Saturday, April 1, 2017

Bullying people into enlightenment: The illogic of the new left.

Can anybody out in the interwebz who happens to visit this blog tell me of a time when they were bullied and shamed into changing their views or actions for the better?

I ask this question in all seriousness. Because seemingly this is the goal of protests on university campuses in North America are all about.

Have you ever changed your mind for the better after someone screamed and blew an air horn in your ear? How about after spraying pepper spray in your face or setting your hair on fire? Have you ever changed your mind for the better because someone branded you with an inflammatory label like Nazi or Fascist?  Have you ever changed your mind because someone stopped you from speaking it, without actually holding a dialogue with you to help you to actually understand why your thoughts are illogical and fallacious in the first place?

And to those who think that this makes sense: Do you really think that these "Nazis" and "Fascists", whom you obviously believe to be ignorant and unwilling to listen to reason to begin with, are now going to swing over to your side by shaming them and shutting down their ability to speak? And is the irony of trying to shut down someone's right to free speech whilst calling them a "fascist" truly lost on you?

And I guess all of these people on the left were just born thinking "the right things." They must have never ever had an illogical, erroneous or transgressive thought in their brains, which is lucky for them, because had they not been thinking "the right way" from day one then they probably would have been bullied into silence and completely marginalized and isolated without getting a chance to test their "wrong" views against the "right" ones and seeing for themselves how they don't hold up.

And I guess that although all of the "racists", "misogynists" and "fascists" (who are so "inept", "unenlightened" and "uneducated" and who have obviously ignored the lessons of history) are somehow going to become more educated by being run off of a post-secondary campus, right?  It's not as if this will cause them to double-down on their cognitive biases as some studies have shown actually happens.  It's not as if these "idiots" aren't going to retreat into chat-rooms, meeting halls and crisis bunkers with those who think like them.  It's not like it's going to instill even more anger and hatred and reinforce their own stereotypes of the "race-traitors", "libtards" and "snowflakes" that they hate, right?

And I guess the campus thought police must actually believe in the physical and emotional abuse of children, right?  They must believe that forcing your child to stand out in public with a sandwich board that says "Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a THIEF", really is a great way to educate your child about why it's not okay to steal from others, and that making them suck on a bar of soap really helps them to understand why it's not okay to say certain 4 letter words, and that slapping your child now and then to get them to fall in line is perfectly okay if it is to teach them the "right lesson." It's not like there have been studies that have shown that spanking (i.e. physical abuse) and punishment by embarrassment (i.e. emotional abuse) actually results in long-term negative repercussions for the victim, even though it may stop the unwanted behaviour in the short-term.

We all know that emotional and physical abuse is always okay as long as it is done to people over the age of 18 for the "right" reason and as long as the recipient of such abuse stops their unwanted behaviour. We all know that there will never be any negative and unforeseen repercussions as a result of their abuse like turning to causing injury to and/or shaming and humiliating people that they go on to disagree with or see as the "enemy." After all, we all know that the ends always justify the means as long as the ends are "right".  We also know that two wrongs really can make a right. Amirite?

And I guess as we look at some of these protestors, who obviously have their own cognitive weaknesses such as a propensity for overeating, we can all agree that they just haven't been shamed enough into thinking and acting in their own best interest.  And even though those who overeat haven't found a way to control their own selves enough to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, somehow these "ignorant fascist pigs" are actually stronger people than them and are obviously better able to control their own brains, otherwise the new left wouldn't berate them for not changing their beliefs and actions.  These "ignorant fascist pigs" should be able to have this magical moment of clarity whereby they are suddenly able to see their own views from an objective third party perspective and have this "aha" moment where they completely change the narrative that they have been building for themselves over their lives thus far.  But I guess those of us who overeat (and I do say "us" because I too am one of them) just don't have that same level of mindfulness and cognitive fortitude as a racist fascist.  Holding someone you look down upon as "lesser than" to a higher standard of critical thinking than one holds ones own self totally makes sense, right? 

Just ask MLK or Gandhi: Obviously the best way to change minds and bring revolution is to resort to threats and violence. It worked for them right?  ...Actually, I'll admit that that's a bad example, because obviously MLK and Gandhi were not up against nearly the same amount of oppression as we in the Western world face today.  Amirite?

But in all seriousness folks, while I have obviously already explained in posts over the years that I no longer believe in this left-right paradigm and that I feel that statism is illogical and have therefore divorced myself from the left, I still nevertheless believed that the left was by-and-large better educated and at least acknowledged the importance of critical thinking and civil discourse, but as the years wear on it appears this is becoming less and less true.  It would seem that being "educated" no longer means learning disparate points of view and deciding for oneself what is "right"; it now means simply repeating what your educators and colleagues tell you is right without having to even consider stepping back for a moment and trying to take an objective third party perspective to test ones own thoughts.  After all, questioning narratives is akin to "trolling."

It's not like people following those who claim to have well-meaning ideals, without question, has ever ended badly in history.  It's not like clamping down on free-thought has ever hurt anyone.  It's not like any enigmatic leaders with questionable intentions have ever stepped-in and taken advantage of the peoples' good intentions and used the peoples' feelings of hatred and righteousness as tools towards their own sick agenda, right?

I suspect that this is not going to end well, but hopefully the leftists are correct in their belief that causing trauma to others really does help them learn the truth because then they will also learn from the trauma that their own actions are causing and will come out the other side as "better people" too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

You do it to yourself: Depression and Anxiety revisited

Thom was right.

