Matthew Woodson via CGUnit
Jamie Nadalin, a reader of the Blog of Innocence, recently posted this comment:
"During the day, I'm ceaselessly striving. I'm striving for a picture in my mind. Every morning I wake up and try to attain this ideal.
You can imagine I'm regularly disappointed. But I brush off the disappointment--I've learned to."
Your blog is a pleasure to visit, I'm very glad to have stumbled upon it. I identify with the above quote very strongly. Not only am I regularly disappointed but also disheartened by not achieving that mysterious goal. Most often I do brush it off, but sometimes I can't help but feel like I've failed. What's worse is the goal or picture in mind is so vague, I can't rightly decide how it is I should improve myself or my approach.
I also want to ask you why you stopped smoking pot? You say your mind is important to you, how does pot affect your mind exactly? you see, I smoke on a regular basis, mostly because I think it's the only way to feel any real motivation, there are other reasons of course but that's the main one. Sometimes I want to quit though, I'm afraid it will turn me into some kind of a blob, a slug. Is that what you felt as well?
So you too have had this experience . . .
From time to time, I feel as though I've failed in achieving my mysterious goal. Especially when I consider my accomplishments from the point of view of my father; in other words, how he sees me.
My whole life I've been striving for my father's validation. On the one hand, I've done what I've wanted to do in life. I followed my dreams, my desires, my instincts. But on the other, I look back over my shoulder, always thinking of him, and anticipating his reaction.
I never feel recognized in my achievements by my father. Perhaps if I was leading a more conventional life, with a high-paying career, a family and such, he would recognize my success. As of now, I have done little to impress him. The last time I impressed my father was when I graduated from college.
It's a petty thing to need my father's approval, but this sort of thing dominates many people's lives. For some it's the mother's approval. For me, it's my father. I'm living the life my mother would have wanted for me. I run an arts and culture publication. I'm creative; a writer. My life is in accord with her dreams as an artist.
So, when you say "failure", I think of myself through my father's eyes. Of course, he would not say that I am a failure. Perhaps it's the reassurance that I'm not a failure which I need from him. I know I'm not. But certain things that are important to him--my ability to support myself, financial independence, etc.--demonstrate that I have fallen short in his eyes.
Sure, he's pleased with my literary and creative accomplishments, but they mean very little to him without a paycheck.
I love what you say here:
What's worse is the goal or picture in mind is so vague, I can't rightly decide how it is I should improve myself or my approach.The mysterious goal we set for ourselves is meant to be vague. This is so that we can never actually attain it! So that we must continue striving, and achieving all sorts of things, but never anything that truly satisfies us.
The logic goes that if we were satisfied, then we would stop living. There would be no reason to continue doing anything in life.
We make the goal of our lives, our "destiny" per say--elusive. It must remain elusive for us, or we won't have a desire to keep going.
If your goal is to retire and move to Puerto Rico, like one of my uncles, then you attain it eventually and you move to Puerto Rico. This is not a mysterious goal. This is a concrete goal. And when you are there, you may do like my uncle did. He bought a house that overlooks the ocean and he sits on his roof and admires the view, or he drinks whiskey and watches the stock market ticker.
He has no elusive goal before him. He is done with life. Ask him, and he'll say there is nothing more.
You say, "I can't rightly decide how it is I should improve myself or my approach."
If you have a desire to live, you will improve yourself. We live in a culture of self-improvement and half the time this seems like the disease and not the cure. You are always improving your approach toward achieving your mysterious goal in that you are re-defining your goal and goals constantly.
As long as you are actively re-imagining your goals in life, you are coming closer to what you really want to do.
You ask me why I stopped smoking pot. This is a big question. First of all, I'm a recovering drug addict and I shouldn't have been smoking pot in the first place. I had what you call a relapse.
So when I was smoking pot recently, I was not leisurely smoking it. I was compulsively smoking it. I went out and bought a $150 glass bong. I took bong hits nightly.
And I didn't really enjoy the experience. You can read my essay "How many of us are self-medicating" to get an idea of the situation.
Yes, the mind is important to me. What I mean by this is I depend on my mind. I depend on my mind as a creative person, as a writer and intellectual.
I've done the experiment. Meaning, I've tested it out whether I'm more or less creative, more or less effective, while stoned.
Usually, while high, I have lots of interesting thoughts in my head. And I tend to end up on Twitter. Smitten by my own thoughts, I want to share them. I'll tweet something profound and wait for people to respond.
When I write high, however, only 1 in every 10 times does something articulate and meaningful get manifested. A lot of time it is just manic thought patterns and I don't have the wherewithal to compose a single coherent article, essay, or poem.
But I'm not going to lie, sometimes I tap into a profound stream of thoughts and I'm able to get them down on paper. For example, the Preface to the Blog of Innocence was written while I was stoned.
Every individual is different. You say you're more motivated while high. For me, I'm not more motivated, I'm more manic. And just because I'm manic, having racing thoughts, doesn't necessarily translate into motivation to produce a solid result.
I didn't worry that smoking would turn me into a lazy, unmotivated slob. My personality is Type A, so there's little fear of that. I do too much in life, which is why I gravitate toward drugs. I seem to need them to help me relax, to unwind, and to stop working.
So when I was smoking pot on a regular basis I would get all of my work done first. Pot was my reward at the end of the day.
But this didn't work out for me because I would stay up all night when I smoked. Smoking interfered with my cycle. I wouldn't wake up until the afternoon. And during the day, I noticed a bit of cloudiness.
I wasn't lazy. I didn't stop working. I just began to feel as though my brain wasn't at its peak performance. That's all.
And my brain is important to me. In fact, my life depends on the performance of my brain. I'm a writer, a thinker and an intellectual. I want my mind in the best possible condition for writing these essays, and running my website and business Escape into Life.