There is something to be said for my method of shadow dispersal, despite its rampant self-destructive nature: it acknowledges bad parts of me as parts of me. I'm never going to be rid of my most basic character flaws, the first of which is my near total lack of character. "Just because you are a character, doesn't mean you have character," quips Mr. Wolf near the end of Pulp Fiction. This is shortly before he offers the advice of, "move out of the sticks." I should listen to Harvey Keitel more.
Still, old Carl would have me look at my insecurity, self-loathing and juggernaut inferiority complex and say to them, "you are part of me and I don't have to like you, but I need to like me." Which is probably healthy, but I don't know; I'm not a doctor. Or even a post-graduate. Or graduate. Or... anyway, in an attempt to overcome some of my more malodorous aspects, I've been looking over, little by little, Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project blog. I noticed one of its cornerstones is a list of 12 commandments to guide her through this process of achieving a real, meaningful and lasting joy. You should check her out, because she's pretty sharp, but also rather pretty. Everyone loves redheads. I am not a redhead. I can give you an idea of her precepts as being things along the lines of being comfortable with herself and embracing love and proactivity. Hunt down her blog and check the list out for yourself. It's a good list, and we all love the hell out of lists.
Looking at Ms. Rubin's roll call of self-improvement, I thought I'd give my own a shot. This is largely precipitated by my yelling at my fiance earlier when she was, and I'm choosing my word carefully here, encouraging me to try harder in seeking employment. Now, I'm not going to say I was wrong in how I felt, but I communicated this poorly, much like yelling at someone for jumping your car with their own cables: I'm just pissed I can't help myself.
So, here goes:
- Being Brandon. Rubin's is "Be Gretchen," and I like the reproducibility. When I was in high school, I was often told I didn't seem like a Brandon. While I could never get an answer as to what I did seem, I would also hear a lot of, "you would, Sichling." This is the sort of thing that's great for your self-image. So, I think from here on out, I'm going to stop letting others define me and work at my process of distinction, hence the gerund.
- Remember: that person is not necessarily an asshole. Even if there is a good chance. In the past couple of years especially, I've chalked a lot up to this, and it hasn't done me a lot of good. A few people who I've written off have become very dear friends. One or two I've initially embraced have turned out to be, well, take a wild guess.
- Remember when Jesus got good and pissed. My all-time #1 hero, sorry, Christ, is Batman and has been since I was very little. Reflecting on this recently, I realized part of the character's attraction for me is the unquenchable blaze of his rage. I like that righteous anger. Too bad mine is like a blind kid with a bolo, tripping up others and himself. I need to be more willing to womp evil and less ready to smack Robin.
- Silence is not judgment. It is not my responsibility to entertain everyone with something to say, and just because I'm not doing it doesn't mean everyone else thinks I'm too lame to come up with a witty remark. Like this here description, there was nothing witty in it and that's okay.
- I don't have to be polite, just fair. I'm taking this one from Rubin, but she asks both of herself. I've been plenty polite to people who were willing to treat myself and others like crap. Now, maybe they're just having a bad day, and I can understand that, but it's not my job to suffer for it any more than it's other people's job to suffer mine. Likewise, if I'm having a good day, I will not use that as an excuse to make someone else's day better. Have your own good day.
- Don't take life seriously. Oscar Wilde said, "life is far too important a thing to ever talk about seriously." My junior high shop teacher asked if I ever took anything seriously. I didn't use to, and God willing I can be that frivolous with vitals again.
- I don't have to be prefect I don't have to be a person appointed to any of various positions of command, authority, or superintendence, as a chief magistrate in ancient Rome or the chief administrative official of a department of France or Italy. Nobody's prefect.
- Blame myself once, move on. Another piece of disturbingly sagacious advice from Homer Simpson. He once told Marge to not keep blaming herself, once was enough. Feeling guilty about stuff done to ex-girlfriends is not nearly as fruitful as feeling guilty about stuff doing to current girlfriend. I also get a jolt of contrition when I see commercials for NBC's new show Trauma. If you want to know why, you can ask.
- It's okay. I am not as well-read as Neil Gaiman, I am older than Bradbury when he was first published, I am not as well-toned as Random Guy at Gym, I am not as asked after as my brother, I have not gotten any merit scholarships and I have not been invited on Charlie Rose's show. And it's okay. Not that there's any reason why it's okay, but it'll just have to be.
- I am not above flipping burgers; flipping burgers is beneath me. I can do the work, and I may need to yet, but I am too good for it in the long run and I will get better jobs. Maybe, someday, I can be a shoeshine boy. Which is to say, I want to steal scores of left shoes.
- People's opinions are important, as long as I care. I need to remember that a person's opinion of me should only matter as long as I have a high opinion of that person. I have a habit of holding my fiance's parent's thoughts on a similar level with those of some beggar. I need to prioritize a little better, because the homeless are excellent judges of character.
- Pray about it.
I just wanted to share this with my vast readership, and I thank you both from the bottom of my heart. It means a lot to me when you read these posts, and feedback is always requested. If you write your own list, I'll read it. We're all in this together. Now excuse me while I aggrandize myself with breakfast cereal and the edifying, soothing words of Harvey Keitel: "You're gonna be okay. You're gonna be okay. Say the goddamn words! You're gonna be okay!"