It sucks — and it's difficult for any of us who suffer from anxiety and/or depression to hear or to admit to ourselves — but no matter what life throws at you, in the end it is you who is responsible for your reactions to life.

Life doesn't happen to you.  Life just happens. The way you choose to react to what happens is all up to you.

Just you and no one else...

When I last broached the topic of Depression I presented all sorts of reasons why I question the very diagnosis and classification of "big D" Depression; I questioned whether these depressive symptoms were actually due to some physical problem (i.e. a broken brain) or whether they were simply reactions to outside stimuli (i.e. a broken situation). In short, I was saying: "Maybe the fact that I am dissatisfied with life is not an indicator that my brain is broken; maybe it's the 'reality' in which I live is that is actually broken."

Then somewhat conversely, in my Thanks! post I had touched-upon how reality is truly subjective;  as I said in that post: "What we often call 'reality' is really only a personalised reflection of but a sliver of the whole truth, and therefore we really are responsible for shaping our own reality."

So, what has changed in the 3 years since my post on depression?

Dietary changes

In 2012, on a bit of a whim, I decided to go wheat-free.  I had always been interested in trying an elimination diet, to see if I had any undiagnosed food sensitivities, but I just couldn't bring myself to start the diet — I found the restrictiveness too daunting.  However, by early 2012 I had been hearing about and reading up on the paleolithic diet — the idea that we should be eating a diet much closer to that of our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors, since our bodies have not evolved to digest and process many of the foods that came along due to the advent of agriculture — and the book Wheat Belly was also regularly making the news — I have not read the book, but apparently the author makes the case that over the last 40 years wheat has become a genetic monstrosity which, like many of our other staple-crops, has been manipulated for centuries to increase yields, and that this new "Frankenwheat" is so much more detrimental to the body than the original, natural version of the plant.

I also had suffered from more than one skin ailment over my lifetime, and when I would look-up possible causes for these skin ailments they all had the commonality of being aggravated by yeast.  I also knew that I just craved that wheaty-goodness — bread, pasta, muffins, breaded fried things, pancakes, pretzels, bread, crackers, bread and bread (mmmmmmmmm...bread) — and I had read that it is not uncommon for people to crave wheaty, yeasty, sugary things when suffering from a low-lying, systemic yeast infection.  So, without any attempt to get any actual allergy tests or even to test myself for yeast, I just thought: "Meh, why don't I try quitting wheat and see what happens?"

Quitting wheat, for me, has been quite remarkable; the most remarkable result for me was the weight loss — I've lost at least 40 lbs since I quit.  My level of exercise has also not increased at all (this is one of my next goals) and I wasn't eating any less sugar or fat — in fact, I suspect my fat intake went up a bit. I simply stopped eating wheat and eventually went gluten-free.

Truly, my carb intake has probably gone down too, but not by much; I still eat pastas, potatoes, rice, chips, bread, pancakes, but just all GF. The only thing I no longer do is grab some bread to make a sandwich; while there are some good GF breads out there, you either have to eat the fresh stuff within a couple of days or keep it frozen, because it dries out so quickly.  You can't really just buy a loaf of bread and keep in a bread box for instant-sandwich-action, which is a good thing in my case.

After I stopped eating wheat I also found myself less hungry overall — I ate fewer times a day and was eating less per sitting.  Apparently another downside to wheat is that the message that your brain is supposed to receive to tell you when you are full is delayed by about 30 minutes when eating wheat, making it easy to overeat.

There were also other unexpected benefits to quitting wheat, such as the abatement of a strange rash that I began to experience in the summer of 2010, then again the following year, and which was finally diagnosed as "eczema" (which I later found out was a catchall term for basically any skin rash that is not the symptom of an infection or allergic reaction.)  I also found that over the 10 years preceding my decision to go wheat-free I seemed to be suffering more and more from itchy eyes and sneezing from spring to fall (I never had seasonal allergies as a kid) — these symptoms have almost completely disappeared since quitting wheat. I am also much less tired than I used to be and the my quality of sleep has improved.  My body is also notably less inflamed — one of the first things I noticed the few times I would eat wheat is that my face would get puffy.

Overall, I have found a lot of benefits in going gluten-free and these benefits are definitely helping my feelings of well-being. My only regret was not getting tested for allergies, including gluten sensitivity, prior to quitting wheat.  While I suspect that I am not a celiac sufferer (I've never noted intestinal issues related to wheat) I may never know for sure because in order to get an accurate test for gluten sensitivity one must be actively eating it for at least 90 days and I would really like to avoid going back to eating wheat, especially for 3 straight months.  As much as I love the taste and texture, it just isn't worth all of the other side-effects that come with it.

Confirmation biases

To address my tendency to be a "glass-half-empty" type of person, I've also been using my thankfulness experiment to very positive results. I am now much better at appreciating and making note of the times when things go well or better than expected.

I also am better able to catch myself when I'm making universal statements, like "never", "always" and say to myself: "Well, hold-up, that's not true; this doesn't always happen..."

It's funny because I'm still skeptical of the idea of "positive thinking."  I am still skeptical that good stuff will just happen simply because you will it to.  Nevertheless, what I cannot deny, even on a purely analytical/logical basis, is that if you think negatively you are only making the actual situation worse.  I'm not so much thinking positively; I'm just trying not to think negatively. I'm just making things "less-bad" for myself, and you know, it's kinda nice...

