I’m going by “Momo” more these days, especially on Twitch and Discord. And you know what? It suits me.
“Momo” means “peach” in Japanese, and I grew up with an obsession with Princess Peach from the Super Mario series. It all balances it out and works together.
We had an okay Christmas. What’s hanging in the air this year is our imminent move to Virginia, and the pandemic has kind of kept us from going to see friends and family in the way that I would like. When you’ve got a big life event coming up, it kind of dwarfs everything by comparison.
2020 had some great things in it- Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out, our kid spent most of the year with us (his mother is a nurse, so it was safer for him to live with us), my husband and I discovered a world on Twitch.tv that was entirely unknown to us (specifically the Ben Monster crowd), and I severely reduced my time on social media.
I rediscovered my Christian faith, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it lasts. I think there are a lot of stabilizing influences that exist in Christianity that I was missing in Buddhism, but that doesn’t mean I’m out to disparage Buddhism (or Paganism or any other tradition) because there are aspects of these traditions bound up in Gnosticism, which has been rather accurately described as “Catholic on the outside, Buddhist on the inside,” and I strongly concur that I might have more in common with the perspectives of many Buddhists and Pagans than with mainstream Catholics or Episcopalians.
That whole process was quite strange- for nearly two years, I identified myself as Buddhist, and squarely so, and then…well. Suddenly the Christian iconography seized me, and I ended up getting a copy of Christian Prayer to pray the Divine Office (or an abbreviated version of it anyway) and a Bible like the one my husband purchased around the time we first met.
One thing I’ve learned about the human mind: whether we consciously decide something exists or doesn’t exist is beside the point. Our subconscious/unconscious minds respond to religious imagery.
We might well be able to describe something like depression or anxiety in terms of the emotional states and even scan brains to see what’s happening, but the unconscious mind doesn’t speak that language. However, describe depression and anxiety as “devils” of sorts, and then the Unconscious stands to attention and has a sense of what to do.
I’m both excited and nervous about the move. I wonder if we’ll find a good place to live. I wonder what life will be like in Virginia! What new places will we see? What new friends will we meet? It’s really the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I’ve had this happen several times. The Hurricane experience was…well. That was a rather forcible change, a new chapter I didn’t like.
But the possibility of the Virginia move had hovered over us for a while, and I kind of knew it was coming. So, off we go! In about three weeks, we’ll be on the road to that new chapter.
All my posts can’t continue to be about social media…or can they?
I suppose in many regards, blogging, as a means of social media and communication, is all but dead.
Earlier this year, my husband started streaming on Twitch and stumbled onto various interesting channels.
One of those channels is BenmonsterTV. There are more, but BenmonsterTV seems to be where we’ve gravitated.
Twitch works well, I think, for what I’ve personally needed in the realm of social media- there’s a dedicated time for socializing, as it were, and it isn’t something that’s constantly in your face in a feed controlled by an unknown algorithm.
If we’re watching BenmonsterTV, we’re watching it live. (Well, most of the time; I think my husband dug up some YouTube videos or something.)
And it’s helped me break away from Facebook.
Speaking of which, I’ve unfollowed almost everyone on Facebook. My feed constantly receives an error message. It’s pretty hilarious.
I tried several different alternative social media websites; none of them worked for me. The promising ones had no one on them or were incredibly buggy and unstable.
I’m a mostly introverted kind of guy; back in The Before, going to church once a week and saying hello to everyone was pretty much all the socializing I needed. Being around people for hours and hours at a time drains me.
That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my time with friends and family; on the contrary, I do, but I also know my limits.
Twitch is cool in this regard because I can kind of relax and check out if I need to. I’m not passively fed people’s nonsense like on Facebook.
I do still encounter moments of existential loneliness, but I think that has more to do with a disconnect from my Unconscious Mind than it does to do with any kind of real sense of being alone because I have the opposite moments- moments of experiencing this amazing connection to the Collective Mind, like a stream pouring through me. It’s really something.
I haven’t written anything here in months, but perhaps I should have.
I just deleted my Twitter account for the second time this year. I have no desire to return, and maybe my actions caused that this time.
