Monkeys on the Brain

In college I had a roommate who was obsessed with monkeys. Specifically with the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, but with monkeys in general. Largely because of this person the phrase ‘monkeys’ has become a cuss word for me that symbolizes everything bad in the world. Sometimes it refers to a specific problem, sometimes it refers to the generally cursed and depraved state of the world, sometimes it just refers to the fact that I get in my own way. Right now, I have a lot of monkeys. One of those monkeys is the fact that, over the past few weeks, I have found myself struggling with pornography to a steadily increasing degree. I have struggled almost daily, and generally fallen once or twice a week. It’s gotten to the point that a short-term goal for the coming week (Thursday-Thursday) is to avoid all forms of pornography. Once Thursday comes I’ll set a new goal. Assuming I succeed, it will hopefully be a longer goal (maybe two weeks). If I don’t succeed… well, try, try again, right?

Another monkey has been random bouts of hopelessness. Admittedly, I’m prone to periods of moderate depression. I don’t struggle with the ‘Life is worthless, I’m staying in bed’ extreme kind of depression, but there are times when I feel overcome by life in general. As I write this, and for most of the night honestly, I find myself completely sure that I will die alone. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really believe this… mostly… most of the time. I generally believe that God does have a relationship in mind for me. I don’t know with whom, or when it will happen, but this is still my general assumption. Most of the time. Tonight, my general assumption is that no one will ever love or desire me, and thus that I will die old, alone, and probably miserable. I’m pretty much convinced of this really. I mean, it’s obvious, isn’t it?

Feelings are deceptive things. They don’t portray reality in any meaningful way, and often they portray the very opposite of reality. Right now I know that there are people who love me. Perhaps no women who have a romantic inclination towards me, or at least none that have let me see that inclination, but people who love me whole-heartedly nonetheless. However, I don’t feel loved. My feelings don’t particularly care whether I am loved. The thing is, and it took me a long time to learn this, I can’t rely on any other person to make me feel loved. Most of the time those people don’t have a clue how to in the first place, and even if they did know how, they won’t always be able to.

I do want to find a woman who will love me. A woman who will want to take care of me, who will desire me and desire to be taken care of by me. A woman who will want to make me feel loved. However, even if I do find such a woman, it would be a disservice of me to always rely on her to make me feel loved. That isn’t something that she will ever be capable of. If I put my feelings in her hands, she will fail. This doesn’t mean that I am unwilling to give her my heart or my trust. I’m simply saying that she will be human, and prone to all the failings that humans have. Her love, however it appears, will be imperfect.

Honestly, this is obvious, and we’ve all heard it a thousand times, but I need to rely on God in these struggles. Not on people.

And Advice to Men

Being that I am a man, not a woman (or at least I keep telling myself that), I figured that it was only right for me to follow up my advice to women with some advice to men. Some of my advice for both groups is the same, but a lot of it isn’t.

1) Read Rudyard Kipling’s If: I’ve referred to this poem several times in the past, and I honestly think that it is one of the best short guides to manhood ever written. Kipling’s poem strikes at the core of existence, and of what it means to actually be a man, instead of being a boy pretending he’s a man. Read the poem, memorize the poem, live the poem. This is also good advice for Psalm 1.

2) Stop Looking for Easy Fixes: We all want to find the easy way out. Water follows the path of least resistance and people tend to do the same. However, the easy option often isn’t the best option. Roll of your sleeves and get yourself ready for some hard work, because life is a dirty business and it doesn’t play fair. For that matter, stop worrying about what’s fair and start worrying about what is. In the long run it really doesn’t matter why you didn’t get the job or why the girl turned you down, it happened. Learn what you can from it, get back on your feet, and start moving forwards.

3) Do Something!: In a fight the worst thing you can possibly do is stand there and think. If you are doing something, then you’re losing the fight. Life is the same way. What you do might not be the best thing, it might not even be the second best thing, but its not the worst thing. The worst thing you can do is absolutely nothing.

4) Be Willing to Wait: This isn’t actually contradictory to the last point. You should be doing something, but know when you need to go and do something else. Sometimes there is nothing you can do in a given situation. This means that you have to wait, so you need to wait. Go do something else for a while. Apply to a school, get a job, write a novel, whatever, but fill your time waiting with something, even if it’s just relaxing.

5) Be a Gentleman: I know that it gets you nowhere. I know that women don’t appreciate it, and some of them even get mad at you for it. I understand that being kind, courteous, respectful, and thoughtful isn’t the way to get laid or to get rich. Do it anyway. Do it because it’s right. Do it because, even if she doesn’t thank you for it, you will make her feel better about herself by treating her with gentility and respect. Do it because you want to make her happy, not because you want to get something from her. This is a big part of being a man: stop thinking about yourself.

6) Get Your Priorities Straight: We live in a culture that doesn’t value men. We are taught day in and day out that men are either pathetic wimps or mindless thugs. We’re taught that men are evil and need to be civilized. We’re taught that what makes you a man is the size of your dick, the scope of your fame, of the contents of your wallet. None of this is true. Real men aren’t brutes. They are gentle, kind, and care about others. However, they aren’t wimps either. They will stand up for the people they care about, even when they wouldn’t stand up for themselves. Real men are defined by their understanding of themselves. They aren’t goaded, don’t need to prove themselves, and think highly of others. Focus less of what you have and more on what you are.

7) Commit: I don’t care if its to the girl you’re dating, the career you’re pursuing, the church you’re attending, etc. Commit to something, and make a habit of commitment throughout your life. Don’t be afraid to leave if you have to, but don’t leave just because you want to, or because you’re afraid. Commit to something in life, and keep committing to things.