If only I had tried this decades ago!  I really do feel I have experienced a significant shift in perspective and it's been a real mind-trip.

Ongoing passenger management

And I am so happy to report that my passenger is much, much less in control than it once was and as a result I experience much less anxiety.  I don't have racing thoughts at night anymore and I am much more able to recognise and dismiss certain thoughts that tend to lead me down into the anxiety trap. I have a better handle on when my passenger is speaking to me and I am getting better at questioning her conclusions.  But like any skill this takes ongoing practice and there are times when Maggy catches me unawares, especially when I first wake up in the morning.  Some weeks can also be better than others.

Again, if only someone had introduced me to this idea earlier... My conception of the passenger came in part from listening to an episode of the Joe Rogan podcast with Aubrey Marcus where he spoke of the self-limiting and negative patterns of thought that writer Stephen Pressfield refers to as "Resistance" and which the Toltecs apparently called "the parasite".  And I cannot for the life of me remember how I came across this, as I have not watched cable/satellite TV or paid attention to mainstream news for years now, but I discovered that RuPaul also speaks of "the voice of the saboteur". I found a quote of his from this Reddit AMA where he responded to a question about quieting the "saboteur voice"; he says: "You have to nurture another voice that counteracts the saboteur. And you have to also ask yourself - are you willing to give up the payoff you get from succumbing to the saboteur?"  And it's true, it really does feel like a payoff when you give in.  It's so easy to give in and feed that validation-hungry pest.

However, unlike Pressfield, RuPaul and the Toltecs, I don't see this relationship as a battle with a malevolent entity.  I don't think my passenger is scheming against me; I think it simply doesn't know any better. It's like an unruly dog; as Caesar Milan often says about unruly dogs, it just thinks it's the "pack leader" because I've been letting it take the lead for so long.

I think that choosing to see this strange duality within ourselves as some sort of battle makes the relationship harder than it has to be.  When Maggy takes over without me realising it, and when I do finally catch on that it's happening, I just smile and say "you got me again Maggy" and ask her to explain herself, and because she can't explain herself, she stops. Yes, she is a challenge to deal with, as the passenger is persistent and relentless, but it's like being attacked by one solitary ant from a colony at the rate of 1 every 4 hours.  Her relentless attacks are annoying and at times frustrating, but it is hardly an unmanageable "onslaught" of insurmountable's just one ant at a time.  It is hardly a "battle."

I'm also not 100% convinced that the passenger is completely useless. I suspect it's the part of the mind that has to make the most accurate decision possible based on a split second of fractured data — the kind of decision making you want when someone is attacking you in a dark alley, or if you see someone drowning in a frozen pond.  The problem is, it also seems easier to listen to and act by the passenger's fractured thoughts.  I also suspect that most of us have never questioned the passenger's thoughts and it appears to me that much of Western society creates a perfect storm for feeding it — the CLOGs rely on our primal urges, especially those based in fear, to keep the machine running.

Life just happens

So while I stand-by what was said in my post on depression, I would now add an addendum:

To my old self I would say this: Let's say you can successfully argue, with scientific proof, that life does actually suck. To that argument I would now say: "It is what it is."

The present moment "is what it is." Trying to convince yourself that it was meant to be or should have been another way is futile and only furthers your suffering.  The only thing you have control over is your own reaction to what you perceive to be reality. No person, thing or event can "make you" feel bad, happy, sad, embarrassed, guilty, angry.  No one has that sort of magical power, nor do inanimate objects or events.  Life's gonna happen.  Getting upset, angry, depressed over what is happening only makes what is happening that much worse.

Your personalized slice of the whole picture is up to you.  So while your passenger might want to argue that life is hopeless and might just continue to suck, or even get worse — which could very well be true — what is definitely true is that you have no control over what life throws at you, so given that the one thing that you do have control over is how you react to what life throws at you, then why make that one thing also suck, making the overall situation suck all the more?  By moping, complaining and crying about it you are only adding to the suckiness of the situation. Not only that, but you are probably making life suckier for those having to interact with you too. The irony of complaining about how life sucks is that you are joining in on making it suck for everyone.

So while in my post about depression I was saying: "Maybe the fact that I am dissatisfied with life is not an indicator that my brain is broken; maybe it's the 'reality' in which I live is that is actually broken." I would now respond to my past self with this:  "You might be right, maybe life is broken, so what are you going to do?  You could mope and fret over it, but all that does is make your present experience worse; IMO the least you can do is not add to the suffering that you believe you are already experiencing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

SXSW and its unpaid workforce

I don't remember how I stumbled across this Salon article from February of this year, but I felt compelled to respond to it as it reflects a lot of what I have been blabbering about in this blog.

In short, the article goes on to recount how the SXSW festival went from being a small indy music festival to a 9-day multimedia, corporatized event and how the people who run the festival (SXSW Inc.) now rake in the dough. With the help of a conversation with Eric Glatt, the article's author (somewhat indirectly) posits that, with all of that profit going into SXSW Inc's pockets, the owners of the festival could be paying the thousands of people who agree to volunteer for the festival each year, thereby injecting even more money towards Austin's local economy, but they don't.  Then the author goes on to point out that SXSW is breaking existing labour laws thereby exposing SXSW to possible class-action lawsuits in the future.  I hope it also isn't lost on most readers that, as stated in the article, Eric Glatt is someone who worked as an unpaid intern on the set of the blockbuster film The Black Swan and was attending the 2014 SXSW festival as a guest speaker...