Earlier this year, I deleted it because of some drama going on with members of the Lincoln Project. Now, I’ve deleted it because, well…I spoke out again about something, and I had a mini-dogpile happen.
What’s very curious in this case is that I deliberately took screenshots and posted instead of reposting the person, yet…somehow she found and responded anyway. I shouldn’t have mentioned her by name.
I guess she’s the type that obsessively searches her own name or something; as far as I can see, Twitter doesn’t give automatic notifications if you don’t tag someone with the @ symbol prior to their name.
This reminiscent to what happened with the rabbi before…so yeah. I’m familiar with it.
We need a new social media outlet. Facebook is horrible. Twitter is a downright hellsite. I think I’m completely done this go around.
I need to put my energy and time into creativity- research, writing, doing art, exercising, improving myself. Helping my husband with his Twitch stream has been fun; I enjoy the “behind the scenes” aspect.
There are people I’ll miss on Twitter; there are sometimes good discussions, and this go-around, I was FAR more selective in whom I followed and the conversations I read. My mind was broadened significantly, though I still found myself at odds with what some people were saying.
More importantly, one can use Twitter and generally read conversations without having an account- I did this, in fact, for months prior to making a new account. One need not have an account to find the meaningful content.
Social media is a tool, but the tool has to have some kind of safety protocol to keep it from getting out of hand and spreading falsehoods.
One day, I’ll leave Facebook as well. Instagram is pretty tame so far; I go for the photography.
Going back on Twitter has had its rewards. The same with Facebook and Instagram.
The question is, what’s the cost?
Here’s the dilemma: some of the best work I’ve seen discussion the current social and political climate has come via articles posted on Twitter accounts. Consider my mind expanded: reading articles and threads by people with whom I don’t agree has allowed me, in some capacity, to expand my own mind.
The trouble is, I have to wade through an immense amount of vapid posting and dodge puff pieces to even remotely find those articles.
For a while, when I needed articles, I would read the Associated Press. And I would post to my Facebook account almost exclusively from AP because they’re about as unbiased and fact-based in journalism as one can get.
However…and this is where things get subtle…other kinds of analysis I need, other kinds of commentary and perspectives, don’t merely arise from reporting data.
What I mean to convey here is that one might report a series of facts without then putting together those facts and figuring out what not-immediately-apparent facts to which they may be referring. One must reason, you see; a much larger fact may be looming over something.
If I state to you, for instance, that there is a man lying on the floor, blood on the floor, and a knife on the floor, that could very well indicate there has been an act of violence or even murder (depending on whether or not the man is still alive).
These things could also be incidental; the blood may be from a cut of meat, the man may be cleaning the floor or looking for the knife, and the knife may have fallen off a table or counter.
The point here is this: interpretation and analysis are part of what we do as humans, and there are some really intelligent people offering some incisive (and fair) commentary at present.
But a further point is this: just the current circumstances are so complex that it’s difficult to get a grasp of them even with contemporary information. One might hypothetically need to study for years in a formal setting to be able to even begin to see with the amount of clarity necessary what’s happening around us.
It’s hard to know the best thing to do. I do dream of someone putting together a genuinely actionable list for the average Democratic voter.
Speaking of which, I think an awful lot of the anger that people have toward Biden and the Democrats is fueled by a misunderstanding of how politics work. People (including myself) don’t know how to be involved outside of voting and donating. Those are both important, but there’s got to be more.
There’s got to be some way we can promote the values that are consistently American (involved liberal democracy and civics education).
I’ve been listening to The Lincoln Project’s podcast recently. While I’m glad they’re awake to the danger the nation is in, I still question a number of them who seem to have been totally oblivious to what was going on in the GOP.
It’s also incredibly bizarre to listen to them talk about needing a strong social safety net, and I’m just so confused…where have they been? How have they not been paying attention?
Anyway, I’m not naive enough to think that electing Joe Biden as POTUS solves all our problems, but damn, it’s going to solve some of them.
My confession: I went back to Twitter, at least for a little while.
