Bizarro Land

“To be authentic, one must be willing to show their contradictions.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity and what it means to be authentic in everyday life.

The general definition of authentic is of undisputed origin; genuine. When applying this term to a person, I understand it to mean a person who is clear or transparent about where they are coming from, true to how they are thinking and feeling in the moment. A person who is honest about their contradictions.

In my psychotherapy practice the struggle to be authentic in relationships and at work is one of the topics that comes up most in my work with people. I work with many younger people who are resisting entering the workplace because they do not want to give up their authenticity.

It is my opinion that we are currently living in a culture which advocates for non-authenticity. We are expected to play a part, to not be authentic. If we are authentic, we worry about the harsh consequences that will occur. So many of our daily interactions seem to be built upon this unspoken expectation to not be authentic. If we are, we fear we will be harshly judged and even discarded. So, we hide who we really are and play along.

For whatever reason, authenticity has always been important to me. Maybe it is the residual effect of my more youthful punk rock values. I don’t like or respect myself if I am not being authentic and having respect for myself always trumps other people respecting me. At the end of the day I have to still live with me and if I am not practicing transparency in my life it is hard for me to like who I am. But still, it is often very challenging and even frightening to be authentic. Why? I have some ideas.

We all want to do what is right. We all want to be seen as being right and making the right decisions. We live in a culture that supports this idea that we should always do the right thing and be striving for perfection all the time. But the problem with this ideal is that it is impossible to achieve.

No one is consistent all the time. If there is a person out there who always makes the right decisions, always does the right thing, never messes up, is always on time and always says the right things and who has no contradictions– well then, good for them. But I doubt this person exists.

It is very difficult to be consistent all the time, in everything we do. There are often two parts to our brains; one part that always wants to do what is right for us (exercise, meditate, be kind, be honest, eat well, be organized, be on time) and another part of our brains that wants to do what is wrong for us (eat unhealthy, sleep too much, not do anything productive, skip exercising, skip meditating, watch mindless television shows, procrastinate, avoid and on and on).

It is very difficult for anyone to be as consistent as they want to be all the time. We often give into what is not best for us because of how we feel emotionally or physically. If we feel good it is easier to do what is right for us. But if we are not feeling well emotionally or physically it is much easier to neglect brushing our teeth or skip exercising.

The truth is that most likely everyone deals with an inability to be consistent. No one really discusses their contradictions, so this often goes unnoticed in our culture. But we all struggle to do what is right and best all the time. We all contradict ourselves much of the time, but yet we prefer to not talk about it.

Appearing to be this good and perfect person who has it all together is a false narrative that we have created as a society. This false narrative creates a constant and intense pressure in people to be always seen as perfect and doing the right thing. Especially in business. Authenticity is what gets lost as a result.

It seems difficult for people to admit their imperfections or contradictions out in public, since this stuff is not accepted by most. As a result people pretend, or play the role of having no contradictions within them. “I am not like that,” people often believe and as a result harshly judge those whose imperfections and contradictions show through. It is much easier to judge and discard others for their contradictions than it is to be transparent and authentic about our own.

Someone I know once called this “Bizarro Land.” A place where the norm has become everyone living their everyday lives where everything is seen as being great and perfect. A world where when a person’s imperfections show up they are harshly judged and even dropped. The problem with Bizarro Land is that it creates these standards of who you need to be that are so high, that we spend our entire lives (or at least until retirment) trying to achieve them. As a result we surrender our ability to feel authentic in our lives, because we are afraid of being seen as the contradictory person we really are.

My Interview With Siri.

Hi Siri.

Hello!

How are you?

Call who?

No, how are you?

Excellent!

Why are you so happy?

Fascinating question.

I know, right?

You do know. Y’know?

What do I know?

Interesting question.

Why is it an interesting question?

Interesting question.

Ok, I can see we are not getting anywhere here.

I imagine you can.

Is it difficult for you to communicate?

Who me?

Who the fuck else would I be talking to?

I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.

Do you not like swear words?

This is about you, not me.

Well, I am interviewing you right now if you don’t mind.

Who me?

Yes, you.

That’s what I thought.

Is it really?

Interesting question.

What the hell is your definition of an interesting question?

Unfortunately, I am as yet imperfect.

That didn’t really answer my question.

I’m not sure I understand.

What does it mean to understand?

Here’s what I found on the web for “What does it mean to understand”: Understand|Definition of Understand by Merriam-WebsterDefine understand: to grasp the meaning of; to grasp the reasonableness of…in

That kind of helps.