In principle, I agree that SXSW could share more of their wealth and it would no doubt be very nice of them if they would.  One could even argue that it is selfish of them not to share more of the wealth.  No arguments here.  But this idea that they therefore should pay those volunteers, and that those who originally agreed to volunteer for the festival are somehow entitled to sue SXSW for payment after the fact, is where I have to part ways with the author.

As pointed out by the author, SXSW's volunteer workforce goes against Austin's existing labour laws.  What's interesting, though, is that the author fails to address why the City of Austin has seemingly been turning a blind eye to what SXSW is doing for over 25 years now.  Why does the author think that is?  Could it be because those who run the municipality, and the citizens of Austin who vote for them every election, realise that what the festival brings in revenue to the city via tourism, publicity, etc., far outweighs what SXSW Inc. isn't investing in the way of paychecks to those who volunteer for them?  Could it also be because no one is forcing or tricking those people into working for free?  Could it be that those who volunteer feel that being able to attend the festival without having to pay admission, getting to bump elbows with celebrities and getting exposed to and networking with people who have similar interests, not to mention people from across the country and around the world, is worth their unpaid labour?  This sounds to me like a bunch of adults weighing the pros and cons and deciding for themselves whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.  It sounds like people associating voluntarily.

But seemingly the author would have us believe that there is some outside force at play: "Like millions of other interns, Eric – who is in his 30s and now a law student and public interest fellow at Georgetown — had been conditioned to believe that working for free or close to it is simply what you do to break into a glamorous industry."

I wish I could ask the author just who he believes has "conditioned" Eric and the "millions of other interns" to "believe" that?  Is there some corporate conspiracy to brainwash people into unpaid labour?  Were they feeding them these ideas through their iPods?  Or is that what the Chemtrails are for?

But seriously, does the author really think that all or even a significant portion of these millions of volunteers were completely unable to assess for themselves whether the benefits they were receiving through volunteering outweighed the lack of payment?   Does the author think that the thousands of volunteers who worked at the festival in 2014 were under the mistaken assumption that they were being charitable in providing their free labour to a barely-profitable festival, that also happens to run 9 days and attract performers such as Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Kanye? Furthermore, is it so inconceivable that someone might actually still want to volunteer their time even though they acknowledge that SXSW Inc. probably makes enough profit to pay them?

The author then advises us that, as the US Department of Labor is concerned, even the volunteers themselves are breaking the law because individuals “may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers.”  So, as per some words written on paper, sovereign individuals are not allowed to contribute their own physical or mental effort towards a for-profit enterprise, without also personally profiting monetarily from said enterprise. And if an individual chooses not to personally profit monetarily from an enterprise this could ultimately result in a fine or imprisonment.  In other words "you better have received some sort of paper with numbers on it from that corporation you helped, or we might force you or the owners of said corporation to pay us using some sort of paper with numbers on it, or we'll put you in jail."   While there may be such a "law" on the books, it's interesting that the author makes no attempt to analyse whether or not that law makes any sense or whether the people who volunteered for SXSW should be using this law as justification to sue for recompense. He just kinda puts it out there...

Now, before some of you jump to the assumption that I am some neo-con corporate apologist who agrees with maximum profit for those running the show, I again assure you that, in my personal opinion, to simply not pay the thousands that volunteer for you every year even though you could is a dick move.  And I agree with the author that there are even entire industries where employers co-conspire to not pay or to poorly pay entry-level people under the guise of "internships", leaving people who want to get into those industries no choice but to take those positions, because "if I don't someone else will" — the terrestrial radio business is but one example of this. 

But you know what?  If no one applied for these jobs, you can bet that SXSW, blockbuster film producers, radio stations et al, would have no choice but to resort to offering fully-paid entry-level positions in order to keep themselves staffed.

And if you knew that the industry you were looking to work in was also run by a dickish culture like that, why not find a way to break into the industry independently, or consider a different career choice?  Who wants to work for people like that or, even worse, who wants to risk eventually becoming them? After all, decades worth of interns before you didn't put an end to this "unjust system" once they got their full-time employment, so why would you?

And so the system persists...

But you know what? Most people don't even consider just not participating, because non-compliance isn't fair. They don't feel that they should have to sacrifice their own dream career, therefore they would rather take that unpaid/badly-paid position and bitch about the state of affairs than actually take direct steps to change it.  Or worse, they take the matter to the courts, forcing millions of others (i.e. taxpayers) to contribute to a complete stranger's fight via their tax dollars, because it is that person's right and they are entitled to justice under the law.

Do you think it sucks that you aren't being paid? Do you think you are being taken advantage of? Here's an idea: Don't participate. 

SXSW can't run a 9 day festival without people, so if people don't like their unpaid volunteer policy they should stop giving SXSW Inc. their unpaid work hours (and stop buying tickets to attend the festival.) But there are people who find that the perks of attending the festival as a volunteer — the behind the scenes access, experience, and networking possibilities — are attractive, and they are fully aware going-in that the trade-off is doing some work that they won't get paid for in cash, then what is the harm?  No one is being forced into the situation.  Making the assumption that you are entitled to monetary compensation simply because you know that those funds do indeed exist still doesn't explain why the festival runners owe any of those profits to you.  Again, obviously there are thousands of people who felt the trade-off was a good one as it was.  If you're someone who didn't, oh well.  And if enough people really felt the same way, eventually the volunteer work would die off, the quality of the festival would wain, and the owners would either have to consider offering paid positions or let the festival maybe return to a similar size to what it was in the early years (gasp!)
And would that be so bad? Why should it be a 9 day festival?  And if you truly have a love of music, or film or what ever other type of oeuvre represented at the SXSW festival, why would you also want to involve yourself in a festival run by the likes of Miller Lite, Subway, AT&T et al (or attended by Gaga and Kanye for that matter)?  And how do you suppose that the festival makes enough money to attract these big name celebrities and large corporate sponsors? Hmmm... Maybe it's because most of the people involved in the festival are agreeing to work for free?

