I’m back with “Late Night Journal” folks. I know, I always say that, and then: poof! I disappear in a purple mist. But, I want to make this type of post more regularly.
It’s interesting though, I feel like this is the “Meta Journal” because I’m taking this entry to speak about the journal itself. I’m super happy because well, I’ve published quite a bit in this blog already, and I know it needs a redesign, it needs love and patience, and maybe some money cause I’m a lousy web designer (well, not a web designer at all actually) so… I know, I know…
But on the other side, I’m so thankful for all of you who read me despite my awful blog design and even the annoying, scammy-looking ads that WordPress.com decided to put on it (cheap suckers!). I will fix these things, I’ve just been quite broke after I lost my second job as I told you in the past, but guess what? Guess, guess! Yes, after some terrible interviews, weeks of anxiety, and harassing my recruiter, I landed a new job and my main purpose after taking the needed portion to adjust my family’s finances (the recession is hitting like a freaking bitch), is to start a big savings plan to raise some capital for both my online training business (technology related) and of course, for my artistic projects. I’m so thrilled!
Folks, feel free to feel happy for me, this is the result of so much suffering, believe me, if you like underdog stories, I’m your guy!
So what’s up with the journal?
Yeah, right! Thanks for reminding me, fellows!
Because I’m already dedicating most of my after-work time to my projects, it’s become a lot lately, so much so that I’ve had to rethink my time management strategies and reprioritize. And so, you don’t see me posting “Late Night Journals” that often since I’m also posting short stories and writing exercises mainly.
But something interesting has been going on for a few months, every now and then, when I have a new follower or a new like in my blog posts, guess where it usually comes from?
From my “Late Night Journals”! Of course!
So I’ve been wondering why this is so. I mean, I like them and I like writing them, but I honestly thought folks would feel more attracted to other pieces like articles on culture or poems, etc.
So I asked my wife since she’s super smart and a good observer and she told me: “people like to know about other people’s lives”. Ha! Interesting, it’s simple but it’s powerful, indeed the “Late Night Journal” is the most personal type of post I make.
In any case, I want to listen to my audience and I will start writing again the type of content you’ve shown a preference for. Because you know what? Your support makes me bolder, it encourages me to fight harder, be more disciplined and achieve the many things I’ve told you about in this blog, my dreams of art and freedom, my stories, and my thoughts on how to contribute to the lives of others! I want to inspire you, not by being perfect but by being brave.
“Fuck this, he’s the stupid one, he’s the useless one!”
Marco slammed the door, as a loud voice kept yelling unintelligible words, words that couldn’t be grasped, but whose sound could be understood by anyone, in any language.
As the distance grew and the voice faded, the boiling anger in his chest started to hurt him, betraying him, because he was keeping it in store for the bitter man back at the cottage, who clearly wanted him out of his life, but couldn’t bring himself to abandon him.
Marco believed this inability to act on his real feelings wasn’t a matter of decency, but plainly a fear of rejection, it was a small town and single parents were frowned upon, let alone one who abandons his teenage kid.
-“If he isn’t bold enough to leave, or kick me out, I will leave instead, I’ll find something, I’m old enough to make some money on my own.” He murmured as he hastened his pace and clenched his fists.
But he knew better than this, he was a good student with top grades, and he also had a very detailed plan for his life. Deep inside he knew this rejection, this constant reproach was his curse to bear, his price to pay. If he just managed to hold on for a couple more years he would go to college, miles away from the home that wasn’t a home any longer, but barely a shelter for the homeless; that is, himself.
But he walked, he used to walk. More and more, his weekends were becoming lonely walks, talking to himself and building fantasies. In these day dreams he became smarter than anyone else, he became wealthy and successful, he could see himself returning to town driving a car like no one in that miserable place has ever seen, and buying the biggest farms, just to let every crop wither, every animal die, and not a single soul would be able to do anything about it for he was now the owner and master of that stinky place.
-“Imagine the old man, making up excuses, ashamed, trying to explain why his son is such a disgrace, such a ruthless bastard”.
As time passed, the anger slowly evaporated, and when he was far from everything, he would let the pain take over and cry where no one could see him. He would just sit and cry by the creek because once he did, he felt like he was able to make it through another week.
Those tears, he thought, were like scales in his eyes that blinded him and wouldn’t let him see things for what they were; for it was only after dropping them on the grass that he would start noticing the small things he knew he would miss once he departed for his new life: the colorful birds chirping, singing and dancing like the ancient ancestors summoning the rain; the flowers enduring the wind, never defeated by it, and the wild hares who seemed to always be plotting schemes just like he did during his lonesome afternoons.
