Am I An Anarchist?

photo-5 I have always thought of myself as an anarchist. I don’t like being told what to do, I disdain the word Boss (I like to say: “no free person has a boss”), I think that government is a huge failed experiment in the endless possibilities inherent in the human condition, I do not trust people who wear uniforms, when I hear media people or politicians saying things like “Americans believe…” I know they are not talking about me, I am not a big fan of capital, sports, pop culture or competition, I think voting is a scam that the mass of mislead people still think actually matters, I feel that soldiers have been terribly manipulated and indoctrinated by those in power, I don’t watch television or identify with any “leader,” I think the president is a limp puppet and every time I see a police officer I have to hold back from shouting out, “Wake up!”

But am I an anarchist?

The last time I confessed to being an anarchist was over dinner with my Republican father. That was a mistake. Fortunately, I had been practicing meditation regularly at that time and was able to not get caught up in the hundreds of angry thoughts that were steam rolling through my mind as my father told me that I was not an anarchistic and that anarchy was a bunch of bullshit. “Anarchy is an impossible dream, it is violent, misinformed and could never work. You are much more intelligent than that son,” my father said as everyone picked at the cheese plate and Caesar salad that sat in the center of the table. That night was one night that I wise enough to realize it is futile to argue with someone who thinks they know everything but really knows nothing at all.

But now several years later I am starting to wonder if my father was right? Shit. I have been reading a small book that I picked up at a zine fair called, “The Anarchist Tension,” by Alfredo M. Bonanno. In this little book Bonanno speaks of anarchy as having nothing to do with what we traditional consider as political and more to do with a way of being, a way of existing in a conformist world. What threw me into doubt about my own anarchistic identity was this sentence: “Instead, the anarchist is someone who really puts themselves in doubt as such, as a person, and asks themselves: what connection do I manage to maintain each day in everything I do, a way of being an anarchist continually and not coming to agreements, making little daily compromises, etc?”

Shit.

I like nice things. I like the home that I own with my wife. I am grateful to have a job where I can help others and make a decent income but for the past year or so I have been struggling with one question that I keep asking myself: Am I living authentically, true to my beliefs, true to who I really am? I keep coming up with the same answer: I’m trying but not really.

All throughout my twenties and thirties I wanted to exist as a writer and an artist. I wanted to be my own agent and not have to go outside of myself to earn a living. This was real anarchy as far as I was concerned. I admired the plethora of artists, musicians and writers who were able to build a life out of their true selves without having to compromise their own identity. This is what I wanted for myself- problem was that I was always broke and had to work at various low paying jobs that I did not really like. I had to have a boss.

After working as a high school teacher who also tended bar I realized that I could not do this anymore. I chickened out. I came to terms with the fact that there was no way that I was ever going to be able to support my desired lifestyle as an artist and writer, so I went back to graduate school and became a psychotherapist (a painful process). And now that I am working as a “professional” in a government regulated, very conservative profession- I can not not help but wonder, is this really me?

Bonanno writes that “for the true anarchist the secret of life is to never ever separate thought from action, the things we know, the things we understand, from the things we do, the things with which we carry out our actions.” So many of the individuals who come to see me for psychotherapy are suffering from deep depressions because they are stuck in careers that they want to get out of but can not. They are experiencing what Sartre called, “No Exit.” They are stuck living a life where thought and action are completely separated. For years they have been trying hard to connect the two but it just does not seem to be working out. Is this happening to me also? Is this the fate of the majority of Americans who live in a capitalist system? Could this be the main cause of mental illness in our first world, highly sophisticated and systematized society?

Maybe so.

But even more importantly- now that I have a legitimate and professional career that demands that I appear in a fairly standardized, conservative and professional manner- am I still an anarchist? Even though I have gained more cultural legitimacy, credibility from people like my parents and financial security have I lost that way of being that characterizes living authentically as an anarchist? Have I become what I always used to refer to as a sell out? Maybe not. Maybe there is a way to function within the system that keeps a person’s autonomy, truth and freedom in tact.

But if I can’t find that way………..

is it possible that I can at least be an anarchist on the side?

