Monday, April 19, 2004

I'm thinking about cutting my hair. Whenever I cut my hair, it's a symbolic renewal of my efforts to change my life, to renew it.

I had breakfast in bed today. So far, I have managed not to call anyone, not to reach out for feedback. I have started cleaning, slowly, slowly. It's as if the mess were serving a protective function.

If I were to take a wild guess, it would be:

It prevents me from facing my fear of failure and, of course, buttresses my feeling of "not being enuff". Why I should agree with anyone's negative evaluation is beyond me, unless it is just a childish desire to conform to others' expectations in order to satisfy their need for control, so as to obtain their approval and feel safe from their anger and retribution.

All my actions, reactions, initiatives, fears, desires, motivations, etc., are basically aimed at feeling safe.

I just want to feel safe in my life. That is what I want from my doctors, my lawyers, my employers, my lovers, my friends. I only want power towards my enemies, but that is only in order to feel safe from their negativity toward me. Money also is to feel safe: from hunger, from being evicted, from not being free to move, etc. Love is also to feel safe. Health is to feel safe. Everything, bottom line, is to feel safe. If I want security, it is to be feeling safe to be alive and safe to express whatever it is I feel.

It's amaeru to life, which is maybe why I allow myself to show my feelings as much as I feel it's safe to express them, or only when NOT to express them would present a danger to my safety.

When I want to express beauty, that is something that is basic because it has nothing to do with my desire to feel safe.

When I desire to express my thoughts, my feelings, then the feeling of wanting to be safe can kick in and affect what and how I express: I need to give myself permission.

When I make a decision: to move to America, to go on Tozan, to help a friend in need, to go out for dinner, to buy a piece of fabric or a stick of furniture, the very idea that any of these actions might jeopardize my safety or even just my perception of safety, never occurs to me. For instance, when I jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool, as a child who could not swim, the fear of drowning or the fear of not being able to swim, did not occur to me. It did not "inhabit me" that failure could be fatal. It had not become a life habit, only experience and negative feedback and habitual rejection could start a "train of thought" that would, with acceptance, become a habit.

To have a negative pattern of behavior "inhabit one" is the true possession by devils. These are always self-created because they invariably require acceptance, as in the old saying: "He never takes No for an answer". For those who don't, it never is, and they always make the sale.

Edison, in the face of hundreds of light bulbs that exploded, did not say "It's impossible", but rather "That's one more way it does not work, that's one less test needs to be made". In other words, he saw negative feedback as just another step toward inevitable success, never as the hand of fate sending him back to the drawing board.

That's Edison's story, and it's clear as a teaching story because it was merely a matter of making a light bulb that works, that does not explode, or not making a light bulb that works.

When making anything that is based on anyone else's sense of appreciation, you are closer to a sense of failure because you are setting two points up for the evaluation of another person: does it work, or function, as it needs to (a jug, a carpet, a house, a sweater, a meal) and does it suit that other person's sense of aesthetics, needs, desires, level of acceptance, etc.

You are vulnerable because you are dependent for success on your ability to communicate a vision, a standard, a personal taste, which may not coincide with anyone else's: think, in terms of food, only about those people you know who don't eat everything set before them, who only have either a sweet or a savory tooth.

Where taste is in question, there is plenty of room for fashion, therefore, for the potential to manipulate offer and demand, desirability, competition, one-upmanship, etc. This all moves at lightning speed, as a spark can set off a large forest fire if the ground is dry enough. Think, for instance, how mineral water has become a staple in the daily life of New Yorkers, without anyone being aware of where and how it started, or even why. Did someone get the idea or did it just happen? Was it a strategic marketing technique or the groundswell of a natural evolution of something we will never understand? Did ADVERTISING have anything to do with it?

When I design a sweater, for instance, in New York, where the individual climate is pretty much a matter of choice, the perceived value, i.e. the intrinsic value, is not so much quality as it is fashion. So there is very little room for the idiosyncratic or original. No matter how original anyone claims to be, what they really want most is to conform, which is called "fashion" and which gives the edge to the clobber effect of massive outlets like the Gap. The desirability of places like Prada, Celine, Chanel, is the "waiting list" syndrome, which is actually nothing but a marketing device because obviously any of these people have the money to produce "in quantity" anywhere they want. But that is not what they want, because what they are marketing is limited edition, which some people equate with desirability and/or originality. It's for the people who want to stand out in a crowd, somehow, or who, like my friend Irene, want the privilege of not having had to stand in line to get something because of who they are--they are special, ergo they get the rare item, seating arrangement, whatever, without having to wait in line.

It's the opposite of "cause and effect", because the first cause is static (being), not dynamic (doing); but the "being" can actually be a secondary cause, as when a celebrity, who has done whatever it is they did to become a celebrity, now gets something because they are a celebrity. So someone in the wake of a celebrity sometimes can also obtain privilege for no greater reason than proximity, or relationship, to celebrity. It can sometimes happen for a "quid pro quo", as in the wooing of someone who has access to the corridors of power. In Washington, it's officialized and called lobbying.

One way of "keeping it all clean" would be to ask oneself at all times what the cause of one's effects is, from moment to moment, trying to keep the "innen" (interior cause, exterior cause, manifest effect) as simple as possible.

You're back at wanting to succeed in spite of problems, just like that, and not just because they are so bad that someone has had to step in and do it for you.