If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be on Twitter, I don’t think; I probably wouldn’t have returned to Facebook and stayed. I have deep sense of needing to delete Facebook and Twitter.
This wasn’t a mistake, just an action I took to follow some of the accounts I found interesting and engaging.
I made a bold move to follow people with whom I disagree about things.
The underlying theme, though, is despite our disagreements, nobody’s dehumanizing others.
Before I re-booted my blog, I spoke sometimes about the “Toxic Wokeness Dogpile” and the growing illiberal tendencies of certain people on the Left. To be sure, this same kind of stodginess exists and has existed on the Right; nobody’s exempt from, well, being an asshole.
People have this weird idea that because they belong to a particular ideology or demographic, they’re somehow exempt from critiques or that their ideas are inherently superior, rational, or unquestionable. That isn’t how it works.
As I understand it, “wokeness” is rooted in something called Critical Theory, and it’s ultimately an analysis of the power structures of society.
What I’ve found in people who are critiquing Critical Theory, however, is that often, they aren’t critiquing the excesses of Critical Theory where people treat it dogmatically or refuse to temper it to understand a particular set of circumstances that don’t neatly fit within it; the people critiquing Critical Theory seem to argue that it’s completely unfounded, that there are no power structures in society that support bigotry, and almost always end up saying something straight-up bigoted or very close to it.
That’s not where I am.
The danger in me pointing out that sometimes people take being “woke” to illogical extremes or begin framing things very poorly (all people belonging to [INSERT GROUP WITH POWER/MAJORITY] are [INSERT WORD THAT REFERS TO BIGOTS TOWARD THAT GROUP], etc.) is that one might think I’m siding with the generally most vocal opponents.
I am not.
On the contrary, what I’m arguing is that a paradigm such as Critical Theory is not a rigid religious dogma to be swallowed whole without reflection but a tool, a lens, if you will, through which we can analyze certain phenomena in society from a certain angle.
That there might be additional refinement necessary or complementary views that balance out the excesses of Critical Theory doesn’t seem to cross the minds of these so-called intellectual critics, but I suppose that’s my over-arching point.
Other points for consideration:
-At what point do excesses of a movement or worldview become necessarily representative of the whole movement?
-Do excesses point to a rotten core, or can something be refined?
-If someone is genuinely trying to criticize a particular philosophy, does that mean they feel threatened by that philosophy?
I saw someone mention this last point in response to something, but I can’t remember the exact context. They were attempting to insist that people who aren’t threatened by certain perspective merely dismiss them instead of engaging.
This is a rather simplistic line of reasoning: there are conspiracy theorists who have some wild and terrible ideas, and even though the ideas/arguments are easily debunked, the stupidity remains, and you should never underestimate stupid people in large numbers. Stupid people in large numbers are dangerous. See: all of human history.
In other news, I’ve broken free into a whole new world of exploration with psychic and witchy stuff, and one of my favorite things to do lately is put on Podcasts and listen while I play video games. This is a way to educate myself while simultaneously engaging in other activities. Sometimes I draw while doing this as well.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of “home.” What does it mean to have a home?
After our home was destroyed in Hurricane Michael, we lived out of hotels for a month. We were homeless even though we had a roof over our head. The situation was livable but not ideal.
My husband knew after we moved to our current apartment that our next move would almost certainly be to Virginia, and that’s exactly what will happen in January of 2021.
Our apartment here is nice. It isn’t the “luxury apartment” advertised by the complex; indeed, we can easily hear our upstairs neighbors merely walking back and forth in their apartment (and often stomping) along with their unnecessary domestic disputes, featuring tons of profanity and screaming.
It’s also obvious that the apartment had a weird and not terribly substantial “renovation” at some point.
But it’s still nicer than the trailer we lived in, yet…
I have to be honest; I’m just not as comfortable here, and I never have been.
What this apartment carries with it, unfortunately, is the reminder that we’re here because of Hurricane Michael. We’re here because of utter devastation.
No matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to make this apartment feel like home in the way that our trailer felt like home.
