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Saturday, 13 October 2012

Structure? Yuck! Contentment? Yay!

I'm probably the most unstructured person I know, while at the same time being one of the most anal.  Go figure.  There are things I'm an absolute freak about being exactly right (read:  OCD or damn close to it), but I have no personal schedule at all.  Not to mention the fact that I feel everything can wait until whenever I feel like doing it.  It's not as bad as it might sound, and only leads to disaster if you're unwilling to life with the consequences of procrastination.  I am.  You see, in most cases it doesn't take much for me to be content, and contentment is very underrated these days.  Contentment to me is the true epitome of happiness.

Happiness itself is kind of a pipe dream.  Euphoria induced by happiness is a 'high', much like the ones achieved by drug addicts.  The act of chasing after that kind of happiness is like that of an addict jonesing for a fix.  Human emotions, like all things, appear in balance.  If we experience dramatic highs in our emotions, we will also experience dramatic lows.  There's no avoiding it.  Love is one such cause.  Once the bloom of infatuation wears off, and we're left with the real love, we don't generally experience the drama unless we induce it through fighting and making up.  A life that isn't much to my liking.

I used to be a drama queen, I think.  I remember being in high school and having fights with my boyfriend at the time because I didn't feel loved enough, or was jealous or something.  I craved the drama and emotional highs and lows of the fights.  We would make up, we'd be madly in love once again, he'd buy me a bouquet of roses and leave it in his locker as a surprise for me, somehow knowing I'd be skipping school that day to come see him.  Yes, the card was written on, with my name and everything, so he didn't buy flowers for any random girl and just happen to have them there.  There were meant for me.  He knew me pretty well, or at least he knew the person I was at the time.

The person I am now cringes at the thought of romantic conflict.  Of course, since I'm not in a romantic situation of any sort, that would just be awkward.  Romantic conflict coming from anyone at this point would be wholly unexpected and just plain weird.  Can you just imagine the situation?  Picture it:

"We have to talk about our relationship!"  A solid lump of fear appears in my gut.  Not to mention the roiling mass of confusion the whirls in my befuddled brain.  "Umm," is the best I can do, completely at a loss for anything worth saying.  "I didn't know we had one?!"  Yeah, that's a little better, but would be hurtful to the poor deluded soul who thinks we do.  Believe it or not, that actually happened to me once, except he had a very slight reason for thinking we had a romantic connection, but it was a physical thing that had happened months before.  We'd never brought it up again, until that very moment when I felt like I'd been whacked over the head with a two-by-four, I had no idea there was anything more to it in his mind, and there certainly hadn't been in my own.

So, anyway, I've veered of topic as I'm wont to do, and I'm dragging my ass back to my own point.  Structure is all well and good for people who are striving for the ever-elusive happiness, but those who strive only for contentment, such as myself, need very little of it.  I need to have food to eat, a roof over my head, food and care for my animals, my computer (and usually internet access), my medication for pain and nausea, and Pepsi to drink (or something much more palatable than water, which I despise).  All of these things are achievable with very little thought and effort.  They require small amounts of money, and the amount depends on the cost of living where you happen to reside.

I watch people drive themselves crazy all the time, looking for happiness, struggling with massive debt just so they could have the exact 50" flat-screen TV they wanted at the moment they wanted it.  Most of the debt I've gone into for stuff like that has been for my daughter, so I could get her a kick-ass present for her birthday or something.  I'm getting over the need to do that these days.  She's an adult now, and it's time for her to learn she can't have what she wants without working for it anyway.  She got a small gift this year, one that didn't make our lives more difficult by adding more debt to our shoulders.

We were so strapped this year she didn't get cake even, but she did get her favourite lemon meringue pie.  I've raised her well, because she was content with that.  You see?  There's that word again.  Contentment is really the best thing in the world.  If you feel contentment, you feel peaceful.  Happiness does not feel peaceful.  It feels melodramatic, exciting, pleasurable, etc.  None of those things equate with peace.  Inner serenity is peaceful, contentment is peaceful and serene.

What I've discovered about most people is true for addicts as well.  A constant restlessness is what pushes people to look for highs of any kind.  People who are internally serene do not look for happiness, as their serenity feels better than happiness.

The funny thing about today's blog is that I was actually looking at structure from the other side - as a benefit to my writing - when I started writing this.  I actually get a boost from a certain amount of structure.  When I get a writing assignment I jump right on it.  However, I find writing assignments to be a form of encouragement.  A challenge perhaps.  It challenges me in the way that I can prove to myself that I can come up with something for any topic.  Kind of like getting good grades in school.  The assignments aren't mandatory, and if they were I probably wouldn't write them just on general principle.  I really don't like being told what to do.  Being challenged, on the other hand, is rather motivating.  A challenge met is something I find brings me peace, contentment and serenity, too.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

My Habit of Speaking and then Boycotting

It only recently occurred to me that my reactions to people fall along the same lines as my behaviour toward companies I disapprove of.  The companies I disapprove of fall under the category of animal testers for the most part.  Any company that does animal testing is a company I hate.  I usually send them a strongly worded letter or communication of some sort, and then I never buy from them again.

Well, it looks like I do the same thing with people.  I read articles by other writers on www.wrytestuff.com, which I where I submit the majority of my work at the moment.  If I like what they have to say, I give them favourable comments and ratings.  If I don't like it, I still comment, give a lousy rating, and then never read their work again.  If these articles were unbiased reports I wouldn't lay blame at the feet of the writers, since a reporter only reports what is true (unless they're a lousy reporter).  Facts are simply facts, and since it's my mission in life to learn as much as possible, I like knowing facts.