But this time, something was different. After the blinding tears came out, it felt like the air cleared and all that surrounded him, even nature’s ongoing celebration had stopped and became solemn, and silent. This made him feel uneasy, but also moved him into action, so he started walking further than usual.
After a few minutes, he approached the abandoned mine, a ghostly place that served as a natural boundary with the closest village; none of the other kids in town liked being there, but then again, it felt like a better place to be than back home.
Something red was moving, actually flapping, near the entrance to the mine; this wasn’t an animal or a plant, it was something entirely different, something that was put there by someone, something with a purpose. He felt like going back to the creek, but couldn’t ignore the mesmerizing object, agitated by the wind.
Taking a deep breath, the slender teen drew near and crouched to look closely: it was a flag. A flag! From every single possibility of what could be found in that place, he found a small, red flag playfully moving, planted in the middle of nowhere.
This time he really felt like running away; was he being observed? Was this a prank? A snare? He looked around him, his heart was pumping faster: not a single soul. Even nature seemed mute, expectant, holding its sounds and motions, waiting for him to dig.
He couldn’t run away, he’d made it all this way to make this discovery, he had to see it through. Besides, there was not much else to do and this was far more entertaining than doing his usual pencil drawings, sitting by the creek.
Using a piece of wood he found, he started digging; at first sight, it didn’t seem like the pole was too long, but to his surprise, it wasn’t easy to pull it out. As he dug deeper, he saw something resembling a piece of cardboard; he took it out and dusted it off, it had something written on it:
“How did you find me? Keep digging and ”
The sentence was incomplete. He could now hear his own heart pumping, he dug faster, as if all he wanted was for the unexpected trial to end, and leave that place to take cover in his usual thoughts and the drawings in his notebook.
Two feet deeper, he felt the pole start to loosen a bit.
-“Almost there, maybe 1 foot deeper”.
Then, a new piece of cardboard appeared:
“we can play a game, after all this digging it makes sense to have some fun. Hi, my “.
Again, the sentence was left unfinished.
He needed to stop to take a break; his fingernails were filthy as were his clothes, he wasn’t prepared for this amount of work, with nothing but a piece of wood, and his fingers were already injured. It didn’t matter, he was almost done.
He shivered at the thought that once he was able to remove the flag, a new piece of cardboard will complete the unfinished introduction.
But he wasn’t prepared, no one could have ever been prepared for what was at the other end of the pole: a human hand, a skeleton hand the size of a 10-year-old, was tightly gripping the pole. Marco fell on his back, as he pulled the whole thing out of the dirt.
-“What the a-actual fuck?
Is… is this…?”
It was. Inside the bony fist, there was another piece of cardboard, the final one (he expected):
“name’s Armand, I’m dead.
But I guess you figured that out already. This was “Capture the flag” when you’re ready to play “Tag” enter the mine. I promise if you play, I will tell you why you’re playing with a dead kid, how cool is that? Hi-five!”
As he read the last line, the hand opened.
Marco would have screamed with all his might, but what came out instead was a gasp; he couldn’t utter a sound. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t close his eyes to stop seeing, nor could he release his new friend’s hand. He couldn’t make sense of anything, he could barely begin moving his legs to try and stand up.
But in the midst of all those things he couldn’t do, there was only one very clear thought in his mind, one thing he could do, the very thing he couldn’t avoid:
“I need to get back home, bring the flashlight, and enter the mine”.
I think this is probably too deep for this hour of the night and a day packed with real-life cybersecurity action at work (woo hoo!).
In any case, I have some ideas I don’t want to leave unexpressed tonight, also I’m listening to a “Jazz Noir” playlist, which helps me make it through the night with the guts and toughness of a broken detective, way too tormented to sleep and obsessed about catching that monsters of the streets, that’s proven so elusive: “but, tonight is the night…” as our good-old Dexter Morgan would say.
So what’s up with the void?
Oh, come on folks! Shouldn’t you know it by now, that I have a natural affinity with drama?
No, but seriously, I’ll talk about real shit here just be patient and bear with my introductions; I’ll tell you two things:
This has to do with my journey as a writer and artist (of course, if you read me, you probably figured that out)
This is another of this self-discovery-type-of-article in which I feel like having these epiphanies about my own journey, may (even if accidentally) help some of you on your own, or at least get you to think more about it. If that’s the case, I will feel satisfied.
I don’t usually quote people that much in my blog, but I believe the following is worth quoting and helps me as a good starting point for my topic tonight:
“Every bit of learning is a little death. Every bit of new information challenges a previous conception, forcing it to dissolve into chaos before it can be reborn as something better. Sometimes such deaths virtually destroy us.”
