would have predicted that this product of Hollywood inbreeding — Ms. Fisher called herself that — would have turned celebrity dysfunction into such a memorable body of writing? Her semi-autobiographical novel “Postcards From the Edge,” and memoirs like “Wishful Drinking” and “Shockaholic,” are hilarious, bluntly beautiful and deserve as much lasting recognition as her contributions to the “Star Wars” franchise…And when she wrote about depression and addiction, she had a humaneness and directness that feel honest. Like her description of bipolar disorder:

“Imagine having a mood system that functions essentially like the weather — independently of whatever’s going on in your life. So the facts of your life remain the same, just the emotional fiction that you’re responding to differs. It’s like I’m not properly insulated.”

And here’s to her honesty: “I heard someone once say we’re only as sick as our secrets,” Ms. Fisher wrote in “Wishful Drinking.” “If that’s true, then this book will go a long way to rendering me amazingly well.”


Notes: Quote Source – Hidden Sanctuary. Photo: ABCnews.com

Stop the World

twitter-addiction-social-media

The truth is, I feel like yelling Stop quite a bit these days. Every time I hear about Twitter I want to yell Stop. The notion of sending and getting brief updates to and from dozens or thousands of people every few minutes is an image from information hell. I’m told that Twitter is a river into which I can dip my cup whenever I want. But that supposes we’re all kneeling on the banks. In fact, if you’re at all like me, you’re trying to keep your footing out in midstream, with the water level always dangerously close to your nostrils. Twitter sounds less like sipping than drowning.

The most frightening picture of the future that I’ve read thus far in the new decade has nothing to do with terrorism or banking or the world’s water reserves—it’s an article by David Carr, the Timess media critic, published on the decade’s first day, called “Why Twitter Will Endure.” “I’m in narrative on more things in a given moment than I ever thought possible,” Carr wrote. And: “Twitter becomes an always-on data stream from really bright people.” And: “The real value of the service is listening to a wired collective voice … the throbbing networked intelligence.” And: “On Twitter, you are your avatar and your avatar is you.” And finally: “There is always something more interesting on Twitter than whatever you happen to be working on.”

This last is what really worries me. Who doesn’t want to be taken out of the boredom or sameness or pain of the present at any given moment? That’s what drugs are for, and that’s why people become addicted to them. Carr himself was once a crack addict. Twitter is crack for media addicts. It scares me, not because I’m morally superior to it, but because I don’t think I could handle it. I’m afraid I’d end up letting my son go hungry.

~ George Packer, Stop the World


Notes:

Over and over it plays

art-sketch-woman-portrait

I hate that my mind
revolves around a single thought,
stuck in a sort of endless loop.
Over and over it plays,
wearing away at sanity.

~ Dau Voire


Notes: Artist: Raluca Vulcan Artpage via Mennyfox55. Quote: theGoodvibe.co

 

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