LGN 78: Clarity

Inside: Why so angry?; My freaking back; State of clarity; Other people’s butts

4AM

A friend posted an open invitation on FB that she was going to see sunrise at Great Falls. I was riding a coffee rush when I read the post and was like, “Coffee in my blood! Let’s do this!”

Fast forward to 11pm. Sunrise was at 6:36, meaning that first light would be, what, a half hour before that? I should get some sleep, right. And I did. Went to bed at a somewhat reasonable time and set my alarm clock for 5:15am. I was kind of regretting having to get up so early. You know. Not looking forward to that early morning intense fatigue misery.

Fast forward to 4am.

Eyes pop open. Much more awake than I should have been. Hm. Maybe I could squeeze in one more hour’s worth of sleep. Uh huh. If only. I must have had too much caffeine or maybe I ate something more high octane than I should have close to bedtime.

It was like part of my brain was wide awake and active. The other part was dead tired and mostly unconscious.

Just off the shores of being wakeful. Waist deep in the ocean of subconsciousness and dreams.

I had the most vivid, lucid thoughts ever. Like, how to proceed with life kind of thoughts. Concrete ideas and courses of action. This is what to do next. This is where you should go. To increase your possibilities. Ideas with legs.

The inner voice that’s usually masked by the outer or voice-in-your head voice.

There were three or four perfect little things to do. I forgot one and a half of them. But man.

Eventually, I fell a little further into sleep — like 75% asleep — and then my phone started barking.

Great Falls opens at 7am, by the way. Got there while it was still dark to wait at the closed gates. Surprisingly, I was second in the line of two. Chatted with a gentleman about fishing and learned a bit about carp and invasive species like blue catfish (can get up to 300 lbs. so be careful with pets in the next few decades ’cause fish never stop growing) and snakeheads (they actually protect their young). His goal is to catch a record carp and he’s up before sunrise on a regular basis to do it.

Note: Great Falls opens at 7am but usually someone will come open the gates a little after 6am. Sometimes.

See? Take a step outside of the predictable flow of your life and you’ll find yourself in a whole new world. In the metaphorical shadows of waking consciousness.

What you encounter may be small and random. It may be grand, epic and life changing.

BACK ATTACK

Ow, my freakin’ back! What the heck did I do and why do I keep doing it?

My hips have been messed up lately. Lift a leg the wrong way and zzzt. And then my lower back, kind of at the point where you would imagine the spine branches into leg nerves. Or just above it.

Then I somehow managed to complete the lower back tweaking doing one last big pull on the rower during a finisher. One of those times when you don’t know if you should train or not train. Take it easy or move a little bit. I choose to err toward moving because I really need to get out of the apartment, especially since I work from home and can easily go days without interacting with another human being.

It felt better once I got moving and warmed up. Not quite right but better. Then afterwards things would tighten up again (or whatever’s going on in there).

Saturday I felt like things were getting better. Able to do okay at the gym. I could feel the little ball of discomfort there, but it was a good sign that I was healing.

Then I was home sitting on the edge of a chair. I think I was hunched over, back rounded, messing around with the smartphone. I felt some muscle pulsing or maybe spasming a little at the base of my spine and realized that if I didn’t stand up it was going to keep getting worse.

So yeh. I tweaked my back by being seated. The good news is that for a while it only hurt when I was sitting, standing, or laying down.

I dosed myself on Advil then went out to a jazz and blues festival to take photos.

I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what started it. It started happening about two days after I did anything physical. I think it was overuse. A lot of hip opening in the training and in yoga, a lot more bike riding, and a lot more sitting. A perfect storm.

Is it a muscle thing? A spinal disc thing? A nerve thing? Inflammation?

I want to do something outdoors on this long weekend. I need more drugs. More drugs!

ANGER

I realized something the other day. In this Information Age with its cacophony of voices and opinions. The internet enabling instant, worldwide communication and the dissemination of ideas. 24 hour news and editorial.

Everybody wants you to be scared or angry. Go to your favorite news aggregation site. Most of it is, “Here’s a long list of things that you should be outraged about today.”

It’s a sickness.

It’s expected in the news now. If it bleeds it leads. “Three people were shot to death somewhere not too far from you. There are no additional details. Now to traffic and weather.”

“A serial sexual assaulter is stalking women on local running trails. These incidents may be related. Or not. Next up, a recap of last night’s episode of ‘Dancing with the Stars’.”

Recently, the news has almost managed to convince me that the world is entirely broken and we’re all doomed to mass, post-apocalyptic carnage.

Even the good stuff then gets dissected and atomized. The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. That’s monumental. Then people are complaining about it. It’s not black enough. It’s not angry enough. Women were marginalized fifty years ago. Not enough gay people. Not enough Indigenous presence. Nothing has changed since then (which is bullcrap,of course, unless you’re in the world of academic rhetoric).

Syria on one hand. Miley Cyrus on the other. Regarding the latter, people of a more Feminist bent saying that people are slut-shaming Cyrus for her bats— insane performance on the VMAs. In the process, they ignore the overt objectification of black women being used as sexual props by wealthy, famous white people. And that pisses off black feminists who already feel marginalized by the feminist movement and/or world.

But all of the -isms anger, I don’t know. It’s not that they’re wrong about the critique of society and especially historical injustice and exploitation. It’s just that all of that history is often conflated with whatever it is that just happened.

Some people are freshly angry about history. Maybe that’s the thing. And they don’t understand why you’re not. They want you to be as outraged as they are.

But it’s not healthy to be angry all the time and to feed the beast. Apparently, in our society and economic model, the more fear and controlled, impotent anger — the more stress — the mass media/info/entertainment industry can instill in you, the more money they make. Yet, indignation seems to be one of our favorite pastimes.

I think that’s why a lot of people are numb. “Sorry, I just don’t have the energy to be apoplectic with rage about this, that, that trial, those crimes, the bad service you got at the fast food place, the schools, the government, the atrocities overseas, what your cousin said to you, the lyrics in that song, some famous person’s butt, chattel slavery, a comedian’s appalling outburst about rape, your flight delay on your way to vacation, and the tax code all at the same time. Or what you just called me when I disagreed with you.”

Y’know? Many of us have so much in this western world of online enthusiasts and we use our resources to express self pity and discontent.

What is one to do? How can I combat the constant fear-anger-shame whirlpool that’s trying to suck us all in?

Find some joy in the every day. Find a way to express ourselves. Find a cause to work for. Think of all the things we have to be thankful for. Channel our stuff into creating something. If we are angry people, crusaders, channel it constructively.

Complain less. Create more.

I don’t know. Just some thoughts after being overwhelmed by mass media and social media lately. So much mental energy and intellect is being wasted arguing over crap or reaffirming our world view by beating up on straw men.

I swear we could be living on Mars by now if all of that intellectual, mental energy could be harnessed and put to better use.

Alright. I’ve got a wedding to get to.

R-O-C-K in the USA!

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