nietzsche

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It’s all a Dream?

You know how they say in your final moments your whole life flashes before your eyes? It appears then, that I’m presently dying.

The only question is if it’s the slow, inexorable march towards entropy, or like, my severed head is replaying everything that’s ever happened to me? Where is my mind? If it’s the slow train to dirt-nap city, would that be enough to cause all of this sensory feedback?

Is it all a dream? 

But seriously, I feel unstuck in time, like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five; existing everywhere, and when, at once. I can feel the cushioning of my untied Nike Cortez ’72’s from 2001, and the spring of the concrete pads of the stairs in my apartment breezeway, and how they sang as I bounced down them on my walk to the office, where I worked.

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Kurt Vonnegut wrote a book called “Breakfast of Champions” which is why this is ridiculous and great.

The way my hands looked on my balcony in ’99 when I stared at them trying to see what they looked like, via the memory of my 84-year-old self. The grips on my bike in fifth grade, tooling around the apartment community where I lived in Sarasota.

The feel of running behind my Tonka truck at age 4, and the subsequent rug burn that came with sliding on my knees behind it. The smell of the latrine at camp in ’91 and how I never wanted to be within 100 yards of it. 1995, the newspaper ink on the tread of my right hand, crossword puzzle being blackened like Prince William Sound.

I recently had the overwhelming compulsion to purchase this guy, for some inexplicable reason. It was my most prized possession when I was 7 years old. Thanks to Ebay, and $11.25 via Paypal, it was mine again.

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People have pointed out the resemblance. Penny for scale.

They were a series of toys called M.U.S.C.L.E. MEN, that came in little opaque trash cans and featured, hard rubber wrestlers, mutants, and stuff. The whole series ran about 140 of them and this guy was the rarest – likely on the account that he was the announcer and who the hell wanted the announcer?  Seven year olds, apparently, were not without a sense of scarcity-value.

But why did I think of it now? A sense of my own mortality in the face of the sea of dead celebrities? It certainly wasn’t to buy back my youth, I can tell you that. Cause they don’t sell that on Ebay – not that I looked.

I don’t know. Am I dreaming? Am I having a Jacob’s Ladder situation where I’ve actually been shivved for my little guy here, and in my last moments I’m imagining all of this? If so, bravo 7-year-old-Rob. You have quite the imagination.

Maybe it’s the holidays? The end of every year finds me with an insatiable hankering for creative expression, it seems. This year, I’m thinking of a retrospective through all of letters from friends from high school. I still have hundreds of them, in date order from everyone I corresponded with. I don’t know of anyone else that still has that stuff, but I think it could make for a cool project. Maybe I’m just a solipsistic pile of shit?

Maybe I need the project to distract me from the fact that I’m already dead? or “already dead”, in the respect that I’m aware that I’m a finite creature that is aware that we only have so much time left in this crazy world?

They don’t understand. What’s the master plan? …Yes my man, I’m true to that.

It could be the hallmark of the first introspection I’ve allowed myself to have in a while. I haven’t wanted anything in sometime. Not really, anyway. Not outside the superficial wants I think we perpetuate just to continue to feel human. Perhaps I bought that Kinnikuman figure because I should want it? Right?

I think when we want stuff, like really want it, we’re blinded to everything else around us until we get it. And then, when we get it? What then? You think Leo is made whole at the end of Gangs of NY? I don’t. I think Bill realizes the futility as well, which is why he declines to put another hole in him; which is why he holds his hand as he fades to black. It’s all over with.

Am I all over with? Hardly, unless I really am laying somewhere with my head in a gutter. If your head gets severed, they don’t tend to do open-casket, do they? Even with aid of a turtleneck?

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Maybe time is a flat circle, heh, Rust Cohle? Maybe the detailed rememberings of simple and uneventful things is something everyone experiences from time to time? Maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all.

What I am sure of is that I’m definitely dying, as are you. I just don’t know if I’m doing my best impression of Usain Bolt, or Stephen Hawking as I beg Lachesis for a hefty pull.

Nietzche & The Family Circus, or making a better you…

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.” -Nietzsche

I saw this quote while checking out www.nietzschefamilycircus.com and yes, it’s exactly what you’d think – random Nietzsche quotes under random family circus panels. Check it. 

Anyway, I saw this quote and it spoke to me. Or maybe it was the thought of Nietzsche’s mustache that made we dwell on it. On just One No-Shave-November, I want to see someone pull off this look.

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But I digress…

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” he relays a story about a big problem the Miami Police Department was having some years back. Apparently they were getting into shoot outs at an alarming rate, especially when compared to similar cities. Theories abound: cops are racist (all of them?), there are more criminals in Miami than most other cities due to Castro’s opening of the prisons (Scarface?), or the high volume of drugs has something to do with it. 

After a lot of observation, it turns out Miami’s finest weren’t doing the basic things you’ve seen a cop do every time you’ve been pulled over. Stay back behind the window frame, lean in slowly to assess the car and occupants as possible threats, keeping a safe distance, etc… These didn’t seem like huge deals but they had the result of causing the number of altercations to escalate wildly. 

The measures of keeping distance and assessment were designed to maximize the amount of time Police had to make a decision. When they have little to no time, gut reactions to threats can lead to guns drawn and the same from suspects. The “fight or flight” response is no joke and it can completely bypass our rational brain. Telling cops to simply “be careful out there” isn’t going to work as well as telling them to do very specific things that will minimize the risk of a run-in that ends with guns drawn or worse. 

In the same vein, when we’re tired (see also: stressed, hot, angry, exhausted, hungry) we react poorly to things that we wouldn’t otherwise be bothered with. Think about your family vacations. Maybe you went to Disney and walked around for 10 hours in the heat and now you’re trying to decide where to have dinner and everyone wants something different. More often then not, those conversations don’t go over well. I feel ya, I’ve been there. 

Leave it to Nietzsche to sum up a clear path to happiness. Avoid being tired! Avoid being stressed! Easy, right? Of course that’s completely insane. You HAVE to be stressed at times. You HAVE to be tired at times, or you’re probably not trying hard enough at life. That’s ok. The answer for the Miami police wasn’t to quit pulling over cars – it was to give themselves a cushion of time. They made a rational decision before they were threatened to avoid feeling threatened, as much as easily done and reasonably possible. 

That’s the answer for us. Know yourself and when you’re going to reach the limits of your normally happy, sated self. Plan for them and stop plowing ahead if at all possible so you don’t succumb to things that wouldn’t typically bother “normal you.” 

For example, I know in late July/August that I’m going to be dealing with “turn” and all the massive amounts of people moving in/out and this taxes my faculties more than any other time of the year. My brain is fried and when I finally get home, all I want to do is sit and stare without speaking for a few hours. Or pull a Herman Blume. 

My wife, who spends all day with our two and three year old boys, is eager for adult conversation by the time I finally arrive home though she knows I need a couple hours of quiet time to recharge my batteries. It is remarkable how rested I feel after spending an hour or so just letting my mind wander or doing a little light reading. 

Similarly, my wife loves to nap on the weekends in the afternoon so I take over kid duties exclusively for a few hours so she can be her best, rested self. These tiny adjustments do wonders to keep us out of those danger zones where tempers can easily flare. 

Slow things down. Take it a little easier. Plan on when you’ll eat, rest, relax when you can and you’ll likely be a lot easier to deal with. Everyone wants to be the best person they can, give yourself the buffer from exhaustion to make it easier to be that person. 

Also, read some Nietzsche Family Circus. That stuff is great for your brain.