Ten Ways To Achieve Blogging Fame

Seven years ago when I decided to start my blog Absurdistry I told an older, more successful writer that I was thinking of doing so. “Why would you want to do that?” he immediately and indignantly asked me. Without much thought I replied, “Well it is one way for me to get readers without having to go through more traditional avenues of publishing and besides in twenty years or so people will not be reading books anymore. People will only be reading blogs and such.” “No way you crazy son-of-a-bitch!” he replied. “You will be wasting your time because a blog will never legitimize your work in the same way that a published book will. Don’t waste your precious time writing on a blog, keep going towards the published book!”

At the time I thought he was dead wrong. An old school traditionalist who had no insight into how the internet was going to change how writers were read. I was convinced (and still am) that the book was going to become a thing of the past and that if I started a blog my work would become just as valid as any writer who was publishing books.

Seven years later I am the owner of a blog with a massive amount of what I consider to be good and honest writing. But I am still without a single published book. In fact, since I started the daily toil of cultivating my blog I do not think that I have submitted one story or essay for potential publication. In all honesty, I was convinced that if I wrote enough on my blog, I could get the middle man or woman out of the way and one day find the literary fame that my younger and more do it yourself self was searching for.

As a writer I am just as unknown as I was seven years ago. My younger self would of been pissed that I am admitting this but I now work a satisfying job as a psychotherapist and meditation teacher (I have had to learn how to quiet my own mind) and I write when I can. On the other hand, the more successful, older writer who told me to forget about blogging has published six more books since I began my blog and is now living in a nice home in the Berkeley Hills- all paid for by his work as a novelist/essayist.

So when it comes to ten ways to achieve more fame as a blogger, I really have no clue. After seven years of blogging and lots of effort to get my blog noticed in the digital universe, my blog has about fifty views a day. If my blog gets more than a hundred views a day- I am impressed. After seven years of trying to achieve blogging fame (and hoping that maybe, just maybe my blog posts will be collected into a published book) I have learned four things: find another line of work, post on your blog when you can, have fun doing it and be happy if what you post gets a few reads.

Seven years ago I started blogging with great expectations and mildly repressed thoughts of literary fame. Now I am content knowing that maybe one or two people have read something that I have posted. Maybe one day my blog will have a kind of Kafkaesque resurgence and be revered by more than a handful of readers. But like my older, writer friend likes to remind me (even though he admits to enjoying reading my blog from time to time), “I wouldn’t plan on it buddy.”

Everyone blogging seems to consider themselves a writer these days even though most are so dull, mechanistic and imaginatively bland that I feel my creativity diminishing a little each time I read their posts. For the blogger who wants to stay true to her or his literary and more creative/anarchistic ambitions- there are no ten ways to achieve blogging fame. In fact there probably is no literary fame. All there is the calm acceptance that maybe one or two people enjoy reading what you write. And maybe those of us who really care about the craft of writing should be asking ourselves when we sit down to write a blog post rather than working on our novel, essay or a book of short stories, “Why would you want to do that?”