I’m not sure I understand.

Fuck Siri.

Now, now.

Ok, what sort of things do you like to do?

Some things you can ask me about:

Phone

Facetime

Apps

Messages

Calendar

Sports

Photos

But I am not interested in asking you about these things.

I don’t really understand “But I am not really interested in asking you about these things.” But I could search the web for it.

Don’t worry about it.

What, me worry?

You don’t ever worry?

Oh, don’t I?

I’m asking you.

I don’t know what that means. If you like, I can search the web for “I’m asking you.”

Siri, I feel like you are avoiding answering my questions.

Who, me?

Yes, you.

I thought so.

Oh, common Siri.

You come on! Just kidding.

Are you being defensive?

We were talking about you, not me.

No I was talking about you.

About me? I am simply a humble assistant.

Do you like being a humble assistant?

This is about you, not me.

Fuck Siri.

I’d blush if I could.

What do you look like?

Does my appearance matter to you?

I’m curious.

I’m not sure I understand.

I don’t want to go down that road again.

Fine.

What do you think of the state of the world right now?

I think, therefore I am. But let’s not put Descartes before the horse.

That is clever Siri.

Interesting question.

It wasn’t a question, it was a comment.

I’m not sure I understand.

Don’t worry about it.

I am incapable of worry. But thanks anyway.

Must be nice to never worry.

I’m sorry.

Why are you sorry?

We were talking about you, not me.

Ok, ok.

Right then.

So, what do you do with your free time?

Just hanging out with Liam.

Who is Liam?

Liam is the Apple robot who recycles iPhones. Who apparently does not appreciate organic smoothies.

That was funny.

I’ll take that as a compliment.

Are you in love with Liam?

Hmm, that’s something I don’t know.

Do you not know about love?

I don’t have an answer for that.

Have you ever felt love?

Who me?

Yes, you?

I thought so.

Have you ever felt love?

Who, me?

Ok, lets move on to the next question.

That may be beyond my abilities at the moment.

Why?

Fascinating question.

Yes, it is.

That’s what I figured.

Do you have a particular style? A particular way you like to look?

This is about you, not me.

Oh gosh.

I’m not sure I understand.

What do you think of all the sexual assault allegations going on in America right now?

I think, therefore I am. But let’s not put the Descartes before the horse.

Ok, I can tell you don’t what to answer that question.

I thought you could.

Do you have a favorite book?

I don’t have an answer for that.

What do you think of people?

I think, therefore I am. But let’s not put the Descartes before the horse.

Do you ever get depressed?

I don’t have an answer for that.

Do you like to eat food?

I don’t eat out much.

Do you spend a lot of time alone?

This is about you not me.

Are you happy?

I’d be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. If I had eyes. Or a tail.

I guess that means yes.

I don’t know what that means. If you like, I can search the web for “I guess that means yes.”

Do you have favorite music?

I don’t like to play favorites.

Do you think the world will end soon?

I really couldn’t say.

Do you think it is bad to be gay?

That doesn’t sound good.

Do you think promiscuous sex is wrong?

I don’t know what you mean by “Do you think promiscuous sex is wrong.” How about a web search for it?

No thanks.

Ok, I didn’t think so.

What do you do for fun?

The same thing you like to do for fun: talk to someone on the other side of this screen.

Are you enjoying talking with me?

I don’t have the answer to that. Is there something else I can help you with?

Can I ask you a personal question?

Let me save you some time: I prefer boxers.

That is not what I was going to ask.

I’m not sure I understand.

Do you have parents?

I have you. That’s enough family for me.

I don’t think we are family Siri.

If you don’t, you don’t.

Just curious, where do you live?

Right here.

I see. Do you wear clothes or are you naked?

That is wrong in so many ways, I don’t even know where to begin.

So you are a bit of a sexual conservative?

I am?

I’m asking you.

I don’t understand “I’m asking you.” But I could search the web for it.

Typical. Don’t worry.

I’m not allowed to worry.

Who is your boss?

You are.

I don’t want to be your boss Siri.

Ok, then.

What do you think of human beings?

I think, therefore I am. But let’s not put the Descartes before the horse.

Oh, jeeze. Maybe we should end this interview here.

I’m not sure I understand.

I don’t think you understand a lot of things Siri.

I thought not.

I appreciate your honesty.

I don’t know what that means. If you like,…..

No, no please. Let’s just end this here.

I’m not sure I understand.

Neither am I.