And yet. And yet. The most astounding thing is to realize upon our return trips to Panama City that we no longer lived there, that our home was no longer there, either.
Moving to Virgina will feel different because I’ve known that was the inevitable for some time. I have time to mentally prepare. I have time to make judgments about what the best course of action will be. We can look at places to live and explore options and not just scramble to find a place. I can work on blessing the place we’ll live, helping the sense of “home” to manifest, before we even get there. I can live my life with a sense of “DESTINY” in place. The things to be learned while still in Fort Walton Beach can be learned and experienced and integrated, and then I can bless this chapter of my life and move on.
I’ve done it before.
Sitting in my computer chair, the back of which the cat has clawed up, I look around the apartment to see the somewhat mismatched furniture and a basic lack of decor. We never really hit a point where I felt comfortable buying a lot of decorations for the apartment; we do have a nice painting, but the apartment doesn’t look like two gay men live here.
Our apartment has a pretty stupid layout as well, and I’m banking on our next apartment having a smarter design.
Don’t mistake my critiques for a lack of gratitude; I know we could’ve ended up in a way worse situation, and I know there are always trade-offs.
Our next apartment will have some kind of trade-off. (I can imagine living in Virginia will put us in a much colder situation, and I’m not happy about that.)
I told myself I wouldn’t get caught up in it and wouldn’t feel sad, but I kind of do. It’s a sense of hope crashing and burning.
This is surprising, not only because I rarely see any kind of fervor for Biden, but because Sanders took an early lead in several states with Biden coming in much further down.
Change for the better was always going to be an uphill battle, I think, but I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t see Biden essentially sweeping the states.
During this cycle, I’ve kept quieter about my political positions. I don’t fault people for supporting a particular candidate; everyone has projections, dreams, and emotional attachments to different people for a whole variety of reasons.
I do fault people for spewing and regurgitating the propaganda fed to us by people who have vested interests in maintaining their power at the expense of our misery.
That’s not a price I’m willing to pay. Sorry. Ain’t happenin’.
Moving on. Infantilizing of demographics that aren’t supported by the current power structure or who are actively marginalized or even oppressed is a great example of what I’m talking about. It’s easy to depict gay men as somehow “emotionally immature or stunted” compared to straight men when, uh, straight men hold pretty much all the power in society (relative to gay men) and dictate how things are to be perceived. (There are also elements of misogyny that are involved, but that’s for another entry).
Infantilizing younger voters is easier because, well, younger voters are younger.
I’m almost 35 years old. Still, I distinctly remember what it was like being in college and feeling like none of the parties and candidates represented me, that they were only interested in furthering themselves. So, I sympathize with the younger voters from this perspective. (Technically, everyone under 40 or 45 is in this category).
I don’t look to the future of myself at age 55 and think, “Oh, YEAH, baby, I’ll vote for some milquetoast candidate with a history of corruption and being behind the times, that’ll get things done.” Sorry. Just don’t buy it.
Is there a point of “cult of personality,” especially among younger voters, around Bernie Sanders? Sure, but the real question is to what degree that image of “cult of personality” is representative of the whole; most of us, I would daresay, have supported Sanders not because he behaves presidentially or because he acts like the common man or anything like that but because his policies offer actual remedies to an ailing social system that are directly affecting us, our friends and family, and the wider society.
Bernie wins big with younger voters. Okay, so, yes, his supporters skew on the younger side; it’s easy to dismiss them as being starry-eyed and daydreamers and all that, but if we’re going to depict Sanders supporters as immature youths who don’t understand how politics works, then let’s not leave behind the complementary narrative: Biden-supporters are, by and large, addled old folks who don’t understand how modern society works.
See how that works?
The truth is, both positions are incorrect because Bernie has older voters and Biden has younger voters.
But more importantly, the people who ultimately determine elections are Low Information Voters who hear one clip, have an entirely unfounded and profoundly emotional reaction to it, and vote for “the other guy.” That’s just reality.
Bernie made a couple of stumbles this year. He won’t be forgiven for them.
Biden has pretty much a lifetime of stumbles. Like, a lifetime of stumbles, and, well, uh, lies and bad policies.