8) Stop Looking for Perfect: Chances are you’re not going to marry a supermodel. Stop looking for the perfect girl and start looking for the girl who is there. This isn’t to say that you should date/marry someone you don’t like or aren’t attracted to. I’ve done that, it doesn’t end well. However, stop obsessing over little things that don’t matter. Find that women in your life who you do get along with and who are attractive and pay attention to them. Give them a chance before you go back to mooning over… whoever, I don’t really follow modeling. Heidi Klum… she’s still hot, right? Stop mooning over Heidi Klum. She’s probably married anyway.

9) Deal with Porn: You probably look at porn. If you don’t yet, then don’t start. Run far, run fast, and never look back. If you do, you might be struggling with porn or you might just enjoy porn, either way you’re not doing yourself any favors. Understand that it’s wrong, just like any other sin. Don’t defend it, don’t excuse it: hate it. Hate porn with everything that’s in you and fight to get away from it. However, understand that it is a struggle, just like any other struggle. It’s not okay to fall, but you probably will. When you do, get back up, ask forgiveness from whoever you need it from, and start the fight all over again.

10) Treat Her Well: If you have a special lady in your life, then treat her well. Treat her like she’s the queen of the world. Heck, either treat her like you love her, or break up with her so she can find someone who will. I don’t care if you don’t see much reciprocation from her. Do it anyway.

11) Turn Off You’re Damn iPod: This goes for everyone. The world is filled with more lonely, hurting people than at any point in history. Turn off your iPod, take out your headphones, close up your computer, and say hi to a stranger. We tell children not to talk to strangers, but you’re not a child anymore. Grow up and act like a human being instead of a cyborg. Introduce yourself, talk to people, make friends, and act like you give a fuck about someone else.

12) If She Runs, Don’t Chase Her: There’s a difference between a girl who’s letting you chase her, and a girl who’s trying to get away. Learn that difference, it’s really important. If a girl’s letting you chase her, then chase her until you catch her. However, if a girl’s running away, then let her run and don’t expect her to come back.

13) Hygiene: Take a shower. Wear deodorant. Change your underwear. Don’t spend an hour fixing your hair. Stop getting mani-pedis. Clip your nails. Get some exercise. This isn’t hard people. Wearing a suit everyday doesn’t make you a man. However, neither does being a stinky brute covered in animal skins. Take care of yourself and do you best to present a pleasing appearance.

Again, that’s it for now. Hopefully some of this will sink in.

Grak-Tor!!

I hate porn. I also believe very strongly in the freedom of speech and expression, and that American law should reflect the American people, not attempt to impose the value system of one small group of that people on the rest of the nation. To be consistent in this position I find that I have to argue that the obscenity exception to the first amendment really isn’t legitimate, but is instead an imposition of specifically Judeo-Christian values that probably shouldn’t be a part of the law.

That being said, I with that all porn was illegal, that any creation or distribution of porn came with stiff fines… and perhaps prison time. I wish that porn wasn’t a part of the internet, and that it wasn’t a part of my life. I wish that I didn’t struggle with it. Unfortunately, none of the above wishes are true, or even realistic. Porn is legal, and to be consistent with my beliefs I have to say that it should be legal, much as I wish that it wasn’t. It is a part of the internet, and that’s never going to change, and it is something that I struggle with. Hopefully someday that will change, but it hasn’t yet. So, this all leads me back to GRAK-TOR!!!

Yes, I’m well aware that none of you know what that means. Unsurprisingly, I’m fine with that. There are a great many situations in which we don’t get what we want. Even more in which we get what we thought we wanted, only to find out that we didn’t really want it all that much. We are incredibly dumb people.

I’m currently reading Madame Bovary, which has nothing to do with porn so far as I can tell, but which has everything to do with being incredibly dumb and not knowing what we want. So far, the book is about a woman who doesn’t have a clue what she wants out of life and hurts everyone around her trying to figure it out. I find that I identify with that very closely, and it makes me wonder how much pain I’ve caused simply by being an idiot. I know how much pain I’ve been caused because of the idiocy of others, but I can only guess at how much pain my own idiocy has caused. I’m going to guess that I’ve probably given at least as bad as I’ve gotten.

I’m using the terms ‘idiot’ and ‘dumb’ here in a technical sense. For those of you who don’t know, and probably have never actually cared, an ignorant person is a person with out knowledge. We are all ignorant about many things, and there isn’t really anything wrong with that. Ignorance is simply a state of being that can be changed. A stupid person, however, is a person who staunchly clings to their own ignorance, even when they have a chance to change. A stupid person refuses to learn, even when he has repeated opportunities. There is something wrong with that.

An idiot on the other hand, or a person who is dumb, is a person without the intellectual capacity to learn something. For instance, it’s not that I am stupid and refuse to learn to play the piano. It’s that I have no sense of rhythm, and that I’m tone-deaf to the point that I can’t really tell the difference between listening to Mozart and listening to Beethoven (I’m told there’s a big difference), and thus no matter how hard I try, I utterly and completely fail at playing the piano.

So, when I say that we are idiots, what I mean is that no matter how hard we try, we are going to fail. We are going to make foolish decisions,  we are going to hurt people, and we are going to get hurt. Hopefully we can be smart enough to eventually stop making the same foolish decisions (for instance, I’m not going to date another emotionally disturbed 19 year old), but we will still make entirely new foolish decisions. Only God can save us from ourselves.