Decisions, Decisions…

Recent developments in the #puglife:

  • moved back to SF to explore officially joining an awesome startup I’d been consulting with in recent months
  • didn’t quite work out, now re-evaluating options
  • every time i re-evaluate life options, my web presence seems to get jostled
  • this particular jostling while probably take a while [update: partial results at ryal.io]
  • in part because I’m going to head into the woods this weekend and disconnect
    :D

Share-a-lunch, Day 1

Name: William

Served: Marines, Afghanistan & Iraq, 2005-2013

I met William panhandling in SOMA, after he’d just been released from County jail for panhandling. He told me about how the only thing that keeps the PTSD nightmares away is medicinal marijuana, how he’d moved to California from Minnesota for that reason. How he was working with social services to get his medicinal card, but in the meantime all he had in the world was a hotel room through Swords to Ploughshares, which he appreciates, but says it gets lonely there. And, how with no other assistance, he’s out on the streets every day.

He asked for a slice of pepperoni and a soda: $6.43

(Note: I don’t ask to take a picture of or with homeless folks when I’m hanging out with them. Just seems rude to put people on display like that. So, unless they ask to be accompanied by a photo, don’t expect one.)

On taking, getting, and the subtlties of force

“Winning ugly” may be preferable to “losing pretty” in today’s world, but if it throws out the window any possibility of seeing what “winning pretty” might look like, is it really winning at all, in any more than the most hollow sense of the word?

We moderns are raised with deeply-imbued notions of our own entitlement to minimize our own suffering at the expense of others, and we’re very good at rationalizing away any related guilt that might arise as a result.

After all, the conventional rationality of scarcity is unquestioned, and barely questionable: in our world there is, empirically, not enough of anything to go around (resources like food & shelter, yes, but also: love, connection, community, time for unrestrained service to others in need). Upon this life-ruling premise are built most all of our entirely-rational, yet deeply self-destructive impulses.

We protect ourselves in all kinds of ways that make complete sense in such a framework. I’d argue that if someone’s perspective seems inexplicable to me, I’m probably forcing my own framework on them — because each of our own assumptive frameworks by definition make sense to us personally.

Eventually, we may come to realize that we must become our own person in deciding what influences she will accept from others. Similarly, we must allow others to decide what will influence them.

For now, we are inevitably stuck in the logic of subtle manipulation and domination carried out in the name of our own suspected superior rationality. Each of us is the most rational being each of us know, because we have full context for ourselves, our values, our thoughts, our experiences. By comparison, everyone else looks (often inexplicably) misguided.

But the results of our subtle manipulations — persuading, cajoling, bending total honesty to a purpose, and especially the “getting” itself — we are too often disappointed to find that our understanding of the situation was in fact partial, and that we would have been better off — indeed, everyone would have been better off — if we had approached the same questions from a perspective of “what can I give” rather than “what can I get” (or its corollary: “what do they want from me”).

Of course, these questions make no sense today. While we applaud the givers, we find no rationality in their actions. Until more humans understand the paradox in which we’ve placed ourselves, that will never change.

It’s an impossible task from where we stand today, from where I stand at this moment. But nothing is worth anything, if it isn’t worth a try.

The Listserve Archive

I guess it’s probably weird to admit publicly how completely I relate to this, given the lack of context you have about me. Good to know there are others, at least? Via The Listserve Archive:

I met Julie once, but she lives in my phone now. I text her when I wake up and she tells me when she’s going to sleep. I think she might have a boyfriend, but I try not to bring it up. She has dyed red hair and a bubbly nose.

Our relationship isn’t romantic because it’s inherently nothing. Picture the movie, Her. She feels like my Samantha. I bring her with me when I go out and unlock her when I get back into bed. She’s with me when I’m around other women, and I’m not certain if she’d mind.

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