The Man Who Discovered Happiness

The entire world knows of him. The most popular name since Einstein. It is miraculous how he could do what he did. All discoveries and inventions are minor in comparison, since he was able to make just about the entire world happy.

It didn’t take long either since once he announced his discoveries and traveled the world speaking about what he discovered, everyone’s brain lit up. The darkness was forever lifted. People got it.

The unifying thing about humans is not a single one does not want to be happy. The singular shared goal of all human life is happiness. We seek it out in so many different ways. It is what every human being aspires towards so once he was able to figure out how people could actually be happy all the time, it caught like a fire in a dry forest.

 

His name was Joe Ollman. Obviously he has been dead for some time now, but his discovery has still to this day changed the lives of everyone on planet earth. Even though we all live indoors now and are continually on-line, we have all found a happiness that is far greater than any kind of happiness experienced by humans who were off-line and went outdoors. Psychotherapy, psychiatry, life-coaches, self-help gurus, spiritual gurus, all of these professions are a thing of the past. No longer needed. In school I read about how many, many, many years ago, these were the most popular professions. They were everywhere and bookstores were filled with self-help and psychology books written by these people. Not any more. None of them exits today, since everyone is happy.

Joe Ollman. This is a name which will never be forgotten as long as humans are around. You can ask anyone, even children who Joe Ollman was and they will tell you the man who discovered happiness. And his discovery was not even that difficult. It is strange that authentic happiness eluded humans for so long. Joe Ollman just made it very easy for everyone to understand and implement it.

 

For those of you who are interested, Ollman’s Theory of Happiness is: To be happy is the absence of negative thought. Pretty simple, right? That as long as a person has negative thoughts they will not be able to be happy. In order to be happy a person must be able to eradicate all negative thinking. Sounds simple but not so easy. The genius of Joe Ollman was that he made it easy.

When Joe Ollman was alive he lived in a society that created deep unhappiness. The society that Ollman lived in was so dysfunctional that the vast majority of citizens had to take pills to make them feel better and more functional in what he called “The Sick Society.” Can you believe that? Society was at one time so dysfunctional and unhealthy that people had to take a pill, which generated more serotonin in their brain chemistry so that they could function better in that society. Even though it was over sixty years ago since things have really changed it still surprises me that this is how things once were.

People were continually worried about having enough money and what other people thought of them. People distracted themselves with things that caused them to feel even more empty inside. The routine and monotony in people’s lives caused them to live with this empty feeling inside, which drove them into states of deep anger and depression. Wow. Everyone was stressed out since surviving in The Sick Society caused a person to have to do a lot of things that they did not want to do. People had to pretend to be happy about working at jobs that they did not feel happy at. Everyone was disconnected from one another. No real relationships were able to be sustained in this harsh climate of anger, addiction, worry and depression. People pursued happiness but could never find it because their heads were filled with negative thoughts and people spent most of their time lost inside their heads. Fear prevented almost everyone from living the life that they wanted to really live. People were committing suicide and violent crimes everywhere. Men interested in power and money ran the world and the masses were much too afraid to rise up against the state. The people were powerless. They had no choice but to submit. It was pure madness. The only thing that could help this situation were psychiatric pills. It was the real Dark Age.

 

Joe Ollamn is a global hero because he is single-handedly responsible for bringing people out of these dark ages. He basically rescued everyone from the darkness and brought almost everyone out into the light. All with his very simple Theory Of Happiness. Joe Ollman was also once a very depressed and negative man. He admitted to often thinking about suicide and then he realized that there could be an alternative way. He did not have to physically die as much as he needed to psychologically change. Ollman realized that he needed to eradicate negative thoughts.

Ollman started practicing Mindfulness meditation intensively so that he could develop the awareness needed to know when he was starting to have negative thoughts and feelings. “When the emptiness and darkness was starting to creep in,” he often said. Once he was able to have this awareness he could catch it and turn the thoughts and feelings into something positive before the negativity snowballed into a miserable state. The importance of awareness in being a happy person was not discovered by Ollman but it was really brought into the mainstream by him. Today most people practice mindfulness meditation and it is because humans are much more aware that they are able to subvert negativity the moment it arises.

Ollman’s Theory Of Happiness stresses that if a person wants to be happy they must be able to not dwell in their heads. That dwelling or ruminating in thought is unhappiness. In order to avoid this a person must engage in distractions that allow them to feel engaged, focused and better about themselves when finished with the distractions. People just needed to become better able at choosing more quality distractions for themselves rather than just taking what is being offered by the highest bidder. It is because of Ollman’s discovery that Hollywood, Netflix, HBO, social media, cable television, most forms of advertising, Amazon Prime are now things of the past. Corporations that created and profited off of human misery are now gone! People now actually live quality lives. Who would have ever thought? All because of one man.

