Friendship vs. Self Care

It’s not so much having to say goodbye to a friendship. It’s inevitable as life pulls people in different directions sometimes. It’s when you try to default to “you don’t always see friends, but they are always there” … and you can’t convince yourself that it remains true. Even life is rare if you think about it. Good friendships are rare. Good friendships that emerged over 10 years ago are extremely rare. However, when someone goes absent and it’s no longer in their heart, it becomes a difficult decision.

I worded the above line many different ways and it’s likely still not what I would like it to be. The problem is that I don’t want to sound like I am calling it quits because life has its ups and downs. However, I am not in it the way I used to be. In this particular case: despite dealing with unemployment, starting a very difficult job that has a steep learning curve and being backlogged, family stress (custody battles), and many other events…I’ve still done my best to at least check-in. Others have their chaos as well, but isn’t that the point of friendship? Aren’t true friends supposed to be there for support and a sounding board (for when we’re being stupid) and a mediator when we’re figuring things out? Life gets busy but a distant friendship that isn’t supportive or present seems to nullify the definition.

I have struggled with this for at least the last three years regarding many friendships. I had reached a point where I couldn’t take being the one who was always trying or the only one who visibly cared. I care deeply about these people. In fact, if you’re torn and miserable about having to part ways in a friendship, it’s proof that you do care. It’s those who seem to shrug and pass it off as “life happens” that I worry about. Also, in some cases, being more transparent to the other person in friendships that were in trouble helped renew the friendship. So, this is in no way a negative only piece.

“When friends aren’t present”Life has always and will always interrupt many things including friendships. However, with the onset of social media, posting and likes, followers and instant gratification dished out by cellphones we never seem to put down..this is likely much worse than it’s ever been. Ten or fifteen years ago, I used to complain or get frustrated with a lot of people’s mentality of “it’s all about me”. If only I knew what was coming, I would have been more grateful. I love technology, it’s wonderful, but there are always bad side effects to things that make certain things more convenient. Being someone with social phobia, instant messaging programs were my way to channel friendships and be myself. Then, smartphones were invented and it still wasn’t bad because people would stay in touch.

Today, it seems like that “fad” for many is over. It’s become more about sharing memes, political posts, sharing, sharing rather than actual personally generated content. I feel Facebook is on the other side of the hill these days. Other than group conversations (messaging), for most it’s really not about staying in touch with families and friends any more. If it were up to me, we’d all go back to emails, phone calls, actually physical hangouts, and overall real contact rather than regurgitated posts where nothing is personal to that person and often the quotes aren’t even verified anyway. In 2005, I realized and proudly saw myself as a humanitarian because I always believed there was good in others and that society would prevail. Fourteen years later, I feel like that version of me would’ve had the oxygen sucked out of his lungs at how things would come to be. Back then, I used to do artistic self portraits (amateur). I have since quit doing those because it’s diminished to being seen as “selfies”, as if setting up a scene and atmosphere along with lighting is comparable to someone who has their phone on a stick.

This isn’t as organized of a post or writing as I’d like it to be, however, I realize that I’m very emotionally invested in this topic. The bottom line: even those whose friendships I’ve had to part ways with: it saddens me and I very often severely miss those people. This especially of long term friendships. In all cases, so far, those friendships needed to end because one or the other has gone in a different direction in life and I’ve questioned their sincerity with me when and if we do end up talking. I’ll be honest, it sucks. It’s not like someone betrays you and you get so angry at them that it becomes your healing. I take friendship and personal relationships far deeper and more seriously than that. That wonderful quality is also my downfall if others choose to take advantage of it or when controlling people come along. I can only hope that for everyone, the apathy and self-centeredness at least decreases as society as a whole suffers because it’s exponential.

