Monday, January 25, 2010

The big mistake

Here's the deal: I was following someone's thread on Facebook and it lead me to a page called "Bad Brains:The Movie." It is a documentary of the band from 1979 to the present. I watched the clip, saw Henry Rollins (does the guy make a living being in rock documentaries?), thought "hey, no one called me", and then felt foolish. Of course no one called me. I'm a nobody! But, in 1979, the Bad Brains were a huge part of my life. My band, the Mad, and the Bad Brains did double bills nearly every week, or if not them it was the Misfits. We were often double-billed with one of these bands, and they were what I considered friends at the time. It was long ago, no doubt, but both bands have gone on to become legends, even if one of them is more a legend of the perfect band logo than anything else. I often wonder how many guys with Misfits t-shirts or tattoos have even listened to them.

When I look back on my life, I think what I did once upon a time really screwed me up good. I bet you think I'm talking about the drugs or the bad company. I'm not. I'm talking about the idea that trying to live "a normal life" was preferable to not doing so. Biggest mistake I've ever made. Incredibly stupid. I bought into so many myths that's impossible to count them all on two hands.

One day I'm on the road, living a life most people would kill for, touring with a successful band, making money making noise and acting badly, and I'm thinking "this is bad for me." What kind of idiot thinks that? I wanted "a normal life." I wanted "someone to love me for who I really am." I wanted to have kids and "raise them right."

None of that happened. All of it hinged on mistaken ideas about life. Some of it hinged on the fact that I've always been sick. Someone once wrote a song about me when I was 18 or 19 years old called "Dead Cupcake."

The truth is, if I had continued in that life I once had, I would probably have been much better off. I had no clue. I could have continued to be dysfunctional, sick, or totally nonfunctional. Look at all the "sick" celebrities! Oh well, better luck next time.

Photo note: Back in them days, I used to hide my knitting in the closet! Did I post this pic already?


jmcleod76 said...

Ha! "Normal" people pine for a life of fame and adventure, and you longed to be "normal." I used to long to be something "special." I spent a long time with my therapist on that issue, which I didn't see as an issue at the time. Now, I don't much care about that - though not because my therapist "cured" me of it. Rather, I've gone to the other extreme. I want to be completely anonymous. I want to fade into the wallpaper and be allowed to read and meditate and think without having to respond to demands from "outside" to go to work or make small talk. Gradually, though, I'm learning to be happy where I am. It's like "they" say - or did Jon Kabat-Zinn say it first? - "wherever you go, there you are." Or, as I recently read in a Stephen King book, attributed to an AA saying, "if you put an asshole on a plane in San Francisco and flew him to the east coast, the same asshole got off in Boston." Not that you're an asshole ...

Julie H. Rose said...

I doubt Jon Kabat-Zinn said it first, but he might have.

I'm flailing about, throwing stuff out there. I really don't wish to have continued living the life I did once upon a time. I wanted to be able to live an anonymous life and do so with equanimity. That's a perfectly reasonable thing to desire. Some days it feels like it was the stupidest thing in the world. Both are true and neither are true.

jmcleod76 said...

Both are true and not true. Yes, yes.

I think it's just human nature to long for the grass on the other side, even when we've already tasted that grass and didn't care for it at the time. Somebody once codified that as his "first truth."

Then again, I don't think dissatisfaction is always such a bad thing.

Julie H. Rose said...

The problem I encounter is discerning the difference between a real need for changing a situation and being able be find satisfaction within any situation. The latter is a great tool, but it also can be a trap of sorts - I have said I could be happy in prison, and I could be. I can have equanimity in the midst of nearly anything. For years I struggled against thinking of the "location fix", when in fact living in the country has not been healthy for me. I need more community, and I haven't the energy to drive even a half an hour to get it at times. But, then I feel joy, and say "I'm fine." I am fine and not fine. I stay stuck. This can't be solved by philosophy. It's a character flaw of mine, not being able to discern the difference. I hate to recite what's come to be thought of as the AA code, when it was written by someone else, but I've not learned ". . .the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Nope, not yet.

jmcleod76 said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. That's what I meant by "dissatisfaction isn't always such a bad thing." No progress has ever been made without dissatisfaction. The question is always, "am I just spinning my wheels, here, changing for the sake of change, or actually making steps toward a wholer, healthier life?" I truly believe that, deep down, all of us have the innate ability to know the difference. The problem is, sometimes we don't have the courage, or the strength, to act on that knowledge. Or, we fool ourselves, muddy the waters by pointing to our feelings of uncertainty, which never really go away. I think that's why so many stories of true transformation, whether religious conversions, stories of recovery from addiction, or otherwise (including addition to bad relationships), involve the teller's experience of hitting "rock bottom." When there's nowhere else to go, our feelings of "not knowing" lose the power to cripple us.

Whether we're running away when we should stay put, or stagnating when we should be opening to change and growth, it's the same story.

Julie H. Rose said...

And again, I believe I'm doing both, trying to run from pain & staying put when I probably shouldn't be.

Every time I think I've hit that proverbial rock bottom, it isn't quite deep enough. I'm so very tired, seriously.

I saw my GP this morning 'cause she wanted me to get some tests done that I thought were unnecessary. She also said she thought I didn't realize just how serious my depression appears in her eyes. She was on the verge of tears. I saw on the screen that it said my "affect was flat." Again, my practice mixes with my pathology which makes me concerned. Where does equanimity end and "flat affect" begin? They can look and feel the same.

These questions deserve some serious inquiry, to say the least.

jmcleod76 said...

And it sounds like you're doing that inquiry.

I can't say for sure, because I'm not you, but perhaps you doctor is mistaking exhaustion for depression? It's hard to muster emotion for much of anything when one's body is in revolt.

By the by, have you ever read this article? it was all over the Buddhist blogs when it was published earlier this year. It paints a pretty interesting picture of the dance between practice and pathology that you mentioned above.

Julie H. Rose said...

Thanks for the link to that article. Some of it resonated deeply w/ me. I've had a tug of war about my zen practice for a long time. I have thought, at times, it is a form of masochism. Living in at ZMM woke me up to the bdsm quality of a certain kind of zen life, but at that time I was quite glad of it. Later, I found yoga and yogic meditation to be more compassionate, but I'm deeply attracted to Zen. Yet, I struggled with the core feeling that it isn't actually good for me. Invisibility! No-self! I felt invisible in my childhood and youth - killing the self is child's play for one who learned to master the art of being no one very young in order to survive. No wonder I once wanted to make a lot of noise. I know that part of me is still there, the part that wants to scream at the top of her lungs, not sit quietly and to hell w/ realization! Yeah, that article spoke some of truths. Thanks again.

You have a lot of wisdom, Jaime. I was going to write I've been stupid most of my life, but it's not true. Layers peel away, more is revealed, and a part of me has regressed, maybe because I did grow up too fast and need to return to a place of vulnerability and get those needs met, at long last. Life is an incredible journey. I don't completely reject the pain of it. It's more fodder, at least.