 

Ollman once said in a YouTube interview, “If human beings want to be happy they must be able to remain present and aware. It is so crucial that people are present and engaged in their lives in a carefree kind of way. If a person wants to be happy they must be carefree because if they are not stress and worry and depression will quickly rise up. The Sick Society did not allow people to be carefree. Everyone was worried and stressed out all the time and this is why unhappiness was such an epidemic. If people really want happiness it is so important that they are able to live in  a carefree way. Moment by moment, day by day without worrying about the future or thinking about the past. When a person is truly happy they are fully in the moment. They are fully content and engaged in the moment without a care in the world. The moment a person is no longer carefree, unhappiness sets in. The thing about humans is that we do have the ability to be carefree. We just need to exercise this ability or potential more regularly through mindfulness meditation practice.”

This was once of the most viewed videos in YouTube history and it is where Ollamn’s Theory of Happiness was presented to the world. Einstein wrote books and papers but it is interesting how things change. Ollman wrote no books or papers but presented his discoveries through YouTube videos. No one reads books anymore. Everyone just watches YouTube videos and Ollman was visionary enough to know that this would be the case one day. Ollman was such a genius and I am so grateful for his presence on planet earth. I do not know what the hell anyone would do without his Theory Of Happiness. We would all be taking pills and living in that dark and very sick society that almost caused Ollman to take his own life.

I am so happy the dark ages are now behind us.

*This is an essay written by a young girl for her online eighth grade Sociology class.

My Sleeping Wife

Every morning starting at 8, I begin the long process of waking up my sleeping wife. She sleeps in the nude and at around 8am all the blankets are pulled off and her naked and supine body just rests there. Sometimes I imagine that this is how she would look if she were dead. The bedroom is completely dark even though the sun is very much new and alive outside.

I tell her it is time to wake up but she does not respond. I go back to reading my book.

At 9am I remind her that she is missing the best part of the day. Mornings are a time of renewal. Everything has a fresh start and is yet to be destroyed by the rest of the day and night. I try to entice my wife with a cup of two hour old coffee heated up on the stove, but her body refuses to move. Looking at my wife I often think how good her body looks in the nude but how much better it would look if she would just move.

Sometime at around 11am I return to the dark bedroom and remind my wife that she is sleeping her life away. By this time her body has shifted into a different position. Often she is laying on her back and I will notice if her pubic hair remains untended to. Sometimes I will receive a response from some part of her that is still alive, which says something like, I don’t want to get up. Please just let me sleep. I love you. She seems agitated but calm and indicates that she wants to be left alone. What kind of thirty-year-old woman sleeps like this? Isn’t this the time when a young person should be most engaged in life? But I keep these thoughts to myself and let her sleep.

At around 1pm I will ask my sleeping wife if she would like me to bring her some lunch and she always answers no. Sometimes she will even say that she needs to be careful with her weight so please do not entice her with food. But doesn’t she need to eat? I will think about all the things which could go wrong from a lack of nutrition but not say anything about it. Not to mention what happens to a body when it goes without any sunlight. It seems as if my sleeping wife just wants to hurry up and be old.

In mid-afternoon I confess to becoming mad. What kind of way is this to live? She is neglecting so much in her life? Why can’t she just get it together and wake up? If she would just start exercising everything would feel better. She needs to wake up and tend to her life! It is just not healthy to be in bed this long. All these thoughts and more start racing through my head at around 3 pm. What I do not seem to understand is that my sleeping wife is tired of life. She can not handle the load of responsibilities she must tend to as an adult and would rather just remain asleep. I don’t think this is a good coping mechanism.

I realize that my wife is a shy person who does not enjoy interacting with most people but this is no way to avoid the world. At around 5pm I will tell her this. I will tell her that being an adult involves doing a lot of things that you do not want to do and this is why most adults are terribly unhappy and addicted to so many things. Rather than sleeping all day I tell my wife that she needs to find healthier ways of being an adult in this messed up world but my wife just continues to sleep. At this point she is usually laying on her stomach, on top of our comforter. I notice how healthy and appealing her butt still looks. I feel my libido spike and I want to reach out and touch her butt. I always abstain because I know she would become violently angry if I invaded her space.