So the thing is, this guy from the start challenges you with: “writers have to write, every day”. Well, it’s not the first time I hear it of course, but hey since I’m used to “doing things my way”, I ignored all the exercises and the prompts and started binging the thing: I didn’t get too far, it became burdensome and then I thought to myself “well, you’re already working in your books and if this instructor is right, you should probably just keep writing those”. Well, guess what? I’m stuck now, cause, in reality, I do need all the help and instruction I can get and if I don’t start using what’s available, these projects of mine will never see the light.
Now, folks, it’s taken me years to grow up and stop self-beating for about everything, but I have to be honest because I’ve assessed this with sincerity: that fucking attitude of mine is plain arrogance, disguised as something else. The truth is, it comes from feeling I’m above “writing prompts” and above hundreds or thousands of aspiring authors and somehow my stuff is more special and I don’t need to do what everyone’s doing in forums, and in communities and…
You get the point.
Now, before you just hate me, two things:
Being honest is not easy, I know for a fact most people won’t be. So take the above as a confession, as an attempt to defeat this stupid arrogance that has no real foundation, for I’m the newbie of newbies and I know it.
I think this has a root in other seemingly “unrelated” things that reside in my subconscious and have been sabotaging me for years; perhaps joining me in my analysis may be an interesting exercise for you too.
So taking all of this into account, I started pondering, very seriously: “why am I acting like this, if it’s evidently counter-productive?” And also “have I been doing this in other aspects of my life?” “In other projects, maybe?”
Short answer: “Yes”. Also, I happen to know at least a part of what’s lurking in the subconscious mind that’s affecting me like this, and it’s not something I like to talk about but here we go.
Show these motherfuckers!
So this guy right here is a big part of my personality.
“Seriously? A tough guy?”
Yes, maybe you find me quite melancholic, I am that as well xD. But yeah, this ‘tough boy persona’, who’s a part of me, has been playing some tricks and I have exposed him.
In honor of our story together and the huge help this “tough-boy Josue” has been, let me tell you a little about him and why he’s such a strong part of this troubled mind of mine. Do you know, or could you imagine where tough people come from?
Answer:Tough people comes from tough places.
And yes, there’s just so much to my personal story, at least in the part of my life where I couldn’t really manage or decide, that it could become a series of articles. But the thing is, as soon as I became an independent adult, even with the serious health, financial and emotional problems I dragged from earlier stages of my life, I decided no one was gonna fuck with me ever again. Not only that, but I also decided that the world was majorly a hostile place for me, and I would get from it what I wanted even if I had to force it to hand it over to me.
I know this is a cliche, the cliche of the damaged person who decides never to be a victim again and in becoming epic, also becomes unreachable, unreachable, and oftentimes, unwanted.
To me, this wasn’t a “stage” of early adulthood, it was probably how I was during my 20’s and the beginning of my 30s (I’m 36). I got used to this because it wasn’t only an emotion, it became my lifestyle: courageous, charging forward, an excess for effort, muscle, hard work, relentless… But also, often times reckless, overly self-centered, and hostile. And I did get the benefits of becoming ‘the tough guy’; I’ve been able to do many things that destructive people around me considered “impossible” and I’ve felt amazingly great seeing them from afar, confused and stale where they’ve always been and will probably always stay. All of this while I continue to move, while I charge ahead.
Now, the fact that I’m now able to see myself with more critical eyes, and understand sort of the “archetype” represented by this part of my personality, doesn’t mean I condemn myself for being this way: I accept and love that tough boy, he’s helped me a great deal and others around me as well because hidden in his hostility, he’s got a heart that wants to help others, especially the damaged ones. Without his violence and his strength, I wouldn’t be me, and I accept myself and really like it, nowadays.
But that doesn’t mean I’m blind to his shortcomings, and some of the consequences of using this guy so much are becoming obstacles for me.
There’s A World Beyond The Fight
What happens to a soldier, after the war is won?
My life story required a soldier and a very epic one. But see the thing is, I got attached to that character, to that version of myself that brought me so many victories, so much satisfaction, who protected and provided, who endured the worst times. But this soldier is now facing a time he was not built for, a time of peace, a time of quietness, a time of beauty, a time of exploring new things and by the way, a time he bought with blood and tears.
The tough boy has been in a crisis of meaning for a few years now.
And what’s growing in me, is a different animal. It’s still part soldier because I will never let go of that, but I need to integrate it with a philosopher, an artist, a thinker, and a businessman because these other “auxiliary” parts of me are no longer the “auxiliary” ones but the ones taking precedence.
So among many other things, I will not brute-force my way into writing a good book, recording a decent music demo, or developing a voice worth listening to. All of these new things, require me to connect with others, learn from others, and accept the possibility that others hold many of the keys I’ve been desperately trying to find.