Dedicated to Victims of Internment Camps

I wish this wasn’t something that the US continues to sweep under the rug. Mike Shinoda’s family was actually one of the 110,000-120,000 people who were forced to relocate and incarceration in interment camps in 1942. Very unjust treatment including the fact that many died while in the interment camps. Those who returned were considered guilty and came home to find their homes and businesses destroyed. I thought Roosevelt was probably (wasn’t alive obviously) a good President for the most part. However, he really dropped the ball in signing this order. Even our way of smoothing it over and sugarcoating it as “internment camps” and “relocation centers”. Granted, they weren’t deliberately sentencing people to death. However, they weren’t properly cared for (starvation, sickness), and many were shot if trying to escape. They’re lives were destroyed over paranoia. I realize it’s not as horrifying as Germany’s concentration camps, but that doesn’t mean it was innocent. To me, it was extremely wrong.
While I still have interest in studying the topic further, when I have time, with focus on what was done to attempting to remedy destroying these people’s lives. One could argue that Manzanar was declared and saved as a historical site. One could also argue that a memorial in Washington DC. there was a memorial created …however..consider the title as “Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II”. It’s washed over and sanitized to sound as if they had a choice or even made the US proud for anything less than decades after the camps. Again, they were tormented and their homes, businesses, and sense of safety were completely destroyed. Yet, it’s labeled as Patriotism and “symbolizing the body and spirit of Japanese Americans during the war”. As much as I love the National Park Service, it also begins its description to include ” reflects on the legacy of Japanese internment camps in the United States during World War II”. Legacy? Are we proud?! I’ll give the writing of the description credit that it followed up with admitting they were treated with suspicion, forced to stay (let’s just use the true word “incarcerated”) for several years. 

Courtesy of the Equal Justice Initiative

Takeaways: Paranoia and fear is dangerous. Why isn’t there a memorial day in recognizing both their strength to forgive as well as celebrating our ability to admit a horrible mistake. Being held accountable makes a country stronger. Let’s also not forget that many Muslims faced completely unjust violence and assumed to be guilty and anti-American. Again, no true apology or attempt to stop the backlash. My city seems to be more forgiving and anti-racist than the state as a whole, where parts are extremely bad. 

If being patriotic means looking the other way when my country doesn’t do the right thing, obviously, rather than wanting to hold certain events as unacceptable…then you could call me what you want. I think patriotism means being devoted to your country being the best and strongest that it can be. If that means admitting that horrible mistakes were made and horrible things in current times need to change, then it’s allowing a country to evolve into something bigger and better than it was. 

Those are my thoughts as a proudly anti-racist, anti-sexist, ….anti-prejudice person. 

Interment of Japanese Americans
History: Racial Injustice, Forced Internment of Japanese Americans (Equal Justice Initiative)
National Park Service: Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II
Fort Minor: “Kenji” lyrics

Who wins in a fight of value? Tough Skin or Sensitivity?

Tough Skin vs. Sensitivity

It’s an internal battle that I’ve always had. On one hand, I know we all need to have tough skin to deal with the world, the people in it, and very tragic circumstances that surprise us. However, I’ve never really been able to buy into that 100%. It’s not because I’m weak, honestly, it’s the opposite.

At least a couple of psychologists have been surprised, and quite happy, at how self-aware I am and how deep I can look into myself…trying to find the answers for myself at least. Toughening my skin may work in a couple key situations when I have no impact on the outcome or if others are being malicious. Overall, it doesn’t really benefit anyone else and, in my perspective, doesn’t benefit myself most of the time. I know, we live in a pretty self-serving, egocentric society these days where most are looking at the question: “What do I get out of it?”… That’s a shitty mindset to have regardless of what social media and various “experts” give their opinions on.

The problem that I continuously run into is that I’m always battling myself on the so called “naughty” words of psychology: should/should’ve, could/could’ve, can’t, etc. I’m always second guessing myself because there’s enough people who think that tough skin is far better and they’re often not afraid to present their criticism. Don’t get me wrong, constructive criticism is good and being lied to about what someone thinks of you is the wrong direction. However, for myself, it makes navigating through social life about as easy as trying to steer a yacht through the choppy mid-ocean waters. That’s where the horrible habit of second guessing myself comes in.

