Pride

My pride doesn’t like it when the new guy does well–the guy who replaced me in a position I admittedly came to despise.

Why is that?

Oscar Wilde once said that there are many things we would willingly cast side, if only we didn’t think someone would come behind us and pick them up.

I can feel my pride, the swelling ache in my chest, when the new guy closes a deal I know I would have struggled with. I ache all the more when he does it with a smile, with ease, like it’s fun.

—-It never was fun for me.

What is it in me that wants to win all the games I play because I’ve played them, and not just the ones I care about?

There’s a part of me that wants to both besmirch the work I did, and also be better than the guy that comes after. My ego needs me to win even if I feel I’m above it all.

If I listen to my ego, enlarge that swelling ache in my chest, and record its version of history, I may still be able to seek my happiness elsewhere, but it feels wrong to hide from the cold waters of humility.

I need to be real, with myself above all else, to know what my intuition is trying to tell me.

I need my weakness present with me, in order to remember the weaknesses of others.

I need my pain, in order to have compassion with the pain of others.

 

—So I laughed, and told him, “That was crazy! You really pulled it off!” and asked him how he did it, and laughed some more, and wished it wasn’t so painful for me to be gracious and true to others.

INFJs Are Adjectives Looking for Nouns

As an INFJ I feel like an adjective looking for a noun.

Know what I mean?

For all my pining to have time to myself to recharge, I actually get pretty depressed when I’m by myself. This is part of the complexity of the type itself, being introverted but also needing to spend time with people to stay sane.

When I finally have space to myself, I process all of my feelings and impressions from the day like a big garbage disposal. But at a certain point, I guess I run out of things to process, because I feel noticeably “down,” but the garbage disposal inside my mind is still churning along, looking for connections, meanings, patterns, ways of solving problems that don’t exist yet.

At no point do I feel like I should stop–I could sit on my IKEA Kivik, in my pajamas, cross legged, phone in my hand, staring through the carpet fibers for way longer than I should, instead of eating, or sleeping, or “doing” much of anything that could pull me out of the spiral.

As uncomfortable as it makes me, I find I’m most myself when I’m doing something, or when I’m with someone, or when I’m solving some problem at work. It’s like my personality and mental energy finally has something to “digest” or “reflect” or “riff” off of.

I’m like some crack addict looking for a high. It’s just that I get high off of some pretty weird stuff compared to most people. Like Alan Watts lectures on YouTube. Or Terrence McKenna. Or whatever I happen to be in to intellectually.

And it’s not even the intellectual content that I crave, but the emotional, intuitive “sense” of the world that I get by learning new things. It’s like transmitting a painting through words, but the painting is the universe itself. Nevermind the individual word-colors and concept-brushstrokes. It’s the sense of INFJ World Building that I’ve read about from Lauren Sapala’s book The INFJ Writer.

That’s part of what makes the creative effort so difficult. I feel like a fiction writer in temperament that’s full of philosophy and non-fiction instead of other fiction. I’m not so interested in the nitty-gritty of the philosophies themselves as much as conveying to other people the sense of wonder and mystery and meaning that they give to me.

Learning I’m An INFJ Made My Life Worse

When I found out I was an INFJ / INFP (I came out borderline on the P and J parts, but strongly on the INF sides), it was like being in a dark closet all alone, then turning around and seeing that you’re actually in the middle of an enormous mead hall full of like-minded people.

The descriptions of alienation, of feeling different from everybody else, of having incredibly low energy reserves for any kind of activity or interaction, but especially the since of a crushing burden of high destiny–but without any idea of what do do or how to accomplish it–granted me a feeling of membership in a secret organization I never new existed.

The more I searched out INFJ and INFP articles, the less lonely and more validated I felt.

So I crushed it! I read constantly. Everything I could find. Spent hours some days googling and link-hopping my way to greater self knowledge and self awareness–two of my favorite things!

Anyway, I couldn’t read all this stuff and not start acting different.