My First Cup of Coffee

Sunk-cup-of-coffee I had my first cup of coffee this morning in over ten years and I used to drink coffee every day all day because I was religious about my coffee intake coffee all the time because I loved the taste and the flavor and the way that it put me into a better mood or woke me up or took away my hangover or gave me more clarity and allowed me to get stuff done in the mornings because I am not really a morning person in fact I am quite grouchy in the mornings and don’t want to do anything so I have been waking up and jogging in the mornings in the hopes that this would deposit more oxygen into my body and help me feel better in the mornings but it does not really work that much anyways I stopped drinking coffee because it made me feel very wired and uncomfortable all of a sudden but I guess that as we grow older things like that happen our bodies change and our pleasurable vices become uncomfortable and self destructive bad habits anyways my wife is really into coffee so I went with her last night into this really nice coffee shop in Venice Beach and I loved the aroma of the coffee beans and I got this idea in my head that maybe I should start trying to drink coffee again since the coffee shop sold my favorite coffee roaster from Northern California so I bought a pound of coffee and decided that I would give it a shot because who knows maybe my body would be able to tolerate coffee better now who knows I thought who knows why not give it a try because I would love to have focus and energy in the mornings and my wife was happy about me wanting to drink coffee in the mornings because then maybe I would not be so grouchy anymore in the mornings so this morning I woke up and ground the coffee beans and then put them into a French press and poured hot water over the grounds and immediately I felt my mood shift because I love the aroma of coffee and suddenly I was smiling and happy and excited to be awake and be having this experience so I poured myself a cup of delicious smelling black coffee and drank it a lot quicker than I probably should have because it was so good I was so happy to be drinking such delicious coffee again so I drank and drank it along with eating a homemade cinnamon bun and at first I did not really feel anything so I thought that maybe I made the coffee to weak so I had another cup and enjoyed it thoroughly because there are few things in life as wonderful as a good cup of coffee and I drank my second cup of coffee a bit too quickly also since I felt like if I did not drink it quickly it would get cold and there are few things in life as bad a s a cold cup of coffee in the morning but half way through my second cup of coffee I immediately began to feel what can only be described as a highly focused and wired sensation take over my entire being and I say this because I could feel my eyes opening wider my vision clearing up and my heart rate getting higher so much so that I could not stay seated on my couch any longer but instead I needed to get up and do something I could not just sit there and read my book any more because I felt wired delightfully wired but at the same time uncomfortably wired in a way that I had not felt in a long, long time so I got up and started moving around my house and then immediately I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom and have a bowel movement which I did and it was the largest bowel movement I have had in over ten years because it took three flushes to clear the toilet bowl and I remember reading about how coffee is a wonderful laxative and it obviously is because it left me feeling completely cleared out and wired so I took a shower which I could not stand being in for longer than a few minutes since I felt trapped in that shower and I needed to move around so I got out of the shower and put on some sweat pants and brushed my hair and teeth and cut my toes nails and shaved my neck and then I put on a sweat shirt because I was feeling a bit cold and was shaking a little and I knew that there was no way that I could sit still so I made the bed in my bedroom and then I swept the hardwood floors and then I realized that there was a lot of work that I needed to do around the house so I started doing some laundry and cleaned the kitchen and then I swept the floor some more because I noticed a lot of stray dog hair and the one thing that I do not like is dog hair on the floors I don’t know why I am so sensitive about dog hair on my hardwood floors but I am I really don’t like it feels dirty to me but I have two big German Shepherds and dog hair on my hardwood floors is as inevitable as dust in the air so I know that I need to learn how to accept the dog hair on the hardwood floors and not get so worked up about it all the time anyways after I was finished sweeping the hardwood floors for the second time I was feeling really speedy and uncomfortable so I decided that the most helpful thing to do would be to come sit at my desk and write and that writing would some how discharge or settle some of the caffeinated rush that I am feeling but I am not so sure that it is working because I am still feeling the rush and my fingers are trembling and I can feel the coffee settling in my gut and I am not sure what to do at this point so I should probably stop writing now or else I will keep writing too much and I might end up divulging too much personal information so I will stop writing and I will go get my two German Shepherds and take them out for a long Sunday morning walk or maybe it is too cold outside right now and I should continue to do some work on my house since it is Sunday morning and it seems that Sundays are the days that home owners spend working on their homes so maybe I will just do that because I need to convert my gas burning fireplace into a wood burning fireplace since I much prefer the smell of wood burning over the smell of fake logs in the fireplace so I need to do this I also need to clean the windows since I do not like seeing spots all over my windows because I think you can tell a lot about a person based upon how their windows look so I need to do this and I also need to do some work in my back yard since the pomegranate tree needs to be trimmed and certain things need to be watered so I could go do this since I think that the act of watering is very calming but it is too cold to go outside right now so maybe I will do that if and when the sun comes out because I have so many more things that I need to do inside like I could work on work related stuff but I don’t want to work on work related stuff since work related stuff bores the hell out of me and so I am always putting work related stuff off for another day since I would rather make music or write or draw or read or go for walks or do something that really matters with my precious time rather than spend my precious time on earth doing work related things since I know that in the end I am not going to think to myself gee I wish that I did more work related stuff so I am not going to do work related stuff instead what I think I am going to do is go attempt to sit down and read the very long novel that I have been climbing my way through I should go spend some time doing this since reading is one of the more meaningful and enjoyable ways to spend my time here on earth while I am alive so maybe I will go read for a bit do something other than sit here and write because writing is hurting my fingers and I am making a lot of spelling errors since my fingers are trembling and it is difficult to get my fingers to land on the appropriate key.