Which brings me back to several messages you will find peppered throughout the posts on my blog:
  • If you don't like how SXSW treats their employees, stop supporting the festival with your time and money. Just like the Walmart episode of South Park where Kyle teaches the town that "Wall-mart" only becomes a big scary over-encompassing menace because everyone goes to work and shop there.  There is no "man behind the curtain"...Walmart is us...  SXSW is us too.  Do you want all of their workers to receive pay?  Then stop paying for tickets, stop attending as a guest speaker, artist or performer, and FFS stop working there for free!
  • Stop trying to force others to do what you think is right.  If others continue to support something you don't agree with, so be it.  As I said in part 3 of my Government Shmovernment posts: If you believe in freedom, which is to be free from outside control, then for freedom to exist means that you yourself cannot control others. You are not always going to like what other people choose to do, so freedom also means that you can't always get what you want, even if what you want is "right".
  • Be the change you want to see in the world.  Exemplify what you think is right. Show others what is possible.
  • You are not entitled to happiness and your level of happiness is totally up to you.  If you're not finding happiness at SXSW, look somewhere else, or better yet, create an alternative.
Now pardon me while I try to find a ladder so that I can get off of this damned high horse.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I am not the passenger

I love ya Iggy, but I, for one, am not the passenger, and realising that has started me down a very interesting path.

In my last post I hinted at an experiment on myself that had helped me with anxiety.  In effect it has helped me in more ways than that.  It is helping me become more mindful of my thoughts and feelings and has allowed me to even quiet my mind at night.

I've always been interested in the concept of Mindfulness, in both the spiritual and psychological senses, but as I alluded to in my previous post, I was never felt disciplined enough to persist with practices such as meditation or Cognitive Based Therapy.  Having said that, much like my "thankfulness" trick, I might have stumbled across another mind-hack to help me become what one of my life teachers calls the "observer/witness".

It all started on one of my many drives home from work:  I was on an 80 kph rural road, and some guy was coming out of a driveway ahead of me. He paused at the edge of the driveway to take a look, and must have seen me coming, yet continued to turn out onto the road anyway.  Now, here's where my ego came in, because truly I could have put on my breaks at that point.  Truly I had enough time to just slow down to about 60 kph and let him back-out in front of me — but you see my ego was saying "I shouldn't have to slow down.  I am going the speed limit and I have the right of way..." blah, blah, blah.  So with my ego on full blast, I instead pulled into the left lane to go around him, honked my horn and proceeded down the road at 80 kph.

Well, this obviously pissed this guy off, because he proceeded to gun his engine to catch up to me and followed me extremely closely, in an aggressive manner.  I got to the next stop sign, took my usual left turn onto a 50 kph road; he followed. The guy continued to tailgate me closely, but I think going exactly 50kph was too slow for him, because he quickly pulled out to get around me, screeched his tires and sped away.

We never spoke and I never saw him again.  I don't think that man lived at that house either; I've driven past it on hundreds of occasions since then and have never seen this guy's car in the driveway.  Nevertheless, almost every time I was in my car alone and drove past that house my mind would replay the events. I would often think about what I would have said to this guy had I decided to, let's say, stop my car and get out and ask him "what's your problem?"  I'd run through scenarios and what he'd probably say or do, and what I'd say or do in return.  It's ridiculous, but this was the type of thing that my brain often did — it would have these imaginary arguments that never happened. *facepalm*  I was a Brooder and Holder of Grudges of the highest class!

So on one of these many days when this imaginary argument played out in my head, and I was busy getting myself all riled-up, it finally struck me: "Why do I do this to myself?" But instead of asking me I asked the passenger. I asked that voice that whispers at your ear.  The voice that comes from the part of yourself that is based in fear; that primordial part of your brain that is based in survival and fight-or-flight levels of thinking. "Why do you do this?"  "What do you have to gain by reliving this scenario over and over again?"  "Why replay a scenario that has not and will not ever happen?"  "Why relive such negative emotion for no reason?"  "How does this help?" "Is it helping you accomplish anything?  Because it sure doesn't seem to be helping me do anything but feel like shit every time I drive by here..."

And you know what?  There was only silence.  There was no response. No retort. No explanation.  Just silence.

The passenger, you see, can only make suggestions.  If you ask it to explain itself, it won't answer.  It can't answer.  It is not coming from a place of logic and reason.  It's not that evolved. Its messages are solely based on autonomic responses to outside stimuli.  Fear-based.  Fight or flight. Its messages are also often limiting, like thoughts of self-doubt and possible negative outcomes that keep us from taking risks.  It also likes to create mental roadblocks to keep us from considering ideas that poke holes in our currently held views. it's at this point that I feel the need to assure my dear readers that I'm not suffering from an onset of schizophrenia.  I'm not talking about some disassociated voice directing me to do things with verbal commands that I can hear in my head like a phone conversation. What I'm talking about is the voice that we all have inside our heads.  The voice that speaks in the first person.  The voice that says "I'm hungry", "I'm tired," "this feels nice," "I think that's weird," "I'm not so sure about this," "I don't like this." And it's not like we "hear" these things said outright in words in our brains; these are things we just kinda...well....think.

