flirting with nihilism

shouting into the void with questions about 21st century living...

When I was a kid I looked up to functioning people in the realm of middle age and thought of them as well-adjusted adults who had this whole life thing figured out. Who, other than someone of utmost competence, could juggle and master the varied demands of gainful employment, being a good spouse and parent, and maybe even a hobby or volunteer opportunity here and there?

And now, as I close in on middle age, I am constantly asking whether I gave the adults of my youth too much credit or whether I am negligent in fulfilling my own responsibilities. I constantly hear that voice telling me I am lacking in one area, and then upon refocusing efforts and compensating for my shortcomings, I hear the voice directing my attention elsewhere, to my most recent failing. So I keep juggling, dropping the ball and hoping to pick it up again before too many people notice. An illusionist can fool hundreds yet dwell on the few who see beyond his facade—and deep down he himself will know he is only one bad showing away from revealing his terrible truths and so he can never rest easily.

How much of this insecurity is natural and universal to all who have ever reached the legal age of majority and beyond? How much of it is due to Millennial infantilism? How much of it is specific to me and my own neuroses? Can one ever answer such questions? Does it make any difference to do or attempt so?

As I near the hill, I am still waiting for the surety of adulthood. Is that all being an adult really is—a waiting game played while moving on about one's life?

Any company that requires its employees to write out their annual goals likely also requires a mid-year review as well as an end-of-year review. Since June just passed, now is a good time for me to look back at my 2020 goals and see what has stuck and what has gone to the crapper.

To refresh, my goals were as follows: + Lose 20 pounds in 2020 + Weekly posts on Flirting With Nihilism + Monthly posts on Truth & Hyperbole + Prep for a novel + Use fewer commas in my writing + Use a custom domain for my email + Donate unwanted books to prisoners + Keep a list of books read + Play more disc golf + Getting back into routine

Please note that in times of catastrophe or sudden changes in market conditions, companies (no matter the extent of their problems before said catastrophes or changes) can always blame the new reality for their failures and I will distribute similar justification where I see fit.

That said, let's get to the review.

Lose 20 pounds in 2020

Though I am currently headed in the wrong direction in regard to this goal, I'm up only five pounds, so there's still time to right the ship. While now losing twenty-five pounds in six months may not be the most reasonable or healthiest goal, I can still make a decent dent. In more positive news, my doctor told me I was still down twelve pounds since my last annual checkup, so on a long enough timeline, I'm still in the positive. Or negative, however you want to measure that point.

Weekly posts on Flirting With Nihilism

This goal died pretty early in 2020, well before the pandemic hit. That's because I joined a writing group and my focus shifted to writing short stories.

Now, with the pandemic, there's less to talk about. There are only so many times you can blog about the pandemic without feeling like a broken record, so I'm not going to force it.

Just this month I renewed my write.as subscription for 5 years. Whether we'll ever move on from the pandemic, allowing people to have something different to write and talk about, remains to be seen.

Monthly posts on Truth & Hyperbole

This one died pretty early too. After a couple months or so, I decided to nix my secondary blog and to start posting fiction on Flirting With Nihilism. Then I decided to stop posting fiction altogether. I now want either to submit stories to publications or combine them into a short story collection of my own, whatever is appropriate for the specific story. RIP in peace, Truth & Hyperbole. Originally you were meant to be a podcast. Then a fiction site. In both lives you were shot down before you could ever get started. May you some day rise like a magnificent Phoenix so that I can justifying buying the domain.

Prep for a novel

This task is a slow-go. I do have the bones of an outline, but now I'm asking myself whether my idea for a novel/novella might be better served as a short story. The story itself isn't dead, so we'll see what final form it takes.

Use fewer commas in my writing

This one is immeasurable. Who the eff knows.

Use a custom domain for my email

I am in love with this practice. I like that I can use multiple custom domains for emails and have them all point to the same inbox. I also like that I have the option of responding from each of my email aliases to keep things separate. Perhaps most paid email providers offer these capabilities but I've experienced it firsthand only with Fastmail, so they get all the credit in this post.

Man, groups that collect books for prisoners are a bit pickier than I expected and because I'm not sure any of my books meet their criteria, I'm left holding on to unwanted books. Maybe I can donate some of them to a school library.