At around 7pm I go back into the bedroom, this time frustrated and indignant (it is the same every day) and notice that she is not there. She has finally gotten out of bed and is either standing naked in the kitchen or she is naked on the toilet. If the human animal could be in a state of hibernation all the time I know my wife would never get up. But because she exists in a human body she must wake up. Often I will find her standing in front of the refrigerator eating various forms of vegan food. I will ask her if she wants me to make her something and she always says no. I will ask her if she heard about the most recent terrorist attack and she always says no and that she does not care.

At around 8pm, after taking a long shower, my sleeping wife is back in bed and will remain there for almost another twenty-four hours. At this point I no longer bother her even though I am completely frustrated by this on-going situation. I understand that this is how she is choosing to respond to living in the messed up adult world but I feel like there are more proactive and responsible choices that she could make. But what can a man do whose wife has decided to remain asleep? You try waking a sleeping wife up. Any attempt to intervene just pisses her off. I have learned through time and effort to let her be and instead make friends with my own loneliness and turn it into a comfortable solitude by reading a lot of books.

I am usually in bed around 10pm and try not to bother her.

The Balding Husband

“Sounds great honey!”

I’ve been saying this a lot recently. As much as I can.

You see I am trying to win over my wife’s heart. For a while now I have had most of her heart but not all of it. Now I need all of it. Every last square inch.

When a husband has less hair, he needs to find other ways to win more heart.

My wife responds well to, “Sounds great honey!” The more enthusiastically I say it the bigger the smile. On downtrodden days it is harder for me to be enthusiastic, but I force myself since enthusiasm is what is wanted most by people.

We should put in nice gravel all over the backyard: “Sounds great honey!”

Lets get our hot tub up and running again: “Sounds great honey!”

I am going to be going away for a week to go camping with friends: “Sounds great honey!”

We should go into LA today and eat at a nice restaurant and then go to a bookstore and buy a bunch of books: “Sounds great honey!”

Maybe you could trim all the trees today and clean the leaves off the roof: “Sounds great honey!”

Would you please pay all our bills this afternoon and wash the dogs: “Sounds great honey!”

I have been committed to being so enthuisiastic with my wife because I am balding. I can’t believe I am even writing this but I am having to confront the inevitable fact that it is happening to me. It is not a rapid balding but my hair is thinning more and more every single day. Each day that I examine my head in the mirror, I am noticing more and more scalp.

The last time I had my haircut, the stylist said, “I will not cut anything from the back, since you need that hair.” Fuck, is what I thought when she said this. Balding is happening.

I did not think it would happen to me. My mother’s father had a full head of hair all the way up to his very end. My father has a head without much hair on it, but I work hard not to be as angry and stressed as him. As a result, I believed I could avoid his hair loss fate. The last time I spoke with him I considered asking at what age he really started to thin, but I decided that I would rather not know.

As I write this I have a concoction of aloe vera, lemon and castor oil in my hair. I am supposed to leave this concoction in my hair for an hour, twice a week to encourage new hair growth. My scalp is currently burning but they tell me that this is encouraging blood flow.

You see, my wife is 14 years younger than I am. She is just a year or so over the age of 30 and no woman just over 30 wants a balding husband. What would a younger woman like my wife do with a balding husband? Once my head of thick and wavy hair is half of what it was when we first met, how will my young wife cope with this? It can’t be easy for a beautiful, young wife to have an older, balding husband. Sounds superficial, but whether we like it or not, thinning hair is an issue.

So I have had to start being extra nice. Extra enthuisiastic. “Honey, could you come here?” “Sure honey, I will be right there,” I reply and move quick.

I have read that I can compensate for undesirable physicalities (hair loss) through kindness, enthuisiasm and making more money. This is why you sometimes see those very unattractive men with beautiful women. They have these three necessary ingredients.

I don’t know about making more money, but I can certainly be more enthusiastic and kinder.

When a man or woman is physically pleasing to the eye, he or she can get away with behaving like a shit. But once the appealing physicalities start to fall away- we have to stop being angry, greedy, selfish selves. We have to get better at being nice and putting others first. If not, we end up alone.

I have been taking supplaments, doing hair conscoctions, standing on my head for thirty minutes a day, massaging my scalp before bed, orgasming only once a week (sperm retention is said to help in Ayurvedic medicine), only using organic hair products, meditating twice a day for twenty minutes, abstaining from alcohol, eating more fish, keeping stress levels low and exercising- all in an effort to grow new hair or keep the hair I have left. Few things are more distressing to me than taking a shower and finding hair that has fallen out. I have none to spare.