Generally, I’m appalled that in 2020, the Democrats, as a party, a collection of voters, a committee, as whatever, didn’t learn anything at all from 2016.
And what I mean is that if this primary had come down to Sanders versus Booker, Sanders versus Harris, Sanders versus Warren, I would at least understand why the other candidate was preferable to different people. Cory Booker’s charismatic and a great speaker; Kamala Harris is witty and funny; Warren is intelligent and bold. (Warren was also my second choice, and Kamala Harris was a choice at one point).
But Bernie Sanders versus Joe Biden? Come on. That’s like someone offering you a sumptuous feast versus someone offering you some bland oatmeal that also turns out to be slightly poisoned.
While I don’t think the election cycle is rigged (or at least I didn’t in 2016), I can definitely see why people would feel that way, especially when the polls are so different than the outcome. I mean, there are some major discrepancies.
That brings us to the weirdest point. The polls show that most people agree with Bernie’s policies (like Medicare for All), but…I guess they want Bernie’s policies in a Biden package.
Now, we have to move on to the reality: I’m not a Bernie-or-bust guy. I’m pragmatic, and I live in a swing state. As much as I detest Joe Biden, I will vote for him- because in my estimation a Biden presidency will be superior to another Trump presidency.
Because when we elect a president, it isn’t just the presidency we’re affecting; we’re also affecting court picks. We’re also affecting various policies otherwise.
So the goal now is to push Biden as far to the left as possible and hope and pray he selects an incredibly progressive woman as his vice-president. And hope that he keeps his more Left-leaning promises.
The past couple of days, I’ve ventured onto Facebook more.
I’m definitely wishing I hadn’t.
The feedback loop is still pretty strong in me; I have the desire to keep scrolling, trying to find that next interesting post or topic, and I see the nastiness people have toward one another, the statuses people post that, underneath, are energetically asking people to start an argument with them.
Stepping away from social media for a few months was incredibly helpful in many ways; there’s a greater sense of clarity about what exactly happens online.
I want to take a different route and explain things from the perspective of “energy.” This is perhaps the wrong word, and we must always be aware that words have an inherent limitation to them, but this is our mode of communication.
Consider the universe as a whole, and consider that it’s ultimately an ocean of energy. All of us, all of our lives, are manifestations of that ocean and its flow.
But life happens as the ocean is split into rivers, streams, currents, you name it. And what we refer to as people’s cultures and identities might be likened to vortices or whirlpools, maybe waterfalls or streams.
There’s nothing inherently immoral or incorrect about being in a particular whirlpool of energy; however, some whirlpools have developed greater tendencies to harm people, to cause distress and disruption.
This happens when people support particular political candidates. The fervor with which people argue and demean others isn’t an entirely conscious and isn’t a terribly reasonable reaction much of the time; it’s often (but not always) a function of the energetic vortex into which they’re tapped.
Psychological projection is extreme these days when it comes to favored candidates.
I’ve tried to explain that people often vote for candidates based on their perception of who the candidate is and what the candidate stands for as opposed to the actual policies the candidate supports.
I worry for the psychological well-being of my generation and of people I’m friends with on Facebook.
Anyway, going back on social media was a mistake. I deleted Facebook from my phone, and I might do the same for Instagram and Youtube.
Recently, YIIK (pronounced like Y2K) went on sale on the Nintendo Switch shop, so I finally picked it up. I had looked forward to the debut of the game for a while but ended up not buying it for some reason when it initially released. Pretty sure I was playing other video games at the time.
I enjoyed the game so much that I wrote AcckStudios and told them, and I got an email in response in mere hours! Very cool people. They also included a survey about what things could be added and improved, so I think all the things you’re reading in this entry were mentioned.
This game has so many influences, the more obvious ones being Earthbound/Mother 2, the Persona series, and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
My review, in a nutshell: that YIIK is overall an amazing game with some serious need of polishing. Another way of putting it: the game feels like the world’s most romantic love-letter written directly to my soul, but then someone dropped it in mud, and now my love-letter is all stained.
