Continuing Education: Three Lessons

Continuous education.  That’s basically life, but at times, it’s a delicate balancing act.  You want to stay level headed and open minded enough to take in the new information and experiences…while also staying mindful enough of the past lessons so you don’t end up repeating them, especially the ones that left you bruised on your ass.

Three of the biggest things I’ve realized over the past six months:

bullSelf-Bullshitting.  We all do it, and that’s fine, as long as it’s not about the big things.  It’s why I think I had to shift away from the orthodoxy of a lot of personal development stuff.  I stopped buying into most of it, because even the paid partisans of self actualization appear to be bullshitting themselves to anyone who gets to know them well enough.  To paraphrase Andrew Shepherd of “The American President”, it’s not that they don’t get it, it’s that they can’t sell it.  On the flipside, it is true that people’s capacities for self-deception are sometimes so obvious that you really wonder how they themselves can’t see it.  That’s just how blind spots work, I guess.

Self-bullshit, as a habit, is a little like people who eat fruit at the grocery store before they pay for it, or kids who bite their siblings when Mommy isn’t watching: you know it’s going to happen no matter what you do, but you still have to prevent it. It’s not healthy, and it invites other problems.  Do your best not to bullshit yourself.  That’s all you can do.

generation-yMen are weak.  Really, I’m starting to understand this on a much more substantial level than I have before.  I’m choosy about my buddies, most of whom were my Fraternity brothers in university, making them generally four or five notches above the average dude. I was raised pretty well by my mom and given solid worldly skills and values by my dad.  And though I’ve had my fill of the standard “Ra-ra-ra!” style of personal development, I’m still into becoming the next greatest version of myself.  Never quite there, but at least I have my shit mostly together.

By contrast, Gen Y guys overall seem really fucked up these days.  A recent blog called them out on it: they hide behind online dating but never actually go to meet the girls they message; they cultivate all sorts of vices and think it’s cool; they don’t read; they don’t write; they can’t control their anger and then get pissed off at stupid shit, like the loss of a sports team; they can’t get real jobs or even try looking.  Either that, or they get emotionally codependent and whiny when they don’t get their way with sex or affection.

Some even still kick it old school, become successful in business, with money, with health and wellness….and then proceed to treat the women in their lives like shit because of their own narcissism, and sense of entitlement.  I bitch about having returned home to live for two years, but I can actually get myself out.  Some of these guys never have, and don’t even want to try.  Even a token effort counts for something.

Frankly, I’m far from perfect, and there are women who have their share of issues, too, but I’m starting to see my own value relative to the meat market.

captainpike

By rights, I should simply enjoy the benefits of being an imperfect yet high value single guy and just let the rest of the Gen Y man-child culture eat its own tail while I prosper, but these assholes are making things that much harder for the rest of us simply by virtue of their being assholes.  This has to stop, guys. Seriously, grow the fuck up.

Labels:  This is a big one. I’m talking relationships now.  Labels on things are really meant for other people to see. And yes, sometimes we really need them.  Whenever we’re really invested in something or someone, we need to step up and risk losing everything to declare that it’s everything that we want. I get that.

Other times, though, it’s better to just be in the moment while knowing just for yourself what you want in the long run. Consider the choice between “relationship” and “casual”.  Linguistic conveniences, really, but language is a social phenomenon, meaning that much of the time, the labels only serve to make it easier to explain to outsiders the nature of the girl or guy you’re hanging around all the time.

But you don’t need a label for yourself when it’s just yourself: you simply need an intention and a decision.  What are you looking to get out of this experience?  What will you decide to do with the time?  Even if the person only mostly fits what you’re seeking, you may feel you want to experience that just to see what happens, to enjoy the delights of the experience itself.  And that’s fair. Just don’t bullshit yourself.

So, ignore the labels if you want to. Enjoy your fun, sexy time. Yes, you may develop affection for the other person, but affection for someone doesn’t always mean life-long love, the same way heat doesn’t always equate to scalding: it can just be warm.  If the person you’re with is giving you what you’re looking for, then stick with them.  And if they stop, or if it’s obvious at the outset that the relationship will have an upper limit to where you can take it, then take it to that limit, and walk away with gratitude when it’s over.  It’s the way it should go, not the way it usually does, but at least we can try.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

If the divorce experience has taught me anything, it’s that all relationships have an expiration date.  All fires burn down.  Our mistake is in thinking that love conquers all.  It doesn’t, not always.  On the other hand, sometimes the “expiration date” of a relationship is indeed when one partner actually expires, and it’s those kinds of love that we tend to revere.  We should also cherish the relationships that last a few weeks or months or years, those intense passions and intimacies, burning bright and fast….but not long.   And if you know ahead of time, or in the long run, that it’s going to run its course, then run the course with delight.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Off to bed, now that my head cache is empty.

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