I seem unsure of myself, unsure of what I want or wish to be, and many other things. Most of the time, things are very different from this. On many topics, I’m very sure of who I am and what my strengths/weaknesses are. When it comes to socially,…I’m still at a complete loss. Interestingly enough, this is what most people view and judge others on. I know I love web/software development, playing instruments and writing music, amateur photography, reading philosophy and psychology, diving deep into complex concepts of Alan Watts and so on. In contrast, when it comes to my social self, I have no idea. Being one who enjoys reading about psychology, there are likely things in my childhood that contributed to this social noise in my head that blocks positive outings and connections. However, those who know me well know that I don’t see those possible reasons as the driving force today. It’s possible that I put too much pressure on myself to change something that’s very hard to change. Perhaps it’s philosophy and concepts of training myself to keep my mindset 90% in the present at all time.

I think what’s most difficult for those with good intentions to understand is that I don’t intend to be a pain in the ass, annoying, a stick in the mud, or anything else of that nature. I don’t think most understand that when someone is nice to me, it confuses me. Obviously, I don’t want someone to be mean, but I suppose I’ve gotten so used to many (over many years mind you, nobody in particular) being either cruel/malicious or 100% neutral that when someone does take me in, express a lot of interest in knowing me…it confuses me as much as my reactions to it commonly are.

What is better…tough skin or sensitivity? If I knew the answer to this question, I wouldn’t be writing this. Philosophers have also been trying to answer questions like this for thousands of years. I can only theorize that it’s very unlikely I’ll truly find an answer other than what makes me comfortable and helps me progress to aspire to be happier in life.

Let It Be Random

I have been attempting to get some writing done for this “blog” for awhile now. “Blog”. Why does it seem that it is such a negative or silly word now? Perhaps it’s far too much bullshit that got spewed around years ago when sites like Blogspot, Tumblr, etc took off. Naturally, not everyone’s voice is great and has a purpose. Or does it? Regardless, a random post is just how this needs to start to get some momentum

Note: I am a web/software developer and there is a part of me that feels like a fraud for this being on (not even the WordPress CMS? what gives?!). However, working all day on Java applications and also having personal Laravel (PHP framework) and Umbraco (C# CMS) projects already going doesn’t leave a ton of time and shoulder rest to kick off a WordPress CMS site right now. As for a template WordPress CMS site…to me, that’s as bad as just having it hosted here. When I have time for writing tons of CSS and JavaScript, these posts will just be exported and imported. No biggie.

I do plan on trying to keep some anonymity on this blog (or one day site(?)) so I can comfortably speak freely. Regardless of the topic: music, technology, web/software development, mental health, philosophy, psychology, and far beyond. Maybe that helps a random browser understand this blog, …maybe not. However, their reaction, thoughts, and perception are beyond my control…nor do I want them to be.

Let the Random Begin!

Does it get any better than Maynard/Tool with Henry Rollins? Well, many things can be great but “Bottom” is still classic!

While on the topic of Tool, I’ve been trying to get myself back into playing guitar, keyboards, singing….a lot more lately. I started recording my own music in 1997. However, I haven’t written or recorded anything (sadly) since 2012. It is due to many reasons, I suppose. One of the songs that I’ve been using to remind myself that playing guitar (for this example) is more about passion and feeling every note rather than being overly concerned with how difficult the riffs are is Tool’s “Pushit” (from 1996’s Ænima). Rather than playing along to the album version, however, the now discontinued Salival DVD/CD set has a beautiful reworking of the song. Adam Jone’s guitar is broken down, refactored down to very simplistic and repeating melodic riffs. It’s the intro to this recording and the first half of the song (the reworking) that helps me close my eyes and picture myself again as a sixteen year old kid writing music to get the demons out.

“I will choke until I swallow…
Who am I to judge or strike you down?”

Finally, the dreaded first “real” content is up and ready.

Be kind to each other