Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Sins Of Wages

Four weeks ago, I developed a really nasty sinus infection. The mother of all sinus infections, if you will.

For the past month or so, I've suffered from insomnia of the worst kind, the kind where you are fast and deeply asleep, only to be roused by a coughing jag. Kind of like electing a Bush after eight years of peace and prosperity.

I finally went to a doctor last week ahead of a trip I am taking at the end of this week (which is why I haven't been lobbying hard for the Weblog Awards for Simply Left Behind, but please do vote!), was given antibiotics and sent home to heal.

Heal I have, to a degree. And yet, here I am this morning, awake at 2:30 after three hours of sleep. My thoughts are racing, flitting like fireflies about me. This thought lights up, dims, and another flashes off in the corner of my other eye.

I hate nature.

I woke to a vague recollection of a dream about this contest. At first, I thought I was disturbed by my casual attitude towards it. I cannot deny there is a hypercompetitive part of me that simply will not allow me to fail. This being the slack time in between the election and the inauguration, I thought I'd explore this a little.

As I lay there in the dark, the cat watching me through one eyelid, I let my mind wander. This was not about the contest, to be sure, although I did manage to stroke that part of my id into relaxation.

There's something more. I'm disturbed by what I have allowed myself, and by extension this blog, to become.

Each morning, I sit at a PC, either in my office or at home, and I search for a story to write about. Recklessly disregarding the fact that I really don't care about half the stuff I read online, I choose a topic.

Usually, I search Memeorandum and see what other bloggers are talking about. I admit to a frisson of excitement and satisfaction when I see my name, with SLB attached to it, listed as commenting on a story. If an orgasm is la petite morte in French, then this is the cigarette afterwards.

Bollocks. That's what's pissing me off about life. I'm tying myself to what other people think and see. I'm letting the world set my agenda for me. I'm taking myself way too fucking seriously.

Now, the practice of writing a blog every day has its charm and its advantages. For one, by forcing myself to write daily, I'm forcing myself to be a better writer, to learn what mistakes I'm capable of and to prevent them. For another, it usually kills about 30 minutes at work, and probably stops me from playing FreeCell.

In 2008, it was too easy to write a blog, and I suspect that by the end of this year, an awful lot of blogs that popped up during the Bush administration will close down. And why not? People aren't as angry. Obama seems to be a decent sort who is committed to turning America around again. It's going to be hard to find something to take umbrage at and write a 3,000 word screed, mixing humour and anger, rage and fear.

Fear. Yes, that's what I want to talk about today. It's odd, but each year around this time, sins and emotions seem to be the backdrop to our lives.

Most sins can be understood in context of satisfying a need: envy, for example, keeps us up to date with what people around us have, and so we increase our odds of breeding by "keeping up with the Joneses," lust provides us with a motivation to collect genetic material from as many mates as possible, and so on.

Underlying all these, I think, is fear. Fear is the mind-killer, as Frank Herbert put it, by way of Huxley.

Fear is, I believe the yan to the yin of love, which I think is the underlying emotion behind all happiness. Blend fear and love, and you pretty cover the emotional gamut of humanity.

Anger, jealousy, hatred, all involve some element of love, even if that element is self-love and not the love for another person. We can delude and rationalize our anger at our spouse or child as "being good for them," but in reality, it's more about us taking care of ourselves than caring for someone else.

But notice also there's an element of fear to that love: by lashing out at those around you, you are warning them that they are scaring you, threatening you in some way. And it doesn't even have to manifest in rage: anger expressed in the most gentle way is still anger and still about fear.

On the flipside, you see joy, openess, and giving, which while all perfectly self-loving, involve far greater blends of love for someone else, and much less fear.

Even in these emotions, there's some fear involved. When you first tell someone you love them, there's always the chance they'll reject you.

Which brings me back to my original message, my original thought, my insomniatic stream of consciousness: what do I fear, by manipulating my energies and thoughts so they conform with what the rest of Blogtopia (© Skippy) is talking about?

Does it really matter to me that my hit counter is ringing every day? Does it make a difference in my life, apart from making me feel a little better about myself?

No, not really. So the question becomes, is that feeling worth it? Is the self-esteem tied up in that stupid little ticker worth the effort of being topical?

I'm not earning a single dime off this thing, yet I write more here in a week than I have in a month in the book I'm supposedly working on to sell.

I'm communicating and yes, that's important to me. I have thoughts and ideas and they need to be expressed, but not on the world's terms.

On my terms.

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