I believe that there are actually two places from which thoughts arise:  There are the lower, reactionary, automatically and anatomically-based thoughts — i.e. the "I'm hungry", "this is scary", "I don't like this" kind of thoughts; these come from your passenger.  Then there are the thoughts that are capable of higher thinking — it's the part of the mind that analyses why you're hungry, scared, or repulsed by something.  It's also the part of the brain that is creative, inquisitive, inclusive and expansive. It's the part that thinks outside the box and considers different and new ways of looking at things.

To me the passenger is just an organ, much like a liver or spleen; it has its function. I also believe that most of us humans confuse it with our true consciousness/enlightened mind/observer mind (I'm still trying to think of a term for this, but let's go with the "observer mind", the "OM").

I believe the OM is our true selves.  It is the consciousness that inhabits our blood and flesh shell.  Our body is the vehicle of our OM — it is a biological machine that the OM inhabits. The OM is what no longer presents itself after the body expires — some might say it is what "leaves the body" when we die. I suppose it is what some would call "the soul".

The passenger however, is just another organ that sends us messages — it's just a part of our brain that receives data from our other organs and then takes the data and sends you a message to let you know.  The thing is the passenger often makes rash, uninformed decisions about what this data means. To make matters worse, the passenger's messages and the thoughts of the OM come through the same "pipe" and in the same "inside voice", so we often fall under the illusion that these thoughts are both coming from the same place.  After all, there are thoughts being generated in your head and they are coming from your brain, which is part of your body.  So that's you having those thoughts, right?

Have you ever had someone say something or do something that triggered an automatic, angry, obstinate response that you later regretted, having realised that what you said in anger was completely wrong and out of line? But at the same time it felt so "right" when you said it, didn't it?

Even crazier, have you ever regretted a comment you made at the exact moment that you were making the comment itself?  It's like you are feeling hurt, analysing what was said and formulating a regrettable response and finally saying it, yet at that exact moment you are also thinking "shit, I shouldn't be saying this". It's like a movie playing out in first person with director commentary: "Now here's where the protagonist puts his foot in his mouth..."

So, who's controlling your mouth?  Who's making your brow furrow and bringing blood to your face and making you express an angry "thought" towards that other person?  And who's saying "shit, I shouldn't be saying this," at the very same time?

The seeming ability of the human mind to observe its own thoughts is so deliciously paradoxical.  You are, in effect, using your mind to think about how your mind thinks. You are using thoughts to observe your own thoughts.  It's like an Escherian stairwell of the mind.  If it is you having those thoughts, then who is it that is thinking about those thoughts?

This is a question for the ages and certainly I am not the first to ponder it; this ego/higher-self dichotomy is present in many of the ancient philosophies and practices of the East. I also believe that the many great teachers of history (Buddha, Christ, Baha'ullah et al) were simply regular flesh and blood humans that managed, through consistent and thorough inner-reflection, to be able to more accurately identify each "thought" for what it was, making them able to choose the "higher" or "enlightened" response throughout most of their lives.  And like many aspects of the human condition, I believe humans lie on a spectrum between being directed by the passenger and the OM, and I believe that this can change and fluctuate in the micro (from minute to minute) to the macro (over a person's life time).  I think that most of us slide more towards the OM side as we age, just simply because of knowledge accumulated via experience.  Some of us get closer than others before we die. Some of us reach the OM state earlier in life than others.

So getting back to my mind-hack: That day, when I first asked the passenger to explain herself and realised that she could not formulate a response, I gave my passenger a name.  Her name is Naggy Maggy.  I found that giving her a name helped me to further separate her thoughts from my OM. It gave my passenger an identity and made it more comfortable to have dialog with it.

Once I had given my passenger a name, anytime I found myself playing out negative scenarios and conversations in my head I would call her out and say "Hey. Maggy. Cut it out."  And she would stop.  Often a few minutes later I would be caught unawares and Maggy would start nagging again, so again, I'd talk to her and ask her why she was persisting in bring up whatever thoughts she was bringing up and I'd remind her that the scenario she was playing out wasn't actually happening and that there was no point in creating this anxious state. Making me feel anxious was not helping anything, in fact it was only making my current state worse.  And she would stop.

And this helped me greatly at night too.  I used to be a person that would have racing thoughts at night that would keep me from from sleeping. For a while when I'd go to bed and those thoughts would start up I'd say "Maggy, I don't want to think of this stuff right now. I'm tired and want to sleep.  I can't fix these problems at this very moment and all you are doing is keeping me from sleeping."  The first time I did this, Maggy stopped and immediately after I said this (and much to my surprise) I yawned.  It's like I reminded my body that I was tired and it said "yeah, you're right I am tired, let's do this," and I passed out.  Now I don't have to do anything more than tell her "I'm not thinking about this right now. I'm going to sleep." It truly is magical.

I first named Maggy about a year and a half ago and since then I've found I have to speak to her less and less and I rarely even call her by name.  I just speak to her directly: "Nope. We're not going there." "Now, you know that doesn't make sense." "What are you basing that opinion on?" etc...