Keep a list of books read

Yeah, this died pretty fast too. Ain't nobody got time for dat.

Play more disc golf

In 2020 I have played a grand total of...zero times. I have no excuse other than pandemic depression that I only just recently emerged from. For now

Getting back into a routine

LOL. LMFAO.

The pandemic crapped hard on this one. I had just started to get into a real groove before March. Once the pandemic hit, it took me about three months to adjust again. Dare I say I have actually found a routine again, so this goal is not lost. It's just been a not-so-fun ride to get where I am now.

Additions

In most corporate mid-year reviews, you realize that you have extra bandwidth for new goals as some of your old goals have fallen off.

So below are some candidates for additions to my 2020 goals:

Social media distancing

In an article published earlier this month, Bridget Phetasy pleads that we all need to practice social media distancing in addition to social distancing. I know it can be hard when digital platforms become pretty much your only outlet for socializing but for my situation at least, I agree with Bridget.

I've decided to take a hiatus from Twitter. I'm sure I'll be back at some point—I always come back, no matter how bad an idea I know it is—so I haven't deleted my account, but I have stepped away indefinitely. People claimed that Twitter was toxic even in better times, and now in the time of Covid I have seen the light. I have a habit of falling in love with the Twitter of old, the Twitter of the early days, when it was a place to find likeminded people and to expand your interests. While you can still find such people and communities on Twitter these days, you will likely have to wade through wave after wave of toxicity for a tiny morsel of what you're looking for.

This go-round I did my best not to get sucked into the culture war, but the culture war got me anyway. And I now realize that while Twitter can be great for finding out what's going on in the world, it is undoubtedly the worst place to find out what's really going on—the real story. Twitter itself is full of people merely screaming yay or nay, and even if someone wants to elaborate a point, there's only so much nuance he or she can squeeze into 280 characters. Maybe they should link to blog posts instead, but nobody blogs in 2020. That's for loosers. (Typo intentional)

News on a lesser frequency

Last year I blogged about how I was done with The Economist and done with news in general. Then I found a deal for a digital subscription to The Economist at basically 25% of the usual price, so I jumped on it. Well, you see how strong my moral fiber is.

Early in the pandemic, I was obsessively checking Google News. I felt the need for timely updates. I needed to know how the world was falling apart as it happened. I needed to know who had the virus, who had been canceled, who was collaborating and singing horrible renditions of classic songs. Imagine.

Until I realized I didn't need all of that.

One of the negatives of the 24/7 news cycle is that journalists and news outlets need to find enough stories to fill that cycle. And so the moment something is uncovered, the story hits the electronic press and is offered to the world in an instant. With no opportunity to check context or facts or for legitimate in-depth analysis. Instead, bias leads the narrative of the story.

It's easy to feel the need for frequent updates when your county is a current hotspot for the virus. But my employer will notify me if the office shuts down. I don’t go too many places these days, so I don’t really need to know what’s open or closed. And those close to me will tell me anyway. And finally, I have built a habit of wearing a mask in public and plan to do so for the foreseeable future, so I don’t care whether masks are required.

Bring on the second half of 2020

The first half of 2020 has kept us all on our toes. I'm expecting more of the same in the second half.

And so we fly into the abyss

For over a week now, I've told myself that I need to write a new blog post. And for over a week now, I've failed to deliver. Few drafts get past the idea phase before they're abandoned. Interesting ideas, upon further inspection, quickly find their way into the recycle bin.

The situation is little better for my fiction writing. Perhaps the difference is that being part of a writing group with regular submission deadlines obligates me to push through and deliver something. Still, it hasn't been easy.

My inner critic has been harder than usual to please lately. I'm not sure of the source of the critic's distaste. Perhaps his emotions are cyclical and it's simply time for him to make himself heard.

Surely the pandemic deserves some of the blame. Though I feel better adjusted than in weeks past, the pandemic continues to affect us all. At the least, it has hindered social interactions, which are often a good source for writing ideas and inspiration. I hope more ideas will surface in day-to-day interactions as life gradually pushes toward a new normal.