It’s time for bravery to give way to humbleness, and violence, to wisdom.
And in that sense, the words of Dr. Peterson echo strongly in my current midnight (not a metaphor, it’s literally 12:36 A.M.), listening to jazz noir and feeling very tired, and also very satisfied that I’m tired for the right reasons.
And let me finish with this: I will go through that whole Udemy writing course, and I will start again being engaged in writer forums and communities and actually read what others are doing, helping them review and also asking for their reviews and their feedback, even if it’s hard to hear. This is now a public commitment with you, my wonderful readers; actually, I published my first exercise from that course, it’s called Blue Door in case you’d like to read it.
Friends, I’m learning, every day, dying a “small death” every day, and watching something new come to life every day. We’re humans, we’re wonderful creatures capable of reinventing ourselves, capable of deciding to become someone better than yesterday and if I die tomorrow I’ll go with a smile.
I’m listening to Elliot Smith’s “Miss Misery”. What a songwriter! Lately, I listen to this guy like every day, not lying to you, and that’s just something I do until I’m through with it and need something new that makes me feel things, then a new music crisis begins and after a finite number of these cycles, I die (of old age I hope).
But that has nothing to do with the title, although I have to say, lying down in my bed, listening to this playlist, and writing in my blog is quite cathartic and probably the beginning of a moment’s rest in an otherwise hectic day.
So yesterday I lost almost a full day’s work because of a major system update applied to my laptop that changed the way I work quite drastically, changes are hard to assimilate especially when you’ve built a lot around the way things were. And today, I had a third and final interview for a job I really, really want, and I felt so nervous! So today I had to work like a motherfucker, focused, fast, and relentlessly in a new, weird environment to make up for the time lost and be able to squeeze 1+ hours in the afternoon for my interview. The interview was a KILLER one, I felt like a mouse trapped by a very playful and evil cat who won’t just let it die; and to my surprise, it seems they will make an offer (I can’t wait for the news!).
After all of this, I’m just beat.
But there are projects I’ve been postponing for years, my art odyssey, sailing the seas of creativity, learning the technique and the craft from scratch while working on bringing to life concepts that have been locked deep inside the wardrobe of my secret wishes. So I face a bit of difficulty here: “Do I go find a way to please myself after a hard day? Or do I invest some time in the disciplines I require to master if I’m ever to make it as an artist?”
It’s not an easy choice, also it is neither completely right nor completely wrong. I could not image nor endure an existence that is made up of 100% discipline, virtue, and rigor. I aim to enjoy my existence and if everything is serious, scripted, and unflexible that will simply not happen. But then again, what’s the right time for each? Me being a 36-year-old, my life doesn’t get any easier, my responsibilities increase as my kid grows up, my career advances, and I introduce personal projects into the huge amount of matters that require attention, time, and money.
So I realize that although it’s perfectly acceptable to take time to rest after a hard day, it is not the best choice when compared to my aspirations and their size. So I chose to stick to my decision of keeping a daily discipline: writing and studying classical guitar. It wasn’t epic folks, it wasn’t full of heroism nor did a muse come to me and showed me how valuable my effort was: it sucked. My musical practice came very slow and didn’t sound so well, my writing wasn’t fluent at all and a truck cut the power cabling in my residential area so when I was finally gaining some writing momentum it all went dark.
So discipline is such, precisely because it happens in spite of feelings and events, but only if you’re willing to make it happen. Hence the title of the blog post.
Owning your suffering
Who wants to hear about suffering, right? I mean, isn’t it the very thing we avoid like the plague, and isn’t this avoidance the reason why we do a lot of what we do consciously or not?
But suffering is a reality, and realities are there to be seen, acknowledged, and dealt with. The opposite is one of many forms of denial, but the denial to see what exists and is evident is probably one of the worst abilities we have as humans; denial has buried entire lives decades before their bodies hit the grave.
So, if we face the reality and the constant possibility of suffering, the question is: how do we manage it? Well, we use it, and we seek to accommodate it so that in the means possible it happens in our terms and within our parameters; and when we accomplish this, that suffering has a much deeper meaning to us and produces less discomfort as well.
Let me give you a very mundane example:
“Rent is due, you’re behind and you know your landlord may want to evict you soon. Now, you know you’re tired, work is not going as good as you wish and you’re a bit down about the whole situation, you choose to ignore the risk and wish for the best; you read in some bullshit book that prosperity is manifested through positive thinking and thus, your efforts to resolve the situation are mental and sadly soon enough they prove to be useless as you actually get kicked out. Now there’s quite some suffering coming your way.
