Rolling with punches

I am not short. Not really tall – but I suppose that all this is a matter of perspective. But perspectives and realities of length change and shift after years of riding a desk and huddling over a laptop, standing tall is something I need to remind myself of.

Then there are times when the blows come too fast, too effectively, striking the weaknesses we work so hide to protect. In times like these the urge to curl into a protective ball physically and metaphorically appears to be the only viable option.

It is here where the impulse to run, hide and forget – to lose oneself in fantasy, dreams or the narcotic (from the Greek “to make numb”) substance of choice. My own inclinations lean towards unhealthy food and enough red wine to float a rhino, to which pop psychology deduces deep-rooted insecurity. But I will rebut, if I had the energy, that easy answers mean that you are asking the wrong questions. Never mind that – focus.

Booze and calories are a brief narcotic bringing short lived relief and a nasty aftertaste (hangover would be a cheap pun) of additional guilt, anxiety and the beginnings of a wicked downward spiral of self-loathing.

But the pain I try to avoid is artificial, brought about by false dependencies and a lack of personal moral independence. No matter how real I make it feel.

And yet it is here in the depths of self-created misery that growth occurs. Failure is the true manure of growth. Success and love relaxes and breeds complacency. So it is important to recognize this as the shitty bottom a learning curve. No place to go but up. As the window of self-loathing closes I pull myself up and stand tall to disguise my made-up pain and bring this self-deception of defeat to its knees.

My therapeutic act is to write this in a public place making those who I know read this space and the casual visitors part of my recovery.

Undone by success

There is a growing trend in Facebook bashing (a type of conservatism claiming that the original versions of Facebook were best), Facebook criticism (Facebook would be better if only one detail or another were changed), Facebook denial (Facebook is never going to be useful/important/worthwhile), Facebook disbelivers (what is Facebook good for) and anti-Facebook purists (Never used, never will use FB).

Whether you are a FB believer or happy user or belong to a basher group it is difficult to ignore the fact that FB is being used to an amazing degree.

Some bashers, for example, Cory Doctorow: How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook“. (Nov 2007) explain that FB will collapse because eventually you will have to accept people you dislike to be your FB friends. Cory writes:

For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there’s a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I’d cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, “Am I your friend?” yes or no, this instant, please. ”

So I agree with these types of criticism eventually someone, or several someones, will demand to be added. We are back in the seventh grade playground and you are (once again?) no longer the center of your own world – which was the promise of a FB centric world.

My problem, and subsequently my form of FB bashing, is that it is not that the creepy people that concern me but rather all the nice, harmless, friendly, acquaintances that want to be my friends. At present I have just under 200 friends on FB, but the strange thing is that most of my “offline” friends don’t have FB accounts. In reality, and this may be a sad admission, I don’t have almost 200 friends. Many of the people who have befriended my on FB are acquintances (which is ok), online contacts (which is ok) but many are people whom I do not know – which is almost creepy.

Therefore to me the reason FB will fail is that it will never actually do anything. It’s goal, and measure of success is the amount of friends – but achieving this goal is not difficult if you do not care who you add as friends.

But I guess this argument rests on the foundation that Facebook has a point. If it is pointless then I don’t know.

Secure Connection Failed

Clicked on a link and ended up here! Been online for a long time now – never seen this one before…

I have erased the name of the site to protect those involved 🙂

The value of hunger

Towards the end of The Godfather (1972) Vito Corleone has handed over his business to his son and he admits to getting more tired, older and less interested. He sums it all up with the words: “I like to drink wine more than I used to.” What the old man was saying was that he had lost his edge, his competitiveness – his hunger.

Not long ago I blogged about the importance of failure on daring to fail and learning from failure, instead of trying to forget it ever happened, but what is needed before this is the desire, drive, hunger to move ahead. Now hunger in situations like this is a strange thing since it is not really the same thing as wanting something – these are easily confused.

Wanting something is easy and requires no effort. I want to run a marathon, pass an exam, write a book or travel the world. Wants are cheap and plentiful. Hunger on the other hand is the drive that is required to acheive a want. It’s easy enough to quote Nike’s old slogan: Just do it! but actually doing it is not that easy.

Hunger comes and goes – there are plenty of tips and tricks around not to let your hunger be frizzled unneccessarily due to lack of some other need (sleep, food, exercise or time) but what can be done to ensure that the hunger remains within us?

Sorry if this seems like a strange rant – its just something that bugged me today.

The importance of failure

Via Boing Boing I came across J.K. Rowling’s Commencement Address at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. Her address was entitled The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination (online with video here).

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

We focus much too often on success, believing that it will teach us something we study success. Unfortunately we are too quick to ignore failure, despite the fact that failure would probably teach us more. Even on a personal level failure teaches us more than success. We learn more from unpleasantness.

Photo: band – failure is not an option by Leo Reynolds (CC by-nc-sa)