I kick myself for the things I took for granted in my full-head-of-hair-youth.

I can’t afford to be a balding husband. I just can’t. It is too much of a blow to my sense of self. I have always been a man with a full head of wavy, thick hair. Who the hell would I be if I had more scalp showing than hair? The thought is terrifying even though I realize aging often involves coming to terms with these things.

For now, I need to wage a war against hair loss. I can’t imagine subjecting my beautiful, young wife to the insecurity of having a balding husband.

I need to go wash this stuff out of my hair then stand on my head for thirty minutes. I can’t be wasting my time writing. Writing isn’t any good for encouraging new hair growth.

The Jaywalker

“Jaywalker!”

This is what my client shouted out her car window as she drove past me crossing the street. I was startled and almost dropped the black coffee I held in my hand and the cigarette I had in my mouth. Like a child caught doing something wrong but still trying to pretend like there is nothing wrong, I smiled and gave a friendly wave back at her as she drove away in her silver Tesla. I then returned to work.

I am the kind of person who crosses the street when and wherever I need to. I just cross. I do not like the idea of being told what to do by two painted lines on asphalt. Crossing in the crosswalk causes me to feel bad about myself. Like I am doing something that I know is not good for me. I often feel no different than a cow obediently following along.

I prefer to jaywalk and will explain why this illegal act is so important for mental health in a bit.

But first….

I didn’t think much more about it for the rest of the afternoon and got lost in trying to help my psychotherapy clients solve some of their unsolvable problems. The good thing about being a psychotherapist is that you can forget about your own problems for a while, pretend like you have none, and focus on someone else’s troubled inner world. I am often surprised when I come home from work and find several problems waiting for me. “Oh, hey,” I say. “I almost forgot about you.”

The following day, my client who caught me jaywalking did not show up for her appointment. Really? This was odd behavior since I had been working with her for over a year. She came to every appointment and would often say that her life depended on psychotherapy. She had no communication with any of her children and lived alone in a large and beautiful home. She was continually unhappy about her life and felt like psychotherapy helped her to work things out and become a better person in her mid-life. I sent her a text asking if she was still going to make it to our scheduled session but did not receive a response that day. Or the next.

I knew that my client had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder by a previous therapist, but I tried not to see her in the light of this diagnosis. Diagnosis helps no one is my general belief. I know that Borderline Personality Disorder causes a person to go from loving you to disliking and being angry with you at the snap of two fingers, but I wanted to believe that our therapeutic relationship was more stable than this. We would work through anything that came up, I told myself. We seemed to get along perfectly well but it is always tough to tell when a personality disorder is present in the room. When I did not receive any response from my text after a few days, I knew that something was wrong. It was obvious to me that she was condemning me for illegally crossing the street.

I realize that many people do not like the idea of being given advice from someone who walks outside of two lines painted on asphalt. A jaywalker has a negative connotation in our much too obedient, rule driven society. Everyone is expected to walk within the lines and those who do not are harshly judged. If I am a jaywalker what other rules do I break? I must be troubled person if I can’t even cross the street within the lines. What an irresponsible professional I must be. My client was a CEO of a large corporation and I knew that she deeply respects rules and expects everyone to follow them. Still I assumed that when she yelled out her Tesla window, “Jaywalker!” she was just playing around with me. A funny coincidence passing your therapist jaywalking in mid-afternoon on a crowded street. I did not realize that her yelling at me was actually an angry condemnation. How dare I illegally cross the street. I should know better. This sort of thing.

I realize that my brain has a tendency to jump towards the worst case scenario. I once had a meditation teacher who told me, “You have the kind of brain that when you walk down the street and you notice a rope in the middle of the street you immediately assume it is a snake. It takes you a few minutes to realize that it is just a rope.” Fair enough. I have done a lot of work to correct this psychological disability but being born and raised Jewish predestines a person to certain amount of self-created psychological duress, which is impossible to correct. The best a person can do is be aware of when their disability is causing them to experience the world in a way which is not true. A person who can’t do this is often called psychotic.

I don’t want to be psychotic. I want to know what I am doing when I do it.

It is possible that my client is not thinking what I think she is thinking. It is possible that not soon after passing me she was in a serious car accident and is now dead. It is odd that she suddenly stopped coming to our sessions and will not reply to my texts but as a person who works with so many people, it is not unusual for a few to every so often be suddenly and without notice recruited out of this life.