The alternate version of this is, you actually have a bike you use to go to work and run your errands; you realize that things are going south and on top of that, your landlord seems not to be tolerant of your rent payments any longer. You choose to download a delivery app and enroll in the system; Uber or any of those apps, you know you’re going to make some money there and it may take you a couple of months to resolve the whole situation and it’s going to also mean finishing your shift to work even more, taking shit you don’t care about to people you don’t know. You go a speak to the landlord, negotiate some installments for the amount due and commit to full payment of the current month as soon as you’re paid. You’re buying yourself two months of tiredness and suffering.”
So what’s the big difference between these two scenarios?
In the second scenario, you acknowledge the monster below the carpet, look it in the eye and in all its awfulness, and decide to deal with it. If you’re able to control it, you will indeed suffer and probably regret some actions that put you in that position. But you also have a clear timeframe in sight, you won’t be having a great time but you won’t be humiliated and homeless by the end of the month.
In the first scenario, however, you’re thrown by someone else into uncertainty, things are already out of your hands and there’s potentially no end in sight for the storm that’s upon you.
That’s what I mean when I say “own your suffering”. And it’s a bit of a drastic scenario, but it illustrates the point.
For many years, I suffered the fact that my artistic light was shut down, denied by mundane life and obligations. No time to create, no freedom either, no funds to get an education, enslaved to my technical career because it’s what gets me money, growing older and older and I can go on with the list…
You know, I was so wrong in the way I viewed things, but it took me a long time to realize. I mean, there were some awful realities to face: yes, I didn’t have the support I needed to start early in the arts, I missed some opportunities as a young adult and I took responsibilities out of my own choice that ended up limiting my freedom to move. So yeah, I fucked it up, but in no way did it have to stay that way.
As it turns out, the technical career I dedicated so much time and effort to, so that it would get me some money… guess what? It got me money! Not only that, but seniority gave me more flexible schedules and hence a way to organize my time more freely, and what about all the years lost? Not lost at all, it’s no secret that artists benefit much from suffering if they’re able to translate that into an art form worth appreciating, my life experience in other realms is a great source of knowledge for my books and songwriting and even the long wait, pushes me to be more decisive in my current efforts.
What will it all turn into in the end? Will I be a success? Will I go unnoticed?
Yeah, those thoughts are part of my daily anxiety, but I’ll tell you something after years of frustration and getting depressed because of this topic: I’d rather choose that risk of putting heart and soul into something that’s not as well received as I expect, than lowering my arms and adopting conformity with my current situation, and slowly grow bitter and bitter, feeling dreams are never meant to be fulfilled, that life is unfair, that other people had the opportunities I didn’t and so on… Become resentful, bitter…
No, I’ve known enough people like that, their lives are my definition of doom, imprisonment, and despair and it hurts me that so many folks with a huge potential just chose to give up way too early in life. But you know what? It’s their choice, they just allowed the default direction of the system to pull them and define them, they chose not to suffer the embarrassment of learning something as older students, the uncertainty of risking their grown-up stability for a dream, they chose to watch T.V, cook barbeques or party instead of building the vehicle that would take them out of the “unfair” existence they bitch so much about.
I’d rather fail with the full knowledge that I’ve chosen that pain, instead of waiting to see what my denial is bringing upon me, a pain I can’t control nor possibly revert.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not extrapolating a principle of general applicability out of my very specific life history. I’m applying ancient principles to my efforts in attaining very difficult goals, and this is what I want to communicate, for it may be just what you need to read today.
It may be that for many of you, this is a time to enjoy your family, your friends, your lover, a T.V series, travel, and entertainment. I don’t antagonize any of these in principle, it would make me a hypocrite as I’ve traveled many places, watched Breakin Bad about 4 times now, Death Note about 3 times, sung karaoke and danced with my wife and kid for hours, and have streamed the whole Death Stranding videogame via Twitch.
But I’m now facing a new stage, one that I could have had much earlier in my life and I would possibly be under less pressure now, but it is what it is. This is my time for discipline, effort, and suffering my belated dreams. And you know what? I’ve waited for this for many years and I intend to live it fully.
I do hope some of my struggles make nutritious food for thought, and if it seems to shed some light on a situation you’re going through, don’t ignore it, take that light and seek the monster’s lair for yourself; you may find out you’re more capable of dealing with it than you thought and just as I believe will happen in my case, it will not go unrewarded.
Yeah, that’s right, and while we’re at it, it’s a bit of an exercise in procrastination to help me deal with the overwhelming paralysis I feel right now, concerning, well…. writing.