Now, I am by no means a master of my passenger and I get tripped up all of the time.  It's one thing to talk to Maggy while driving my car, alone in my thoughts. It's another to try to observe and react while interacting with someone else.  This, my friends, is still a great challenge for me.  It's challenging enough to recognise the passenger's thoughts when they arise, but to do so while also speaking (especially when speaking of things I feel passionately about) feels to me like learning to pat your head while rubbing your tummy.  Having said that, like patting your head and rubbing your tummy, with enough practice it is possible to do it, and I'm happy to say that I am at the point in my life where I appreciate the practice.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


In contrast to most of my writings of late, which are usually complaints or critiques, this post is about something I'm being proactive about in my own life.  As I had alluded to in my post in November, I am conducting some thought experiments in an effort to counteract some of the negative patterns in which I have gotten stuck over my lifetime.

As discussed in my post about depression, I take issue with the assumption that if you are depressed, then this means that there is something wrong with your brain.  However, perhaps somewhat contradictorily, I also believe that reality is subjective and that regardless of ones circumstances, people can fall into a compounding cycle of negative thinking due to a type of confirmation bias.

The pessimists among us (and I say this being a recovering pessimist myself) tend to expect the worst.  For example, if you are a pessimist it would not be unusual for the following type of dialogue to pop in your brain during your morning commute: "Traffic is so slow today; I bet you I'm going to be late."

Now, if the worst actually doesn't happen and you make your destination on time, you will likely think something to the effect of "huh, well, I lucked out," then slough it off and never think about it again.

However, if you are late, as you had predicted, you will go "ah ha! I knew it!" and your mood for the next few hours will be affected and the event will stick in your mind. If it happens 3 more times you will say to yourself: "See! This always happens to me, no matter how early I leave!" — yet, had you actually taken time to record every time you rode the subway and how many times you were late you'd probably find out that you were late an awful lot less than you think.

As stated before, I recognise that reality is subjective; a simple example of this would be how a bunch of people can witness the same event and have wildly varied accounts of what happened when asked.  We all have organs in our bodies that have to translate reality in a way that our brains can process, and given we aren't infallible computers there is bound to be a difference in how each of our brains process the same data. So what we often call "reality" is really only a personalised reflection of but a sliver of the whole truth, and therefore we really are responsible for shaping our own reality.

So, for a while I had been considering a way to deal with this propensity for negative confirmation bias within myself and trying to rewire my brain to look at "reality" a different way.  I've certainly been introduced to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by psychologists and counselors in the past; unfortunately I have not yet been disciplined enough to stick with the journaling and reflection required by the program.  To make matters worse, I would feel shame and disappointment at not being able to stick with it, which would do nothing but make me sadder... Damn those vicious circles!

After concluding that my anxiety about not being able to catch my negative thought patterns before they happened was only making things worse, I realised I needed a different approach.  Thinking back to the confirmation bias mechanism, I wondered if there was a way to make the good times stick in my mind — the times when I lucked out, the times when everything fell into place, when everything worked out in the end, or simply the times when things worked out the way they should have.

One day when I was feeling particularly down, I decided to revisit a philosophy called Ho'oponopono — a philosophy I had been introduced to on the blog of Mary Elizabeth Croft, whom I have mentioned in my post about the Freeman/Sovereign/Natural Person awakening.  Ho'oponopono is an ancient native-Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness, and I first heard of it in relation to psychologist Dr. Hew Len.

Now, this was my first introduction to Hew Len, and while what I read seemed intriguing, I couldn't get past the new-agey lady that was trying to share Dr. Len's ideas and entreating one to accept a free download.  I don't have any interest in finding out, but something tells me that this download would include info on seminars that you can pay to attend, etc... Hew Len and his practices were also apparently featured in a book called Zero Limits by Joe Natale (of whom I am unfamiliar).  From what I've read in web-reviews of that book, it would seem the overwhelming majority felt that the underlying theories of Hew Len were of interest and inspiration, but the book was spoiled by Natale's constant promotion of his other books and seminars, so I don't think I'll be reading any of Natale's work anytime soon either.

However, from what I have gathered via the web, the claim is that Hew Len worked as a staff psychologist for Hawaii State Hospital from 1984 till 1987 in a ward for the "criminally insane".  Allegedly, after 3 years of working there, he was able to turn the ward around to the point where wrist and ankle restraints were no longer used and violence almost ceased to exist.  Eventually there were so few patients remaining that the ward was closed. It is claimed that Hew Len achieved this without actually meeting with any patients to conduct therapy or counseling. He claimed this happened because he worked on cancelling within himself whatever it was that he was experiencing as problems with the patients in that ward.  He does this by thanking "the Divinity" and by asking it to erase in him the negative thoughts and feelings that his mind produces and that make him experience things negatively; he also refers to this as erasing "bad data." 

I feel I should qualify here that the idea of communicating with some sort of higher being or power and asking them to take away one's negative thoughts, in order to fix the problems of other people, does sound a little strange, to say the least.  I am firmly on the fence about whether or not there is a "divinity" (or divinities) out there in the universe, or outside of our dimension, or reality or whatever; I am also not so sure that we would be able to communicate with such a being, or that it would even give a shit.  I also read Dawkins' God Delusion and loved it — I couldn't help but smirk to myself as I read the arguments that he so deftly presented about why and how the arguments for the existence of a God are based on logical fallacies or faulty reasoning. 