Once you make your "cause" (for instance, your cushions), it is OK to look for "effects" (for instance, to attempt to sell them). So the looking to sell, where you are offering something, is NOT a begging for a handout; it's just the circulation of energy under variable components that are at some level equivalent: a beautiful cushion is the equal of $75 or a pair of sneakers.

Back to disorder.

Disorder in my life is the effect of disorder in my thoughts.

I have disorder because of the cause that I do not get it that I deserve to have what I want for myself.

When I accept for a value that I do not deserve to live, that I am never enough, never satisfactory, of course I can't counter with the certitude that I deserve to have the environment of my choice, or the body for that matter.

No matter how I tackle my surroundings, my environment, I am in fact challenging a powerful ukase from some superior power that-somehow-I-still-believe-is-personally -set-against allowing me the satisfaction of being, doing, and having what I desire, whether it is good, reasonable, modest enough, or not. As if there were a limit to what I could access, a boundary which I could not transgress. This is not something that exists in reality, it is something my life experience has "habituated" in me by the sheer force of repetition.

A plant cannot do this number on itself because it quite naturally takes what it needs from what it gets in its environment. Lower animals too, but after a certain evolution, they can become greedy and go for more than the others get, though never more than they actually need. Only human beings with greater consciousness got the idea of accumulation, of storing up for a rainy day. Actually, this is wrong: both squirrels and hamsters store food, they just don't have bank accounts. With the invention of money, mankind found a way to protect itself against food spoliage and fermentation. With the development of agriculture, man attempted to foresee the need for "seed-keeping" from planting season to planting season, and eventually invented money as a form of equivalence, so that if you ran out of seeds, as long as you had money and someone else had seeds, they would sell their seeds to you to get the money they needed to buy whatever else they needed which they had not been able to produce. The 13th Century Mongols are a good example of this: they produced horses and sheep (food and transportation), and swapped them for weapons, which they did not produce, and their neighbors then had the privilege to watch them sweep through their world conquering everything before them.

Money logically will always be a problem because it will never satisfy a basic need per se: it is only the equivalent value for something else.

It is not the equivalent value of a human being, however, which is why kidnapping and ransoming is a crime against life.

If all you want in life is money, you will never have enough because there is no limit to desire, there is no "enough" unless you quantify it first, as: I want to have a million dollars, or I want a house with a swimming pool, or whatever equivalent value you are looking at. Then you can have it, have enough, and wonder "What's next?" Then, if you so wish, you can upgrade.

The point at issue in my life, where the disorder "outers", is that I need to get it that I don't need permission for anything I want to do, it's available to me if I can imagine it. There is no application form, no 1040, for life. There is no governor, no bureaucratic authority wearing a little beret, with a smoldering cigarette butt dangling from the side of its mouth, waiting to review and possibly, arbitrarily deny your application to be, to do or to have anything.

What is out there is the equivalent of a huge cold plate of polenta from which you cut yourself a slice whenever you are hungry. You don't own it, but it does not own you either. That is a possible mistake you could make, to believe the polenta which feeds you could withhold itself from you or favor a more favored person or nation.

Animals with claws can catch the next meal but they can also scratch an itch on their body. Man can reach out-of-the-way itches with his hands, and he also can use them to satisfy someone else's itch, even in out of the way places, but also to comfort another with caresses, massages, slappings, rubbings, etc. There are "good" and "bad" ways, both according to intentions and desires. Sometimes these are more in the mind than in reality, and sometimes they totally ignore the other person's point of view, whether in the realm of desire, satisfaction, wellbeing or even respect of life and liberty.

In the absolute, my freedom of choice is limited: by my nature, by my desire, by my ability to either do it myself or provide equivalent value (money, barter) to someone else to provide it for me, or by my imagination. I can deny myself everything: 1) by not ever wanting it or by believing it can never be mine; 2) by believing I can never make it, or by fearing anything I can produce can never amount to the value of what I want; 3) by believing where I am and what I have is all there is, that there is only a past which is the cause of the effect of where I am, nothing to be done about it, there is no point in planning a different future, it's too late now, bla, bla, bla.

That is the point of looking at past, present and future. If you don't like the present, which is the result of what you did, failed to do, thought, believed, feared, wanted, avoided, loved, hated, said, kept silent, in the past, what you can do now is take a different kind of action. That is what will condition the future.

When you stopped taking sugar in your tea and coffee for Lent, at the end of Lent you no longer liked sweet tea or coffee.

When you stopped drinking wine on a regular basis, now you don't even enjoy one single glass.

When you stopped smoking, you started flapping your hands at smoke and became what is referred to sarcastically as "a reformed sinner".

As you always say, Nobbog, you don't become kind, you just stop being unkind.

I guess the moral of that story is you don't become orderly, you stop being disorderly.

As an example, a dirty homeless man is just someone who has not taken a shower for several days. Give him a bath and clean clothes, and you have a clean homeless man.

When you believe in the utter dignity of your life, you take good care of yourself and don't wait for permission. There is no point in arguing the point, or even pointing out the point. Don't analyze it to death, move on like flowing water. You are not here to cater to the world, any more than it is here to cater to you.

There is a point to all of this just the same. As usual, the French have a saying for it: "Un clou en chasse un autre", you drive out one nail by hammering in another just behind it.

So, that is how you change the future. You make a fresh determination, you select a fresh nail and hammer it in, and it will push out the old one.

That's the good news. The bad news is, it only works if you work at it. Hehehe.
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