I brought myself a nice cup of cognac my wife gave me for my birthday (hey, it’s in 21 days but it’s so good that I think it will not last until the 21st), and chose again to listen to Liszt since it’s proven so gentle to my brain, took my dog to his bed so I’m alone and uninterrupted, killed a freaking fly that was driving me crazy and finally ended with all potential distractors and set my mind into developing my serial story I plan to start publishing short-to-midterm. I just stared at the screen, confused; how is it possible that I don’t know what to do? I’ve been viewing a lot of YouTube videos, taking the whole 2020 collection of Bran Sanderson’s lecture on fantasy and sci-fi writing (highly recommended, link here: )
I’ve been reading short stories, and a couple novels, taking notes of it all, building worksheets with new vocabulary, and viewing shows that develop stories with elements in common with what I want to do: folks I’m going deeper and deeper every day into my project of becoming an author, I’m dead serious about it.
But still, I read it somewhere that “the difference between an aspiring author and an author, is actually sitting down and writing”; or something to that effect. And it’s so basic for so true, but folks it’s by no means an easy task.
This morning while I was showering I came up with so many ideas, I took the whole series way deeper than I expected in my head, but I sit down and… nothing. It’s like I feel the angst that blocks me and I start wanting to do different things; so what I did was download a couple character development templates and start working on that; it’s not the same as writing a scene (I started episode #1 last week so there’s been some progress) but it’s working in the preparation for the story so I’m OK with that, filling up a comprehensive questionnaire about my characters is also helping me realize dark spots in my story plan and the need to be more thorough.
I guess an additional complication that’s playing emotional tricks on me, is that the story is inspired by a rather unusual series of events that happened in my life when I was a teenager, events that turned around every notion I had of my future and so it has a huge emotional weight in me, even more than 15 years after. Why would that be, I wonder? I wish I didn’t feel any old pains, life always has plenty of them to offer 🙂
In any case, I realize by writing this I’m actually not writing the story I meant to sit down and advance today, so I’m leaving you to face my demons. Wish me luck fellows!
Time for random reflections folks, isn’t it exciting to be able to just stop one’s routines and pre-defined action sets and just sit down and think? Man, this is why I love writing, it’s like taking a shovel and starting digging treasures inside of your own mind and soul, maybe they’ve been ignored for years, maybe disguised in unpleasant containers, but they’re precious if you pay enough attention.
One of the big opportunities I’ve experienced in the last 3 years of self-exploration, is being able to observe my own beliefs and presuppositions from above as if participating from an external consciousness. It’s not easy, as humans our self-preservation and to a degree, our sanity demands a certain structure from us, a certain set of immutable or core beliefs that would provide a sense of identity but also a frame of reference for measuring the world around us and gather meaning from it. And so I’ve come to understand there are two extremes I want to avoid at a personal level:
The dogmatism that incarcerates: I avoid dogmatic positions like the plague. One thing you can expect to increase in my content is a challenge to ideology and dogma, I consider myself a free spirit and I hate to observe the prisons people end up bearing in order to be accepted by a certain group or even to be able to accept themselves. That’s also why I don’t think many people will ultimately grasp me, I will reason against your beliefs but then another I will support a subset of them, on a case-by-case basis; a mind that’s interested in learning the truth needs to allow enough room to grow and admit to past and present severe misconceptions. As you age, maintaining this attitude requires a very intentional decision.
The fluidity that renders you shapeless: Well that’s every bit as dangerous as the former; when everything’s true, nothing is. It’s OK to make mistakes, it’s OK to offend others by having solid positions on topics that cause controversy, it’s OK to change your mind if deep inside you know your adversary has won the argument. But absolute fluidity makes you very easy to deal with, deceive, and manipulate; it’s interesting, just as I can create propaganda tailored to the needs of a very dogmatic type of person with a set of well-known beliefs, I can also device means to confuse a person who’s absolutely fluid, and act in the direction I want one day, and in the opposite the next day, the person will never realize because they dread taking a confrontative position on pretty much anything.
“OK Josué, how’s this related to A. I and humans? Are you playing us or just doing very hard drugs?”
Answer: Neither, but have you seen how film directors can shoot a seemingly unnecessary scene for like two minutes straight just cause he feels like it? David Lynch, I’m talking to you!
Well, just the same, I sometimes feel I need to write something that seems unrelated but it connects directly to the topic, even if it’s not apparent.
So I have been of the “anti-system” type for years and years; I didn’t see my dad much, but when I did I would always ask him about why things are the way they are, a 12-year-old talking about a system he deemed oppressive, unfair and rigged; was I wrong? Not entirely, no; a lot of that happens to be true and for some reason, it bothered me since a very early age.