I suppose a change in technique brings its own woes. When I first got back into writing, I wrote my first drafts using pen and paper.

fountain pen writing on paperPhoto credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash.com

Doing so made me feel better connected to the act of writing. I felt more in-tune with the process and I felt as if pen and paper gave me a better feel for the pacing and flow of my writings. That was fine when I was writing short blog posts and flash fiction pieces, but as I increase my ambitions and look to write longer pieces—at least in fiction—writing via computer or tablet and keyboard will be necessary for efficiency's sake.

I know the best strategy is to keep showing up and to keep fighting and to wait the inner critic out, but that doesn't mean it's an easy thing to do.

This isn't the blog post I wanted to write, but at the moment it's all I have. I'm going to hit Publish before the critic convinces me to delete it.

#personal #writing

Two weeks into Texas's stay-at-home order, during a company-wide video chat, I told my co-workers that living in the time of coronovarius felt like the grieving process. At that point I was cycling through three of the five states of grief: denial, anger, and bargaining. Despite my best efforts, depression eventually came into the mix and I have no doubt my old friend will visit again, and probably much sooner than I would like. The journey hasn't been the smoothest, but after six weeks or so, I finally touched the acceptance stage of grief. It may sound long overdue, but I took three years to accept what I was feeling after losing my parents, so this timeframe is much better in comparison.

When my office first shut its doors, I hoped the disruption would last only a couple of weeks. Now, at least in regard to this pandemic, I've dropped out of the prediction business. Even the experts have seen their best guesses miss too many marks. All models are wrong, but some are useful, as they say. It's clear that no one has the answers.

When will this end?

The short-term answer—when will most businesses reopen and allow people to return to work—depends on where you call home, as governments are taking varied approaches. The long-term answer—when will the world at large return to normal—is complicated and layered. A better question is, what will our new normal look like? And how much of the old normal will carry over? The Economist expects 90% of the old economy to stay in tact, but that 10% change will have dramatic consequences. Something like this pandemic—something that touches and disrupts the lives of so many so fast—will not quickly be forgotten just because government officials give their blessings for the world to reopen all its doors again. Some people are already facing significant economic and professional challenges, as the unemployment figures show, and may continue to do so even after things open up again. Families may be reshaped as reports of domestic and child abuse are rising and divorces may rise just as they did in China. Some entire industries will be reshaped, their reward for survival.

Those of us able to work from home have the luxury of other considerations. What trivialities from our old lives do we miss more than we ever could have expected? I, for one, never realized that my daily commute brought some benefits (such as time to reflect or decompress between work and home) despite its annoyances. What old necessities do we now realize were wastes? Though I know the importance of networking, I now have very little desire to waste time at industry events with people I don't enjoy spending time with. I have had a few exercises in re-aligning priorities and I doubt I'm alone in that regard. I'm lucky in that I have had some moments of clarity during my time at home.

I don't know what's ahead, but at least I will admit it, unlike so many armchair experts on TV or online. I can't do much of anything to affect the outcome. But I have accepted where we are in this moment, and I will work to accept what awaits us—whatever the hell that is.

#personal #coronavirus #covid #quarantine #stayathome #pandemic #acceptance

When you hear about Texas, a few things may come to mind:

  • Cowboys
  • The Alamo
  • Salsa and cheese dip
  • Big AF state

You likely don't think of the state as possibly being home to America's first UFO crash, which took place 50 years before the better-known Roswell incident. From my experience, most people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are unaware of the Aurora, Texas, UFO incident, even though it happened practically in their back yard.

Long story short, way back in 1897—before the Wright brothers blasted their fly rides into the sky and made it cry—a cigar-shaped spaceship wrecked into a windmill on the judge's property. The pilot, some tiny human-like creature, was buried in the local cemetery.

Of course, any good alien story has to have some additional layers to it.

Supposedly, some metal from the wreckage was thrown into the property's water well and a future owner would claim that the well water gave him gout and so he closed the well in.

When the locals buried the little alien man, they left a grave marker, which was supposedly later retrieved by the army. Truth ears have replaced the marker numerous times with some sort of rock or object over the decades. The cemetery will not allow anyone to exhume the alien, but according to the History Channel's UFO Hunters, there is a collapsed and deteriorated grave at the alien's plot.

Perhaps this story isn't better known because it has been nearly unanimously accepted as legend and was most likely a PR stunt by a local journalist to stir up interest in the dying town. But it's one I like to tell when I get the chance.

