Maybe I’m your friend, and I sent you this link. Maybe you’re someone who doesn’t know me at all. Whoever you are, you should probably go to therapy.
Let’s say you are my friend. We were probably having a conversation in which it sounded like you were stuck on the exact same thing you’d been stuck on three times before. Was it that a person you’re dating just happens to bring out in you the exact same pattern of behaviour you find to be really troubling, and you’re just unsure of why you can’t leave the relationship?
Again, I’m not sure who you are. But let’s imagine that yes, you’ve got some understanding that you’re doing something you feel helpless to stop. You might describe it as being stuck, or afflicted by weakness of the will, or who knows.
The answer to your dilemma is simple, but also really hard and weird. Here it is:
Go to therapy.
It’s that easy!
But it’s not easy to find a therapist that fits with you, nor to carve out the money to afford it. It’s not easy. But it’s the only thing that could help you break your impasse and understand why you’re stuck.
It’s not easy to go to a therapist, discover that it’s not a fit, and then go find another and start over again. But that’s what you’ve gotta do, because you keep demonstrating you’re not making progress on your own. The roots of your issue remain stuck deeply in the ground, and so you feel stuck, still.
It’s not easy to discover that CBT does nothing for you, and that the alternative that does seem to kinda work takes years. But that’s how it goes. Psychodynamic therapy and analysis works, if it works for you.
It’s also not easy to show up and make progress, when therapists don’t tell you to do much, and when it’s so fun to just get caught up in all your oldest, baddest patterns and dwell on the most superficial results of that work. But therapy’s the only place where you stand a chance at taking responsibility for your actions, your behaviour, your patterns, your life.
I don’t know why. But it’s how it is.
Thank you for reading this. I will never bring this up again to you. It’s on you to do something with it. It always has been.
Courtesy of an internet friend, who made this with another friend while bored at work. You may need to click on this link and view it in Youtube if it doesn’t play.
Did you know those things are shipping sometime this year? Did you know I have been very tempted to pay the small deposit, hoping that I would somehow come into an outrageous amount of money that would allow me to justify buying one of these bad boys? I would love nothing more.
I’d ended up with this really nice display that worked well with my USB-C and Thunderbolt 3-having Mac laptop, but I just assumed it would be impossibly hard to get running on Windows, so I just didn’t bother.
But then I found Shantanu Joshi’s helpful post in describing how to get it running, and figured: well, how about I try? In the three years that have passed since that post was published, a few things have changed, but not much, and after a couple false starts, I now have my PC pushing a full 5k, 60hz image! Here’s what I learned.Read more…
Sure, it may have been more or less constantly grey and soggy from November to April, but Vancouver really did have some stuff that was special. For me, during the three years I lived there, it was this hike up Cypress, and the electronic music scene. There’d be shows posted on the regular from Pacific Rhythm and Vancouver Arts and Leisure, and there were plenty of ways in if you wanted to play your own music, or just to dance.
Resident Advisor did a feature on the Vancouver sound, and they came up with this playlist to capture it. Florist by Marine Drive – track 3 – is especially dope to my ears. Press play, and reminisce with me:
The best part of this scene was that it didn’t close down at 11pm, like everything else in town. Parties would just keep going for as long as there were artists to perform. And artists were really performing. It was the first time I saw people use the tools that I decided I wanted to learn.
This was also a time in my life when I was zipping back and forth between the tech bubble of San Francisco every two weeks. That opened up this hilarious gulf in my life – between showily produced and curated and expensive San Franciscan experiences, and the fully DIY and self-perpetuating-against-all-odds vibe I got from going out to underground spots in Vancouver. At one show (I’m still not sure what to call these things), hosted in a gallery/studio in a Fairview back alley, we got “bottle service” for $25: a bottle of prosecco in a Home Depot bucket.
It was fucking great and humane, probably because it was, at its core, very, very queer. The few stable venues were in Vancouver’s gay village, on Davie.
Actually, at that Fairview show, we nearly didn’t get let in, because (a) we showed up at like 11pm and no one else was there yet, and (b) right as we rolled up, my bud decided to start talking the very specific talk that tech bro executives talk. Why? I don’t know. Maybe there’s something about walking up to an unmarked door in a back alley (they were always unmarked doors in back alleys) that makes us reach, and overreach, for ways to show we’re cool enough to be let in. I still remember them saying: “I think we get to decide if they can go in.”
We were let in, fortunately. The jams didn’t start for another hour.
None of these spots seemed to last more than a couple shows. Vancouver Arts and Leisure shut down, and was displaced by a condo. But the scene kept going.
And So Can You
That was a pretty funny pic, I thought. And then I wore that vest – a lil Arcteryx prototype vest my aunt found at their Vancouver outlet and gave me for Christmas – everyday at work until I got too hot sometime in June.
Why? To remind myself that I was at work.
“That’s obvious, though! Why bother?” Unfortunately, while it may have been obvious that I was at work based on the beige and the cubicles, I had a lot harder time finding the distinction between what was and wasn’t work. At its core, this was a failure to distinguish what work could and couldn’t do for me: work could, I kept discovering, keep me diverted and engaged at its best. But it could not ever give meaning to my life.
Work, I kept having to remind myself, shouldn’t be everything. It shouldn’t be all-consuming. It shouldn’t be the thing at the core of my life that gives meaning to the rest of what I do. Because I’d lived that way for enough years and in enough failed ways to know that it is a lie. There is no life worth living for me where work is the principal thing, or even the third most important thing, in my life.
This last role I was in was very demanding: it felt a lot like being a startup founder again in terms of scope, but without any of the commensurate control and authority you enjoy. So that throwback to my startup founding days made it real easy to regress into an older way of being that really fucked me up, and translated into many small bad things, like spending too much time and emotional energy on work, even when I wasn’t there.
But once things got really bad at my job, it meant what little capacity I had for maintaining that distinction just completely fell apart. I leaned on every coping strategy I had until my finances and my inner life were a jumbled mess.
And then I got a uniform.
You wear the uniform at work, and take it off when you get home. And with it, you have a ritual for setting aside all of the demands work will place on you. Whether you concede to those demands even after you have removed your uniform is up to you, ultimately. But then the fact of your betrayal of your own self is a little plainer: here you are, in your own clothes and home, making the habitual out of the supererogatory, ignoring all the things inside you that you swear can wait just a little longer.
Sometimes, people will make fun of your uniform, which I think is great. A bud at work showed up wearing a black vest and looking stoic, and yep. That’s me. I have been read, and I have been placed. I am the guy with a uniform. I am doing exactly what I must, and then I am free.