I’m 35 about to turn 36 and I came to understand it will never be ideal, not even close. But there are degrees of non-ideal realities and the truth is, I wouldn’t trade myself for people who lived before our day and age; I consider myself blessed and yes, I know this doesn’t apply to all. If we were to destroy every foundation on top of which current power and economic structures rest if we were to pursue the dismembering of the evil empire piece by piece and with fierce wrath destroy the reign of injustice, how long would it take us to build something better and entirely different or even allow me to ask: could we?
These are complex questions, and idiotic ideologies will have deceitful easy answers for them, but if you consider these things carefully and honestly maybe you wouldn’t rush to set shit on fire just cause you feel it’s wrong.
I feel I’ve been a frustrated revolutionary for most of my life, but now I came to understand the value of reformation; in either case, we’ve seen both revolution and reformation happen in history with great results sometimes and dreadful results many times, but I believe in salvaging, fixing and building better things using the experience of past generations as a starting point.
I know, it’s not as exciting as destroying everything right? But have you ever seen or read about unstable regions trying to painfully define for years a struggle for power between two or more factions? Man, it’s a horrible window to look through and it will show you some of the worst of mankind; it’s never going to be perfect but it’s better if it’s relatively stable and there’s enough balance for opposing forces to introduce changes and balance.
“OK Josué, seriously: how the FUCK this related to A. I and humans?”
Answer: Because a new society is being shaped, and with it, it brings new challenges. But I would rather take a part in building it than opposing it blindly; by constructing during its early stages, and embracing change, I get an angle and perspective to help reform it later.
Back To The Future
Change is chaos to human psychology, it’s typically not naturally welcome, unless you’re in a horrible position, and such change promises an opportunity to turn the table around. But even so, many individuals will prefer the known evil to exploring the unknown.
And so we witness how robots are taking many jobs that used to be a human job for a fraction of the cost and double the efficiency, you see how an A.I algorithm can generate competent artwork and provide interesting interpretations of deep concepts, how expert systems can make better decisions in critical moments due to their lack of emotion, and how automation simply starts removing the repetitive tasks from our plates.
Information is at hand, education is more accessible than ever, and it is my belief that an individual living in a relatively free, democratic country can change their social and financial situation with much more easiness than in previous ages if they decide to listen to the market and acquire in-demand skills, learn to manage the money they start getting wisely and create something profitable with it: I can tell you this because it’s my own “rags to riches” story, where I’m nowhere near rich, but I live a life no generation in my family before would have dreamed of as far as opportunities and quality of living.
Now, everything in life comes at a price. I’ve paid a very expensive price in terms of time, in terms of pursuing my best potential in the things I care about the most. And such has been my conflict and paradox for many years: I love the opportunity technology has afforded me, but I want to write, I want to create music and art. So, I hated my life for a long time, not realizing that my problem was my linear vision of life and achievements and my own childish expectations that were simply impossible to fulfill because the world wasn’t as I pictured it.
Today, as I continue to build this blog, have much more flexibility in my time management at work, explore my own thoughts and talents, and build my next plans around what I want rather than what I need, I bless those years of bitter struggle.
But one obsession, one thing that the toughest years left me is this: can I help others escape their bitterness? More importantly: can I help others find their potential and get the confidence in themselves to use it? Because I can tell you step by step how I did it, but what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for all. Also, I look at my life and for the first time in my almost 36 years of existence, I feel I’m in the right place, doing the rights things, and can stop for a moment a feel grateful and satisfied; but maybe if you look at my life at this stage it’s far from enough according to your own standards. We’re all different.
But I feel that as the system we live in continues to automate the mundane, the ordinary, this provides for an opportunity which is: that humans can dedicate more to the abstract work of ideas than to the material work of surviving in nature. Could this answer my concern about giving humans the opportunity to explore their own genius at a deeper level? To have more sovereignty over the way they spend their time? To let the machines do the tedious and start competing to provide value based on their own creativity and thoughts? To become creators of new stories, realities, and solutions?
I know, that I’m not speaking about every person here; not everyone has the same motivation although I do believe that every human has the potential to create something. So in order for such a change to be inclusive, there’s really a lot of work involved, a lot of trial and error, a lot of system building, some of which has already begun, perhaps by people some us deem evil or greedy?
And this ties down to my whole story about the system, the reformation, and so on; can you think of building something with others, believing in an improvement, and raising the human potential to a new level? You’re building a system, and probably one that decades from the time you began building it will generate its own problems and will eventually be criticized and threatened by the anti-system people of that age, who happen to have valid points against what you created.
Are we doomed to run in circles continually?
Can we dispose of the rubbish we inherited but honor the hard work of those who laid the very foundations of the system we benefit from?