I do not believe in aliens insofar as little green men flying around in bubbly spaceships with strange lights and looking for people to abduct for the sake of a little probing action, but I do love the story behind the Aurora, Texas, UFO incident, so from time to time I go to visit the alien grave. And that's what the LaCaze family did this past weekend, while following proper social distancing etiquette, of course.

I've visited the grave a handful of times over the years, and I never know what to expect before arriving. Before my first visit, someone had stolen the marker for the grave, so I had to rely on blogs and other resources to locate the grave on my own. I would not be surprised if I wrongly identified the spot during my first visit.

For my last few visits, rocks have served as a marker. People often leave little trinkets for the alien, and this past visit featured the most absurd collection I've yet to see.

alien grave in Aurora, Texas The current marker for the alien grave in Aurora, Texas

During my latest visit to the alien grave, I regretted not visiting Roswell during the five years I lived in West Texas. The drive would not have been terribly long, and I had plenty of free weekends to cross state lines and gawk at some hokey alien stuff and listen to “The Happening” by Pixies on repeat. I was also reminded of why I enjoy investigating local abandoned places and local ghost stories and such—the stories, man. The stories, which can often entertain while also revealing something deeper about us: our anxieties, our hopes, our pains, our desperation.

another picture of the alien grave in Aurora, Texas Most scholars agree that the alien indeed is not risen.

My son was weirded out by the idea of an alien being buried in the Aurora cemetery. Even after I asked him how he could doubt it after seeing the grave, he held on to his skepticism. I was proud that he was not so easily swayed even by parental pressure, but I hope he was still able to enjoy the lore—the story— of it all.

medical mask on the alien grave in Aurora, Texas The alien will be prepared for the pandemic should he rise.

#personal #aliens #ufo

I've lived my whole life in the Sun Belt, so Earth's favorite star is no stranger to me. But only recently did I grow to appreciate the sun.

That appreciation likely grew out of the first week of Dallas County's stay-at-home order, when those first few days brought grey skies and the daily probability of rain, the constantly dreary forecast complementing the mood of catastrophe. I grew up an indoor kid and into an indoor adult, but due to the extended stay-at-home order, I've never spent so much time inside my home as I have during these last five weeks.

Until recently, I never particularly enjoyed the heat of the sun. But now I find myself looking for excuses to soak up some rays. I've learned to enjoy pulling weeds in the front yard if only for the opportunity to get some natural vitamin D. And sometimes I pull up a chair in the back yard and sit with a book or my Kindle and catch up on some reading in the sunlight.

I'm sure my opinion of the sun will change once summer rolls in, and if history is any indicator, this Texas spring will be short-lived and short-enjoyed. But I'll worry about that when the time comes. For now, I want to enjoy this gift of realization from social distancing.

#personal #quarantine #stayathome #coronavirus #covid19

If you've just woken from a coma and now find yourself unable to make sense of what's going on—or not going on—around you, let me give you a TL;DR explanation: The world's gone to shit in a relatively short amount of time. We all hope our current reality will be temporary, but there's no denying where we are in this moment.

Take a deep breath. Cry if you need to. One more deep breath.

Most of us now have plenty of time to contemplate our pre-quarantine lives. The weekday morning Starbucks runs. Picking up Papa John's simply because we don't feel like cooking on a Tuesday night. Going to a mall on a Sunday afternoon just to get out of the house.

Our first reaction is likely to miss such events. But as time goes on, we may ask how much we needed those comforts, especially the longer we go without them.

Some are making predictions for a post-quarantine world: fewer Starbucks runs, cooking at home more, and perhaps staying at home more in general. Such changes may help to lessen the shock if or when another pandemic strikes.

timelapse of people walking in a mallPhoto courtesy of Anna Dziubinska on Unsplash.com

I'm interested to see how things will shake out once the world starts spinning again. What businesses will survive, and which will close their doors for good? So many on Twitter are calling for others to support local businesses as much as possible. Will this consciousness maintain once we've restored and resumed our busy lives? What will the political implications be? What government restrictions will be enacted or lifted? How will this pandemic shape the conversations around universal healthcare or Universal Basic Income? Will this be the event that reunites us and brings us all back to a sensible center? Will it make us appreciate those we had come to loathe, like our libtard neighbors or our Repubtard bosses?