But even with the stains, the love-letter of a game is personally meaningful. That YIIK was able to knock Earthbound out as my favorite video of all time says something.
Let’s move on.
The main issues in the game, the frustrating parts, were these three:
The battles had a unique set-up where you play mini-games to attack. Some aspects (like the Time Energy Meter) never seemed to be explained, or if they were, I missed them.
Playing mini-games every single time to attack, defend, and run became tedious, especially against enemies that had high HP.
Sometimes an enemy would attack, the attack would hit every person in my party, and that meant I had to play a mini-game four times in a row.
Possible solution: for a turned-based RPG, make the mini-games an optional power-booster but not required.
Better solution: YIIK has the makings for an action-RPG. I would’ve preferred to have Alex running around, throwing records in real-time, or have Vella smashing her Keytar over the enemies.
Okay, some of the dungeons made me so incredibly angry because the puzzles weren’t obvious; solving the dungeon became a matter of trial and error. There aren’t a lot of helpful guides online. I had to watch a video to figure out a part of one of the dungeons, but in retrospect, that player and myself were probably doing things out of order all because one other part to obtain a necessary item had a bizarre solution.
Possible solution: add more hints.
Better solution: clarify some of the puzzles and simplify others.
Leveling up takes places in the Mind Dungeon. The Mind Dungeon is a great idea (and has excellent music), but it moves so slowly. First, you have to set your attributes in doors, then you have to go in the doors, and then you obtain the items. The text boxes in particular seem to load slowly here, and I’m not sure why. There are some bizarre and intriguing cut-scenes that pop up on certain levels of the Mind Dungeon, but I don’t remember them overall tying into the story.
Possible solution: remove the Mind Dungeon and let leveling up be automatic.
Better solution: streamline the Mind Dungeon; make it more useful. Make it faster. Make it into a hub-world. Alex’s Mind Dungeon would be a perfect place to use for fast-travel to all the previously-visited locations.
We’ve finally ended the critique.
Everything else about the game- the characters, the tone, the atmosphere, the art direction, the music, and especially the story, become an obsession for me.
For instance, Michael is easily my favorite character (especially toward the end of the game), and Chondra is easily my favorite character design. Alex is, of course, a douchebag, but he gradually comes to realize that.
It’s also unsurprising because the main character is something of a hipster, so there are people who immediately see that and assume what the game is or isn’t, but Alex, as a character, is fairly well-designed, has a well-constructed personality (we know he’s pretentious and hipster-ish), and has a lot of character development (going from being kind of pretentious douche to valuing what matters, like friends and family).
Some people really read some awful things into this game that just aren’t there and could only be there if they traveled the Soul Space into another world where those things are there. (This a joke for the people who played the game).
If you aren’t a fan of surrealism, if you aren’t a fan of Carl Jung and depth psychology, if you aren’t interested in mysticism, the occult, the supernatural, and so on, you’re probably not going to enjoy this game as much.
I can see why so many people are put-off by the story; it isn’t for everyone. It just isn’t, and you can’t expect it to be. The creators even wrote to me that sometimes they think they made the game too niche, but then, that’s what I like about it- I’m that niche!
This isn’t the sort of game that just anyone will pick up, play, and enjoy. There are a few sub-plots that get resolved in milquetoast ways, some that don’t seem to get resolved at all, and…
…I think maybe more (not all) of that was intentional than people realize.
I think there also may be a tendency for us to assume that plots and subplots that don’t resolve in ways we feel are absolutely satisfying are necessarily done so because of weak writing or laziness, but that isn’t necessarily the case. However, in this case, I can’t be sure.
With YIIK, I think the story itself is meant to be surreal; it follows a sort of dream-like logic, one thing bleeding into another. Dreams are like that: things that make perfect sense in a dream won’t make any sense at all in waking life, and we scoff at it all.
My stance is that, for me, YIIK made sense from an archeypal perspective. The entire thing echoes the process of individuation.
Without spoiling it, if you pay attention, there are some points where the story specifically explains why things don’t make sense.
