Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Forced Perspectives and Squeaky Shoes and Han Solo's Revenge

Today marks the end of a weeklong binge-slump. I've been down in the dumps, taking a fake-it-till-you-make-it approach, only to realize just how prodigiously stupid that is. It's only been for a short while, but with mood comes a noticeable dip in attention-span, sociability, good-will, even 'luck' and 'intelligence'... Those are some damned hard things to try and fake [You can fake breasts but you can't fake good times (...waaaaaaait a second there...)]. Let's go a bit deeper.

Ever notice how a bad mood affects harmony with your environment? Yesterday, sitting with Isabel in front of a rolling DVD Lost-athon, I fired up a stove element to heat some water. A few minutes in, Isabel and I heard a crackling, she asked me what that was, and I replied 'roiling water for my noodles'... however, something bugged me about the sound: water doesn't crackle, so I checked the kitchenette to find the answer: the dishrack was on fire. I'd lit the wrong element. Plastic smoke billowed everywhere, causing the aromatic reminiscence of when I'd amputated Han Solo's blaster arm with a magnifying glass, and replaced it with his head. So, I did the obvious panic response and hit the dishrack with a wet cloth. Eventually it went out. Soot was everywhere, my finger was burnt and I felt like an idiot. This seemed to me to be the penultimate event of a series of unfortunate incidents. But did fortune really have anything to do with it? I am a strong believer in ultimate personal responsibility, even to a degree of psychic/physical coincidence, and so lumping it on bad-luck is also bad faith. Let's go even deeper.

Faith. Trust. Confidence. prefix, com-, "together, together with, in combination," + fidere "to trust" So, loosely speaking, confidence means to go-with, or be-with, faith. This implies a certain psychic predispostion at the very least: I'd even wager that, functionally, the root of all confidence is faith in oneself. Now, considering (consider, literally = "to observe the stars") my actions were revealing my inability to be sure of what I was doing, it left me with a few horrible options... 1) either I was mistakenly confident or, more likely as this was closely attuned to my mood (ie. emotional feedback loop) 2) my confidence was diminished. So I resolve today to restore my confidence.

How to reinstate confidence? Basing this etymologically, my fake-it approach is flat-out lying = how can you fake faith? Basing this emotionally, how do you break a recurring excitation of foul thoughts? Each is, arguing simply, the expression/fuel of the other. The answer lies in the emotional realm, but needs the rational mind as trigger...
1) Recognize the mood, and embrace it. You can't help what you're feeling, last thing you need is to feel bad about that as well (there's such a social precedence on displaying good mood, it's hard not to malign yourself further for not meeting it)
2) Use the mood to achieve what you DO want: effect guided change for the better. Allowing the bad mood to be an emotional loop that reinforces itself (as in, a whole bunch of neuroreceptors that have been, through use, primed to fire more quickly/easily... etc.), it follows that thinking and visualizing good things will steer towards a happier emotional plane. It is important to do this mindfully: sheer aversion to bad things won't do. That's avoidance or distraction and how commercials getcha to buy stuff. Effectively, going towards what you want will act to avoid the bad anyways.
3) Remember that there is no arrival: you don't BE good, you practice it. After you have a goal of worth, be it based in virtue or skill, you have to practice the person you want to be. This is tricky: when viewing another, it is tempting to see them as a finished product. It is easy to criticize and analyze them, your brain has every capacity to do so. However, the brain cannot do this to itself, even though it tries. I won't go into this, but just suggest that it leads to a form of self-negation. Even a positive take on itself is arrogance, a form of assumption.
4) Do not do this directly for others. This is the toughest of all, as people will ALWAYS tell you who you are, give you the reflection you need to know, but to accomplish something for the sheer positive feedback is to act without confidence. I am guilty of this problem. I have a fatuous existential phrase for this: you are what you do, but are judged on how you do it. By all means, accept praise, but don't provoke it.

Wow. Do I ever feel better!
ps. I've no idea how many people read this, but there've been a few short-lived posts that I've hastily removed as it breaks the conditions I set myself as a blogger. I'm sure there'll be more that come and go, but they're either too personal or opinionated to exist for any extended period of time. Look for them though, they're usually the most inflammatory/defamatory.


Isabel Brinck said...

this sounds great! glad I was there to witness most of it, including the funny fire. I wanted to get rid of that dishrack anyway!

Mood Indigo said...