So many questions. How long will we have to wait for answers? The only thing we can known for certain is that we will see consequences well beyond quarantine.

I spent the first few days of quarantine mourning the death of my routine. I'm still mourning.

2019 was basically my year of building routine. A whole year examining my habits and identifying my priorities and rearranging my day and eliminating wasted activities to make time for what truly matters. I spent the first quarter of 2020 improving what I'd built in 2019.

And then in March all of that came to a halt as a pandemic forced us to adjust to a new normal.

I don't miss my morning and afternoon commutes to and from the office, but I do miss the accompanying certainty of twice a day having at least 30 minutes to listen to music or podcasts or—as I had been practicing for a couple weeks before the call for social distancing—simply driving in silence and practicing mindfulness behind the wheel.

I miss the camaraderie with my co-workers. I miss our jokes and our banter.

I miss going somewhere else only to quickly tire of the place and return to the comforts of home. Though an introvert and a homebody, I was always comforted in knowing that the world was there, waiting for me to join whenever I was ready.

Before the order for social distancing, I saw routine as a necessity. But now I see that in some ways routine is a privilege. After all, to establish a routine is to assume that catastrophe will not come along and disrupt said routine. It is to assume at least a semblance of stability, something we now see none of us can take for granted.

#personal #pandemic #coronavirus #COVID #socialdistancing #quarantine

I recently submitted a short story to a literary journal. While I do not know whether the publication will accept my short story, I have already enjoyed the process. Maybe I enjoyed it because this submission was my first. Or maybe I enjoyed it because of whom the submission was to.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’ve fallen in love with Taco Bell Quarterly. The premise makes it easy: It’s a literary journal dedicated to all things Taco Bell. In the past I had a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about Taco Bell, but since discovering this wonderful journal, my patronage has increased. Now I got Taco Bell on the brain, yo.

After reading through a few stories and poems, I thought, Yeah, I wanna be a part of this. So I set out working on a short story titled “A Taco Bell Breakup”.

If TBQ (as the cool kids call it) publishes my story, I’ll be sure to share the news on this blog and Twitter. If they reject the story, well, I’ll just publish it here because it’s not as if the story can have a home anywhere else. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

Regardless of the fate of my short story, I did learn a few things from the process of preparing for submission.

Revise, revise, and revise again

For me, writing usually isn't the hard part. Revising is the hard part. Once you've pumped out a first draft, you may be tempted to call it done and move on. And maybe that works for a personal blog, but readers expect a little more polish from certain other works.

Write without fear. Edit without mercy.Photo credit: Hannah Grace on Unsplash.com

I revised “A Taco Bell Breakup” six or seven times before I finally called it done. I'm sure the story can still be improved—no writing is perfect, after all—but at some point you have to ship. You have to produce.

Besides, how much work can I really put into such a niche story that likely has only one avenue for publication?

Your word count is too damn high.

My first draft was around 1,800 words. TBQ requests submissions between 500 and 1,500 words.

I didn't see how I could shave off 300 words without changing a key aspect of the story, so I focused on trimming the word count during my first few revisions. And dear reader, I was in fact able to cut the story down to under 1,500 words.

And then I changed the key aspect of the story anyway. But that's okay because doing so enabled me to further reduce the word count to under 1,300 words.

I might push limits by submitting to TBQ, but I'm not going to push limits with TBQ.

Your art should be enjoyable.

Writing can be difficult, especially if you have ambitious goals with the craft. But I can't help rolling my eyes whenever someone talks as if being a writer is some sort of curse. If you don't enjoy writing on some level, then why do you make yourself do it? Don't sacrifice yourself for us. Find another interest that won't torture you so.

While putting so much effort into a story as ridiculous as “A Taco Bell Breakup” created its own stresses, the story itself made the process enjoyable. If I had hated the story, I wouldn't have been able to go through so many revisions.

The story is one of my babies and while I can't guarantee its success or acceptance in the world, I just want to give it the best chance I can. You know, just like my human babies.

This won't be my last submission.