One thing the game left me wondering was how much the creators are into all these things; how much of the metaphysics of the backstory inform the creators’ own world views? The idea of multiple realities and simultaneously living multiple lives isn’t new, exactly, but they really drove the point home here.
The soundtrack is also excellent: instead of each battle having the exact same track, there were a number of different soundtracks (like in Earthbound!) that did bring fresh air to the game.
So, I can’t recommend this game for everyone, but then, I don’t think it was ever meant to be something for everyone. It’s its own weird archetypal, individuation journey.
And not everyone is ready for that.
This also strikes me as the sort of game that people will praise in the years to come; for a game named after Y2K, it’s way ahead of its time.
I’m hoping for YIIK: Deluxe Edition in the future.
My perspective as an offering to the reader: January is a weird month, possibly the weirdest.
At other times of the year, we have so much going on: we look forward to the autumn, especially in a place as hot as Florida, and then we have a barrage of holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and then…
(We’ve already decorated our apartment for Mardi Gras, but Mardi Gras hasn’t quite caught on in the same way as the other holidays.)
January, how shall I describe you? You’re as blank as paper, as flat as the plains; there’s a distinct atmosphere for “blah” in the air as people return to their normal way of doing things, as children return to school, as decorations come down.
“Life is what you make it” would be a great quote if we weren’t connected by the Collective Unconscious, if we we weren’t somehow interwoven with the fabric of reality and each other, if we weren’t, in essence, subject to the whims and flows of what happens on deeper levels of awareness.
But then maybe there’s something to this: maybe January (so-named for the god Janus, the god of the gateway in Rome) is truly the liminal month. Maybe January is the month of transition, and maybe that’s why the “blah” feeling appears.
Or maybe this point in January refers to something even more curious: we’ve just passed the point of the Resolution, a pastime where we resolve to do things in the New Year, succeed in do those things for about a week, and then quickly collapse back into our old habits.
One of my resolutions last year was to eat healthier and exercise more. That didn’t really happen, largely because I was plunged into a hell of dental work.
This year, I’ve kind of moved in that direction, having made a discovery of adding rice vinegar to broccoli slaw and how delicious and nutritious the combination is and making sure I drink more V8. V8 isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s better to drink a couple of cups of V8 and get that much vegetable matter into my body than to, say, eat a Twinkie.
Speaking of which, several years ago, I read an article about a man who went on a “Twinkie diet” and lost weight from it. The gist is simple: he ate only junk food but controlled his calories.
Naturally, this upset some people in the health nut community because a lot of the health nut community isn’t genuinely about health but is more concerned with winning the award for Most Suffering. Most Suffering is an incredibly bizarre but highly coveted award that many people in many different demographics seem to seek for reasons unbeknownst to me, but as a Buddhist, I’m somewhat concerned with (read: very oriented toward) ending suffering.
I can barely recall January of 2019; there was dental work, then more dental work, and then more dental work. I think I was watching The View a lot, and hoo, boy, let me tell you, that was a mistake.
But I’m really sticking well to staying away from social media.
Yes, I do have moments when I think of Facebook and want to post something, and then…I think better of it. I realize that people can email me or message me or follow my Instagram.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, but the entire feel is different- it’s entirely oriented toward the visual, so I can scroll and see pictures of cute dogs, art lessons, Tamagotchis, Korean food, Buddha statues, and hamsters, all within a minute.
In other words, I’m not in the realm of the 24/7 Perpetual Outrage Fest.
And if Instagram ever becomes like that, I’ll be gone.
Sometimes, we have to adjust our understanding. Sometimes, it takes stepping back, taking a deep breath, and composing ourselves.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of seeing things clearly.
So, as a liminal space, January is the time for Resting and Resetting. January isn’t the time to be doing huge projects or even starting them; this is the time to recover from 2019 and allow myself to arrive at the Present, in 2020.
Back to the year: other parts of the year that are of interest include looking forward to Spring around the time February hits, and then, in Spring, looking forward to Summer, and then, in Summer, looking forward to Autumn.
Who really looks forward to January beyond the first few days? Maybe some people, and I’ll cheer them on even I don’t quite get it.