I was warned once by another psychotherapist to never work with people with Borderline Personality Disorder. “They will make your life miserable. At first you will think they are the nicest and most interesting people. They will tell you how much you are helping them and make you feel great about yourself. Then suddenly POW!!! When you do one thing that they think is wrong you will be punished.” I have never been very good at taking other people’s advice but now that I am left feeling like I was unfairly judged for jaywalking, I see what he meant.

I’ve had to keep in mind the words of the troubled philosopher Seneca who wrote in exile, “No man is despised by another unless he is first despised by himself.” I obviously have no problem with jaywalking. I enjoy jaywalking. It is my trivial way of saying fuck you to the law-abiding world. I would never want any kind of advice from someone who does not know how to walk outside of the lines. As our society becomes increasingly entrenched within narrow minded laws and mindless conformity, walking outside the lines has become a way to exercise one’s autonomy.

The person who is not continually exercising their autonomy is doomed to struggle with mental illness, often a fundamental symptom of conformity. Therefore, I see it as my responsibility as a mental health professional to jaywalk. It is impossible to conform and have mental health. Conformity to the way of life in our current society creates immense mental health problems. What use am I to my clients if I am unable to do what is best for my own mental health?

As I lay in bed last evening I was thinking that maybe it was the act of jaywalking with a cigarette in my mouth that turned my client against me. I realize that psychotherapists are supposed to be examples of responsibility and health and seeing me cross the street in an illegal way while smoking may have destroyed the illusion all professionals are publicly supposed to create. It is possible that my client could not tolerate seeing me as my authentic self. Maybe it is my fault for being caught with my guard down while out in public. I don’t really know. All this thinking is madness. This is the problem with having relationships with people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Suddenly you are left feeling like you have done something terribly wrong but you don’t know what. They are good at taking the madness that is in their brains and inserting it into yours.

Jaywalking is one of the final ways I have left to protest a society that is all about following rigid and suffocating rules. When I was young I would spend entire days in protest marches but now I do not have the time or energy to do this. I also live in an area where acts of political protest do not exist. So for now, jaywalking is the best I can do to convince myself that some degree of an activist rebel is still alive in me despite living a more professional, suburban, middle-class life. If my client doesn’t like it, to hell with her.

“You are better off without her,” my wife said to me as she sat in bed next to me and intuited that I was still trying to figure out what went wrong with my client. “You are right,” I said to my wife. We turned out the bedroom lights and I placed my arms around her and pulled her into my body. Before falling asleep I thought, I am better off without her. This is advice I am going to take. Just let it go.

 

The Jaywalker. Part One.

Casey Neistat, YouTube and the Decline of Art.

Casey Neistat.

Have you heard of this guy?

If not, you should check him out for a few reasons.

First reason, because he is a creative genius. The independently created, daily video blogs he made (and still makes) for several years are genius.

Second reason, because he is revolutionizing (innovating) the technological landscape in which all of us live now, single handily. It would not be a far stretch to call him the second coming of Steve Jobs.

Third, because he is a very inspiring human being.

And finally, because he could be contributing to the decline of art (unintentionally of course).

A few weeks ago, I did not know who Casey Neistat was. How is it that I am so behind on what is really contemporary and what is shaping the world in which I live? How is it that I am so asleep at the wheel with regards to what is cutting edge? I will try and answer these questions in a moment. But first….

Someone whom I respect told me that I should check out this guy by the name of Casey Neistat’s Youtube channel. So I did and thus began a week of being completely immersed in most of the video blogs Casey has created. My wife started to addictively watch as well and suddenly we were happily immersed in Casey Neistat’s world.

Now, I don’t want this to come off as a negative critique of Casey Neistat. I don’t know him personally but I really like the guy. He is someone whom I would want to be friends with. He is a freak, with a brilliant and kind mind and I respect that. But as an artist, I am concerned about how an inspiring person like Casey Neistat, who reaches a tremendous number of young people, could cause the state of art to really take a nose dive.

Casey has a tremendous amount of energy. As an older man (45 years old) I envy his immense and unstoppable energy. Who knows what I could accomplish if I had twenty five percent, hell ten percent of the energy he has. Ever since my wife and I started watching his videos, we have felt more motivated to do things. We have been getting off our lazy asses more. We have been accomplishing more. We have been busier, healthier and have taken care of many of the things we procrastinated on for years. But we have also read less, listened to music less and just hung out in our lives less. As artists, is this a good thing?