At the latest First Draughts happy hour hosted by Writing Workshops Dallas, I heard a number of writers share their experiences with submissions and rejections. Their stories put to light just how much of a grind getting published is. You can't shop one story at a time and just move on to the next one after the story is published. I mean, you can. It's your writing career/hobby, so do what you want. But you're likely better off prettying up as many stories as possible and pimping them all out simultaneously.

Yet again I'm late to the party.

When I discovered TBQ, I felt as if the publication's obscurity could work in my favor and could improve my odds of getting published. Then, while I was working on my short story, TBQ blew up.

The New York Post sang TBQ's praises. Then the A. V. Club.

I'm always late to the party. Throughout my career, I've hired on at places at their peaks only to see them crash and burn soon afterward, some closing their doors just over a year later. (If you keep running into the same problems over and over, at some point you have to ask yourself if you're the problem, but I swear it's not my fault.)

Now I'm late in a different way. TBQ has blown up and is getting cooler by the minute. Soon someone at Taco Bell corporate will find out about this and he'll worry about how this publication of love and acceptance will affect “the brand” and then he'll order his corporate-y attorney to issue a cease and desist, thereby ruining all that is pure in the lit world.

This is why we can't have nice things.

#personal #writing #TacoBellQuarterly #TBQ #TBQFam #publishing

Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the whole “human experience” thing right. The concern usually arises when I'm expected to reminisce and recall specific memories. Ones that some people take for granted.

The catalyst is often an innocent question.

“What's your earliest memory?”

I never know how to answer such a question. I have only the vaguest recollections from kindergarten, let alone anything before. Is there any utility to pushing myself closer to the beginning of my own timeline? I don't see the point, but am I alone?

These days life moves at the speed of light. And I'm on a particular ray, weaving in and out of traffic and doing all I can to keep from crashing and burning—aren't we all? One day my road will come to a dead end and I don't know how many miles I have left. But I can't see the hazards in front of me if I'm looking back at the obstacles and triumphs and failures of my past.

Why am I reluctant to dig deeper? Is my avoidance a coping mechanism? Like my dark and self-deprecating sense of humor? I wouldn't rule it out.

Has my past experience of grief and accompanying depression eaten away my memory or somehow erected a barrier somewhere in my mind just tall enough to discourage scaling it? At times either of these explanations feels possible.

fence with barbed wire at topPhoto courtesy of Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Do I shy away because I don't like the old me? And who wants to go out of his way to visit someone whose company he does not enjoy?

Is it because I know that people as a whole misremember far more than they are aware? Sadly, this acknowledgment of weakness in human behavior does not make me immune. How accurate are the stories I've told myself over the past 35 years?

Sometimes, when writing about formative and intimate events such as the loss of my parents, I ask myself, Is that really how it happened? If I question life-changing events that have haunted me for nearly a decade, it makes sense to question memories older and rarely recalled.

But the memories are still there, waiting to surface when the time is right. When a movie or a book or a song hits the right note. When someone else shares a certain type of anecdote. When certain birthdays or holidays or anniversaries come up. In these moments, I can feel the memories even if I can't articulate them. They're there. Somewhere.

Maybe I don't want to look back because certain memories are too painful. Or maybe certain memories are so joyous that remembering and acknowledging the impossibility of ever reliving them is in fact a source of pain. That's the thing about grief: Whether you're grieving someone deceased or a failed relationship or loss of job or status—whatever the case—the feelings of loss and the resulting pain are a product of past success or happiness.

Grief is a reminder of the good thing we once had. Some people don't grieve because they haven't lost anything worth grieving yet. But is it possible that some people do not grieve because they have never had anything worth missing?

During my time in West Texas, I made some great friends. We were an awesome foursome, all working in the same industry and simply fond of each other's company. We would often attend networking events together and hang out with each other the whole time, which defeated the purpose of going out of our ways to attempt to network with other people.

I was the first to move away. A few months later, another moved to Austin. A pair is still there. They meet for lunch or drinks every once in a while. We all catch up with each other from time to time. But it's not the same. And it never will be. And when I talk about that friend group, I usually close by declaring I'll never have friends like that again. But I don't say it to be a downer. I say it with appreciation for the moments that were. I got lucky once by making such friends as I approached my thirties, a time when your friendships are pretty much written in stone. I do not expect to get so lucky again.