Most of the writing I read these days are position pieces, however.  A piece of writing where someone is expressing an opinion is a position piece.  They're expressing their position on a matter - where they stand in other words.  I've written plenty of position papers of my own, so I recognize them when I see them.  A lot of my own writing is in that form.  I do some fact-driven pieces, but my opinion pieces seem to be more popular, which actually surprises me a bit.  My personal experience POV pieces get even more attention.  People really like to read about what other people have gone through personally, which never fails to shock me.

So, anyway, when it comes to leaving comments these days, the comments are usually directed at whether or not I agree with a position.  The gentleman I wrote about in this blog a few days ago would be an example, and despite originally agreeing with a lot of what he said, I ended up disagreeing with him in general by the time he finished making his arguments.  Well, I read an article by a woman today that I completely disagreed with.  She was comparing gay marriage to paedophilia.  Nice huh?  If anyone who reads this knows me, they know I support LGBT causes, and am in favour of gay marriage.  As far as I'm concerned, the more love in the world the better.  Being heterosexual doesn't diminish my feeling on the subject.  I'm against racism and bigotry.  I generally kick people out of my house when they make bigoted remarks, my ex-husband being a weird exception (for reasons that would probably require years of therapy for me to figure out).

My point is, I left a comment that was pretty nasty about her complete lack of knowledge on the subject matter, gave a personal example, and will likely not bother to respond to her if she makes a return comment.  So much for my need to have the last word, apparently.  My need to try to force people/companies into obscurity outweighs any need I have to keep making statements.  The more attention people get for making ridiculous arguments, the more people will take them seriously.  With companies I express my disapproval for refusing to give them profit for doing something I feel they shouldn't be doing.

I'm like this with actors and musicians, too.  Tommy Lee, convicted of spousal abuse, etc.  Mel Gibson, same deal, with the anti-semitism thrown in for good measure.  I would never pay a cent for any of their work ever again.  No more Motley Crue CDs, and I don't care if they do make another Lethal Weapon because I won't be buying it.  I'm not Jewish, but Mr. Gibson needs to shut his yap.  Religious freedom is something I support, despite the fact that I'm against organized religion in my personal life.  I think people should be allowed a choice, and my opinion on the matter is not their problem.  It wouldn't work for me, but freedom does.

Maybe it's just that I've come to a more accepting point in my life.  I don't accept that things can't be changed, or that they shouldn't be, but I do accept that there are nutbags in the world, and that you simply can't convince them of anything even roughly approaching logic and rationality.  Nutbags, by definition, are nutbags.  Logic and rationality are foreign to them.  And never the twain shall meet!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

From Hopeless Romantic to Happy Single

One thing amazes me constantly these days, and it's my complete lack of interest in anything resembling a commitment.  Why is this amazing to me?  Well, as I grew up in a dearth of love, my fondest wish was to find someone I mattered to.  I wanted to fall in love in the worst possible way.  I wanted to be married and make babies.  Sure, I did that, with the exception of the plural on the babies.  I kind of got the whole thing reversed, actually...three marriages and one child, instead of the other way around.

What I really, really wanted was to feel a love I didn't doubt or question.  Not from the other person, but within myself.  I didn't even realize that was what I was looking for.  I thought I wanted that from him, not me.  I wanted to be able to look at someone and feel that love for them in the deepest part of me; the very tiny part that I'd managed to protect from the horrors of my childhood, preserved deep within.  I finally felt that way with my third husband.  Don't get me wrong - I did love my first and second husbands, but it wasn't the all-encompassing emotion I craved.  I fooled myself into thinking I felt it, and in doing so I fooled my former husbands, too.

Like anyone who misses out on love as a child, I looked for that love externally, thinking I'd find someone to "complete me" as the movies iterate.  As I grew up I realized, consciously, that external validation does nothing, and that we never feel truly worthy of love until we love ourselves.  Subconsciously is a different story.  Suffice it to say, no relationships could complete me, and they always fell short of making me happy.

I got older still and started to change some more, no longer feeling I needed to be with anyone, but still craving love and companionship.  Once my third marriage ended, however, for the first time in my life I wasn't rushing right back out there to meet someone new.  After a couple of years I went on a couple of dates, but nothing the least bit serious or intimate.  Every once in a while a whiff of curiosity would hit me and I would wonder what a good relationship for me would look like.  That's when it finally started to sink in that there wasn't one.  I couldn't think of a single plausible scenario where I would be happy to be in any sort of romantic relationship again.  I don't have anything against them, and I'm not mad about anything.  I'm just so damn content, owning every part of my own life, that I can't see a relationship as anything other than work and complications.

There is nothing about romance that I'm interested in these days.  I have a million other interests, and I still feel emotions, so I doubt it's any kind of depression.  I have passion for the things that matter to me, but a romantic relationship is no longer one of the things that matter.  The change from one way of thinking to the other is what amazes me - that anyone could become such a different person, with a brand new set of dreams.

Maybe all I needed to know was that I was capable of feeling that way about someone, and that I hadn't been completely destroyed by the way I grew up.  I didn't let them win in the end.  Once I got to that state of mind, though, I no longer needed to win anything.  I was okay with everything I'd lived through, because it made me the person I became.