Yes, the more I read about what my personality type was like, the more difficult it was to do things that were expressly described as being “not my type.” I work in sales. I’m around people constantly. I was in finance at the time–so much bureaucratic drudgery! I felt like all my discomfort I had been suffering through for 6 years was completely justified because it was clearly not the right fit for me.

So I became less patient. I became more withdrawn. I became moody and less able to handle tedious paperwork. I resented the long working hours and the time I was kept from my own self-care, my family, and my creative endeavors.

After a short amount of time, it began to feel intolerable to do my day-to-day work, whereas before, it had only been uninspiring.

This was a big shift.

A few months after all this began to unravel, I was suddenly demoted from my position of 2 years, with a corresponding life-altering pay cut. That was a few weeks ago.

Which brings me to where I am.

My feelings about understanding my Personality type are extremely ambivalent now–

On the one hand, they gave me a sense of validation and belonging which I had never had.

On the other hand, they took violent hold of my moody psychology and presented a justification for my own unhappiness, which made it difficult to continue along my status quo.

Now, I can’t help but feel like I’ve put myself and my family in a precarious position because of my emotions stirred up by realizing I’m an INFJ.

Yet, there is still a sense of hope, like I was painfully shedding some part of myself that just didn’t fit for me. I’ve traded worrying about my health, my legacy, and my sacrificed creative endeavors to now worrying about money, and security, and finding work that can provide that while also being more aligned with my idea of myself.

Happiness Through Content Creation

Here’s my experiment:

Rather than soul-searching, pondering, planning, hypothesizing, philosophizing—-

—I wonder if the trigger for finding fulfillment as an INFJ/INFP is through the production of creative work itself.

The test of this is simple: create content, nevermind the inner critic, and see what comes.

This isn’t about creating traffic, or income, or anything concrete like that. This is purely about my own joy and fulfillment, and seeing what it is out there that moves me.

My theory (Highly Sensitive Introvert here, I have one about everything!) is that my default mode of action, which requires immense forethought, and research, and inner-compass-calibrating, and emotional fluctuation, before feeling ready to choose a course of action–is self-frustrating even to an INFJ/INFP.

All the indicators point towards my Myers-Briggs type being especially creative and happiest as artists, writers, and so forth. But though I’ve always had story ideas, one of which I’ve been working on since I was in middle school, I’ve never been able to push through and create anything that would be worth sharing. I would never stop changing, altering, editing my work as I went, and since this act wasn’t fun for me, I finally stopped writing altogether about 2 years ago.

So what I’m interested in is not whether my writing improves, or I get creative ideas by being forced to create content, and so forth–that’s what I was doing with this site 2 years ago.

This time, my theory is that the act of creating and publishing, by itself–even bad content–will be an intrinsically enjoyable thing for me, and that the pursuit of the happiness that comes from publishing and creating will be the stimulation that makes the whole grind worthwhile.

I’ll stick to it as long as I feel like I’m getting something out of it.

2 Years Later

It feels strange being here again.

My blog posts have my name on it–but I swear I barely remember who wrote them.

I’m here to rebuild myself and try to make sense of what being “happy” and “fulfilled” means to me.

I’ve shed quite a few labels in the interim–and picked up quite a few more.

INFJ

Highly Sensitive Person

Empath

But this is me trying to understand the me that doesn’t much care for any of the labels. A part of me that I feel like I’ve lost touch with, but a part I will need if I am going to put my life together–not again–but in many ways for the first time.

If you stumble upon this pile of mental debris, I hope that it is of some help to you. If my feelings remind you of yourself, I hope that it is a small comfort to just know that you’re not alone in your struggles.

 

Why Can’t We Build Heirloom Cars Again?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

Why can’t we have heirloom quality cars?

Cars with the same qualities as a Ghurka bag or Le Creuset cookware–things that are invested in specifically because they will last you a lifetime?

I know the reasons already. Cars are built much like motorcycle helmets are–all that engineering and technology is built into an advanced safety “egg” that’s a one-and-done proposition. Humpty Dumpty is usually totaled if your airbags go off now. I can’t find the link at the moment, but somewhere I read just how much more cars are declared a total loss now than they were even 10 or 20 years ago (a technological epoch in the automotive world).