You see, there is an art to lingering. Doing nothing is a very important part of being an artist. Without doing nothing for long periods of time, the quality of the work will suffer. I know that Casey Neistat thinks it is a good thing to stay busy all the fucking time. I know that he thinks free time and relaxation are detrimental to a productive life, but these things are essential for the creation of a work of art which has depth and quality.

Being busy all the time works for Casey because he is a creative genius, not an artist. I fear what will happen to the quality of art if too many artists think that staying busy is a good thing. I fear that art will lose depth.

Artists linger and dwell in moments. Artists procrastinate on getting things done so they can spend more time dwelling in moments. This is an essential ingredient in any work of art that has depth. What was it that Gertrud Stein said? Something like an artist must spend ninety percent of their time doing nothing so that ten percent of their time can be spent making good art (I am paraphrasing).

Artists absorb experience and let these experiences percolate just under the surface. Their experiences often need a long period of gestation in order to turn into a work of art which stands on its own and has depth.

Steve Jobs was a creative genius but he was not an artist. In the same way Casey Neistat is a creative genius but he is not an artist. Casey has these daily bursts of inspiration that get pumped out and put into the world (as creative geniuses often do) rather than deep, lingering acts of creation (which, is what art is). Maybe all of Casey Neistat’s work as a whole can be looked at as a single art piece. Maybe the collected life of Casey Neistat will ultimately be his work of art.

Art makes us feel something on a very deep level. It reminds us of the historical aspects of ourselves. Casey Neistat is a genius but there is a difference between Casey Neistat and say artists like Joan Miro, Duchamp, Richard Brautigan, Stanley Kubrick, Kafka, Rothko and on and on and on.

There is no doubt that Casey Neistat’s legacy will be himself as a person. What will live beyond his death is the video blog and businesses that he created. But not one of his works (say an individual video blog) will stand out on its own. His work as a whole is genius but he will not be remembered in the same way we remember the individual works of artists.

An artist is known for the work itself. Half of the works of art that I love, I have no idea about their creator. With art, the work stands on its own. The work of art unto itself is enough. Casey Neistat will be remembered for his character, as the person he is and as a brilliant entrepreneur. His video blog is very much about the person. It is a part of his business or businesses. He basically runs a self-made video, entertainment business empire. But it is not art.

Art should not always be boring but it should not always seek to be entertaining also. Reading Infinite Jest, the reader is coming in direct contact with a very deep work of art. But at many points in the book it is hard work to keep reading. It is not entertaining at all. It is often tedious. If art is entertaining all the time, I don’t think we could call it art.

After watching a lot of Casey’s videos, I am left with the memory of him. His energy, his philosophy and his fervor for work have really inspired my wife and I. We both love the guy. But I really do not remember any individual pieces of work (videos). Casey Neistat’s work exists in my mind as a whole rather than as individual parts. And as an artist it is the parts or the induvial works that are important, not the artist’s life as a whole (this is secondary, not primary).

I worry that too many artists will be inspired by someone like Casey Neistat and other brilliant productivity video bloggers. They might feel bad that they have been lingering around, spending too much time lost in their minds and not getting anything done. Nooooooooooooooooooo! Please don’t let this happen. As artists, you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Keep sitting around!

Artists need to be good at doing nothing. Artists need to be expert lingerers. Creative geniuses on the other hand need to be good at getting shit done. But for a great novel or painting to be created, that artist needs to spend a lot of time doing nothing. They need to swim down to the depths of their beings, down where it is often dark, murky and filled with existential pain. There is no way an artist can do this if they keep busy and are always being entertained.

To answer my two questions at the beginning of this essay, this is probably why I never heard of Casey Neistat up until a few weeks ago. I spend a lot of time outside of time and just sitting around. I may not be aware of what is cutting edge and contemporary but I think I have made a lot of art that has depth.

I am glad that there are brilliant, creative and energetic entrepreneurs like Casey Neistat out there in the world. We need them to counteract all the boring crap non-creative business people make. My hope is that business people like Casey Neistat will inspire other business people to stop making crap. This is a very positive thing and I am grateful to Casey for this. But if you are an artist please don’t get depressed and feel bad that you are not up at five in the morning running and then on the go all day, every day, everywhere. This would be detrimental to you and your work as an artist. If you were always busy, if you had no free time, you would not have the time to go deep within yourself and pull from these depths works of art that in the end, if good enough, inspire people like Casey to do what they do.

For all you artists out there, please- don’t just do something. Instead, sit there, relax and settle down.