Similar feelings arise when I think about the deceased I've grieved and will continue to grieve. All that I miss—the funny moments and inside jokes, the support, the lessons, the familiarity on so many levels—are gone and can't come back. My deceased and the relationships we had cannot be replaced. That hurts to admit.

But at least I've experienced somethings worth missing. And for that I'm grateful.

#personal #grief #memories #friends #friendship

Google “how to accomplish sumthin awsum” and early in your research you will likely find advice suggesting to create goals. It's good advice because we find it difficult to achieve something when we don't know what the hell we're trying to achieve. Goals add clarity. Selecting our paths is easier when we know where we want to go.

In your research, you likely find advice saying that your goals should be reasonably attainable. Why set yourself up for failure by trying to achieve something impossible? You also likely find advice telling you to write your goals on paper. Typing doesn't count because typing is for the undedicated, the suckas. If you're not willing to pull out pen and paper and risk hand cramp by writing a couple of lines, are you even committed, bro?

Journal with goals writtenPhoto courtesy of Isaac Smith on Unsplash.com

Not only did I make sure my goals for the new year were attainable and then write them down on paper, but I also put my goals for 2020 in a blog post for my eight monthly visitors to see. This practice is called holding yourself accountable.

And how's that working out for me?

I'm already reneging on goals.

We're not even through February and I'm bailing on some of my goals. And I'm okay with that.

Goals are great because they get you moving. They foster activity. But sometimes activity shows us that our goals are not right for us and our goals need to be adapted or amended or perhaps even abandoned. All too often we hear that we should never give up, never quit. The advice sounds great, especially when it plays out in some epic success story. But sometimes you need to quit because quitting can be a crucial component to success.

Sometimes success requires you to quit.

In The Dip, Seth Godin makes the case that successful people quit. A lot. Successful people find success because they quit activities and projects that aren't working out and instead focus on activities and projects for which they are better suited. Godin does not make the case that quitting is the best option, only that quitting is an option, one that we're often reluctant to exercise. Godin acknowledges that sometimes you have to grit your teeth and patiently slog your way through the dip—that period when you're not seeing positive results—so that you can work your way back to a positive trend. Figuring out when to quit and when to soldier on is part of the art of being human.

Cover of The Dip by Seth Godin

On my 2020 goals post, I said I wanted to publish weekly blog posts on Flirting With Nihilism and monthly fiction on a separate site. I've already abandoned the other site and started integrating my fiction into Flirting With Nihilism. Even though write.as makes maintaining multiple blogs easy, I didn't find the extra effort to be worth it, especially considering that as of right now my focus is on writing, and sticking with one blog makes staying focused easier.

I thought I would take my time to ease back into fiction writing, but instead I find myself with fiction on the brain. And so I still plan on publishing monthly fiction, but I'm no longer concerned with weekly blog posts, since they detract from my fiction.

At least one goal is going well.

In more positive goal-oriented news, I'm almost done with an outline for the novel I hope to start writing no later than January 1, 2021. Not bad since I gave myself all of 2020 to finish an outline.

Sometimes moving toward goals creates new opportunities which change your goals since you now have new options. I recently helped to found an unofficial writers group with a handful of strangers from reddit. I'm excited to see what our group can accomplish and how we can support each other. But this group will require time and effort I hadn't allotted for when I wrote my goals back in December. I have limited bandwidth and so something has to give.

Weekly blog posts, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

Stay flexible, my friends.

Goals are important, but flexibility with goals can be just as important. Perhaps even moreso. There are few absolutes in life—I hesitate to say there are no absolutes in life because to say such would be to make an absolutist statement. Nearly every life rule we hear people parrot over and over has a legitimate case in which the rule does not apply. But we hear only one side of the advice. We don't consider that the opposite may apply in some situations, and so we experience guilt and shame if we deviate from the parroted advice.

When my son utters the nonsense “LaCazes never quit”—some crap advice he likely adapted from something he heard on Pokémon or something other movie or TV show—I have to grit my teeth, walk into the bathroom, lock the door, look into the mirror, and whisperyell through gritted teeth, “HOW DOES HE NOT KNOW THAT QUITTING IS A LEGITIMATE OPTION? YOU'VE FAILED AS A FATHER!”

In short, sometimes quitting is a great option. Try it sometime.

#personal #goals #sethgodin #thedip

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