If classic cars had airbags, sure they would have been safer. We also would probably have far fewer pre 70s era cars in existence as well.

I value human life more than a car (that’s not superfluous. That makes me different from other car people). It is amazing how much more safe, efficient, and powerfully cars have simultaneously become.

That has also made them more complicated. And more expensive to work on. Meaning–it’s less likely that we will be able to keep cars as long as we used to. If your electronics go out in a 10 year old car with adaptive cruise, adjustable suspension, and park assist–well, it will probably cost more to fix than it is worth.

The only cars that will survive this critical service point will be those with emotional or sentimental value. Most likely, they will be sports cars of some kind.

Yet, there are influences at work which seem to me to be exploiting this natural progression, to shoehorn people into buying more cars more often.

Continue reading “Why Can’t We Build Heirloom Cars Again?”

I Like To Eat In The Company of Books

Alchemy--and hash browns.
Alchemy–and hash browns.

I like to have books on me at all times. Especially on my days off.

I make sure to take my book bag with me in the car–with two or three books and a journal inside, and sometimes a laptop as well.

When I eat lunch or get coffee, I bring at least one book in with me.

Often, I never read it.

We just look at each other. Exchange glances.

I feel more at ease with books nearby.

I have to think, I’m not the only one.

Transhumanism Part I: What Is It, and Is It A Good Thing From a Religious Perspective?

Transhumanism (sometimes called “Humanity+” or “h+”) is an international intellectual and cultural movement aimed at transcending human physical and intellectual limitations using technology. Officially it was first conceived in the early part of the 20th century, but its goals–aimed at increasing human lifespans, improving quality of life, and advancing our efficacy and efficiency–have been intrinsic to our humanity for longer than recorded history.

Already, advances in prosthetics, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering have begun to actualize these goals using science (as opposed to magic or other means).

Transhumanism represents an enormous interdisciplinary and diverse intellectual nexus, which cannot be easily summarized or singularly described.

There has been ample criticism from the religious community, some calling it a new form of Manichaeism–or neo Gnosticism–saying it begrudges physical matter, seeing it as a weakness rather than inherently valuable, and consider it an ethical good to work to transform our bodies into comparatively godlike forms with enormous power.

I’m curious what, if any, goods we could identify in the transhuman agenda from a religious perspective.

Continue reading “Transhumanism Part I: What Is It, and Is It A Good Thing From a Religious Perspective?”

Faith Among Works

The winds thrashed

The restless waters

With poisonous rage.

I am like the winds
Venting my want on others
To help my mood.

Hoping they will hear my call

For love and compassion,
Hoping they will separate my wrath
From my true heart which hides behind.

Solar flame–oh that my works
Would be emblazoned such,
Eternal and beloved–
This perhaps would be a sign of my worth,
Unreadable from my lowly position
Among the worms.

The war of worlds for kingdoms and gold
A shrill echo against a sure death.
We die for want of more life.

Let us drink instead the cup beside us–
Our neighbor our spouse our child
Who, in sharing themselves, give us life always.

Ease their burdens now (always now)
And regret shall not have visitation
With you
On your bed of worn out things

Hafiz: The First Poem in the “Journey of Love”

Hafiz is a mostly unknown poetic treasure to me. But he is a favorite of my wife, and she sends me pertinent poems seemingly at just the right time.

Hafiz is considered the greatest and most endearing of the Persian poets, and his candid reflections on life and love remain powerfully relevant.

And Applaud

Once a young man came to me and said,

“Dear Master,

I am feeling strong and brave today, And I would like to know the truth

About all of my-attachments.”

And I replied,

“Attachments?

Attachments!

Sweet Heart,

Do you really want me to speak to you

About all your attachments,

When I can see so clearly

You have built, with so much care,

Such a great brothel

To house all of your pleasures.

Continue reading “Hafiz: The First Poem in the “Journey of Love””