I have a headache, like a pretty bad one and I hate it. Feeling ill lowers my motivation a lot, and I hate the feeling of losing time; when I’m ill it’s difficult to be creative and thankfully, I was still able to bring a laptop to bed and work on my writing for a fair amount of time.
I took two pills a while back, but I’m starting to feel relief after a while of listening to Liszt; maybe it’s the combined effect of both things. Music can be a real emotional burden for me, especially when I yearn for something new that touches my soul and I can’t find it, but more often than not, it’s just magic, a true spice to the dullness of the mundane life and even in my current situation, a real medicine for my pain.
I’m planning an episodic series about patients in a mental institution and I’ve been writing down the whole concept tonight, I seriously believe it’s gonna kick ass and I will publish it here first, then probably in Medium and I’m thinking Wattpad as well.
When it comes to how I organize my projects and thinking, I’ve had to find the freedom of being myself while also aiming to be more disciplined; it’s a thin line and a delicate balance that requires a lot of effort from me. I’ve already started writing a novel, another series on fantasy and now I’m developing this idea. But they’re very different projects in their scope and intention:
The novel is a psychological thriller that explores the nature of deviance and the idea of evil, from a systemic, cultural and philosophical point of view. It’s meant to be violent but also sophisticated and thought-provoking. It may take me a very long time to write it and have it ready, it will also be my first experience in formally publishing a book and so, it’s a rather complex project that I want to take my time to carefully complete.
The second project is a fantasy series that retells a lot of historical events from the perspective of a rather peculiar character. It’s a mockery to human stupidity and herd mentality while also an apology of the dissident, beautiful freaks of different ages. In doing this, it eventually starts becoming a cultural commentary of our time. This one I will release in episodes, and rather than aiming for a book or book series, I plan to make this story a social media experiment.
The third project, the one I’ve been focused on tonight, is an exercise in episodic story-telling and short story, but with a very challenging twist for me: it’s meant to be a “dramedy”, so a drama that deals with very painful and serious topics but it’s presented with a degree of dark humor. There are two special things about this latest project:
I will be able to talk about a very personal and relevant topic which is mental health; if you’ve read my previous articles, then you know I take this very seriously and I’m very supportive of people going through such hardship.
This is my most immediate project: I’m used to write blogs posts in a very free style, as well as some of my poetry; but I’ve never published stories before and I feel a terrible urge to do so as soon as possible. So it’s coming, very soon.
I’d like to write a lot more tonight, because there’s so much inside of me, sometimes I feel like my thoughts are a violent ocean contained in a rather frail vessel. And I’m OK with that, I am what I am, and I’ll work with it. I need to sleep so hopefully I’m in better health tomorrow.
Headaches, dreams about to come true, and the value of discipline.
Fuck man, I have to say, my life won’t be normal but sure as fuck is entertaining and full of things xD
See, I’ve been working hard, for many, many years in finding myself (I know this is vague and cliche) but yeah, too many years. You may feel this is a stage of life but it’s not, let me explain: you easily get to spend all of your hours on Earth and never come to understand what you are, how you are, what you want and what you’re willing to do for what you want. It would sound like it should be a basic premise of any given person but we’re presented with a lot of surrogate sources of distraction, entertainment, conflicts, stress, etc, that for too many, that moment of self-reflection never actually comes.
This is one of the things that I hate the most about modern life, and part of my personal quest is to find a way to show people how important their life is, how full of potential, and how they’re able to break the cycle of a cookie-cutter, pathetic existence.
The “value of discipline” mentioned above is closely related to this previous reflection; ever since I was fired from my second job, I took it upon myself not to get another job, even if I feel like I really really need or want that extra money I was used to earning. Instead, I would take a set of activities that I have identified as leading me to build my personal life strategy (yes this is something and it’s been written in a notebook for two years), and take them with the seriousness of that second job, or even more because one is about money but the second is about meaning. And it’s hard man, it’s fucking hard, I’m dying every day in a good sense and being reborn; studying the disciplines that my plan requires, and experimenting with uncharted intellectual and artistic territories every single day after work and after exercising (which is part of the change) is taking a bit toll on me. I’m tired, and I’m in a lot of internal conflict and uncertainty, I’ve left the shore and set out to discover the unknown.
Probably that’s where the headache is coming from; no, most certainly that’s the reason why (note to self: buy some fucking aspirin).
I haven’t mentioned the “dreams about to come true” part, I know, I know. But as rational as I try to be, there’s still a more primitive man inside of me who’s superstitious and I’m afraid if I say it, I’ll jinx it.
But I promise I’ll tell you when it happens, and I will link it to this entry 🙂