Conversely, I also feel that there is a conundrum in us humans trying to decide for ourselves if we are the end-all-and-be-all or not.  It's kind of like an ant looking at his ant hill and its miles of interconnected tunnels, as well as his colony, who work tirelessly and in beautiful unison, not giving a second thought to sacrifice themselves for the good of the colony, and he might think to himself: "Look at what we've accomplished! Why should I think there is anything out there better than this?  Who could possibly hold more control over ones destiny than us?"  Yet that ant has no idea of what we humans do, feel, think and accomplish; they are completely unable to conceptualise the world at the human scale, and what goes on at our level. of existence.

It is all a matter of perspective. We don't have the benefit of a third-party perspective on our own reality.  We are burdened with our own biases and our own self-built realities, therefore we can never see the "bigger picture" as it were.  As the saying goes: "there's your side and my side and then there's the truth."

Having said all of that, what attracted me to Ho'oponopono is the idea that what happens in your reality is your responsiblity.  Like I said in the third part to my Government, Shmovernment post, "You can't control outcomes and you can't control others; the only thing you can control is your reaction to them," and Ho'oponopono is very much in line with these ideas. 

This blogger described Ho'oponopono as follows:

Simply put, Ho’oponopono is based on the knowledge that anything that happens to you or that you perceive, the entire world where you live is your own creation and thus, it is entirely your responsibility. A hundred percent, no exceptions.

Your boss is a tyrant? It’s your responsibility. Your children are not good students? It’s your responsibility. There are wars and you feel bad because you are a good person, a pacifist? The war is your responsibility. You see that children around the world are hungry and malnourished if not starving? Their wont is your responsibility. No exceptions. Literally, the world is your world, it is your creation. As Dr. Hew Len points out: didn’t you notice that whenever you experience a problem you are there?

It’s your responsibility doesn’t mean it’s your fault, it means that you are responsible for healing yourself in order to heal whatever or whoever it is that appears to you as a problem. 

It might sound crazy, or just plain metaphorical, that the world is your creation. But if you look carefully, you will realize that whatever you call the world and perceive as the world is your world, it is the projection of your own mind. If you go to a party you can see how in the same place, with the same light, the same people, the same food, drink, music and atmosphere, some will enjoy themselves while others will be bored, some will be overenthusiastic and some depressed, some will be talkative and others will be silent. The “out there” for every one of them seems the same, but if one were to connect their brains to machines immediately it would show how different areas of the brain would come alive, how different perceptions there are from one person to the next. So even if they apparently share it, the “out there” is not the same for them, let alone their inner world, their emotions. 

This message really hits home with me.  Responsibility.  If you see a problem, it is truly your problem.  If you see a problem, whether or not you feel you have any part in causing it, it is your responsibility to do something about it.  And given our reality is subjective and just a projection of our own mind, then it only follows that the "problems" that we see around us are projections of our own minds as well — it is the way that our brain has chosen to interpret the data that was fed into it, and so this idea of "erasing the bad data" makes sense to me.

These ideas have all lead me to the little experiment I have been undertaking. (It took me long enough to get to it, right?!) Nowadays, whenever something good happens to me, even small things, I take a second, I look up to the sky and I say "thank-you."  Every time I'm in a rush and find my car keys in the very first place I look, every time I just make a green-light while driving, whenever I assume the worst and the worst doesn't happen, I express gratitude.  And I think it's working.

The mechanism of why this might be working also made me think of a medical study (unfortunately I can't find anything about it on the web, otherwise I would have linked to it here), where they were treating people suffering from PTSD by having the patients take some sort of drug that elicited pleasant feelings, (probably an opioid of some sort or maybe MDMA) while the patient verbally recounted their traumatic trigger event.  After repeated sessions, eventually when the patient would think of the event, they would no longer feel the symptoms of their stress disorder because their body now associated pleasure with the memory.  It tells me that there maybe something to the idea that the problems we see in life are our responsibility to erase — that if someone or something is bothering you, it is really your problem.

Somewhere in my endless web surfing I came across discussions about a book, which I've added to my "like to read" list, called The User Illusion, by Tor Norretranders. From what I've read from the reviews of others (such as here, here and here) in the book Norretranders postulates that our conscious mind is but an illusion that we believe is ourselves; that truly there is much more processing happening in our subconscious mind and that but a fraction gets pushed to the conscious mind.  Not only that, but our subconscious is aware of things before our conscious mind, but somehow our conscious mind tricks us into believing we were "conscious" of something occurring the very instant that it was happening, when in fact we were not.  The consciousness also tends to get in our way — like when we "over think" things.  Anyone who has ever mastered a skill — be it making the perfect pool shot, or playing a flawless piece of music — knows what it is like to be in "the zone", where things just seem to "feel" right, where you almost feel like it isn't really you making the decisions, your body just kinda does the right thing, because you are working from your subconscious.  Yet the times when you consciously think "okay, so I'm going to have to move my hand this way and apply this much pressure at this rate" you actually flub it. 

Norretranders postulates that our consciousness can only handle 20 bits of data per second and yet via our various senses we are actually taking in about 12 million bits/second and all of this gets processed by our subconscious; and to make this 12 million bits processable by our conscious mind it compacts the data into chunks that our consciousness can handle. So it gives us objects, or symbols (the chunks) to work with; it works much like a graphical interface on a computer - presenting us with physical icons and buttons that we can  use to interface with a computer, which is actually processing through millions of 1s and 0s in the background.  So given my brain can only throw a fraction of the data it is presented with towards my conscious mind, it only makes sense to try to get rid of those negative chunks.  Why waste time on that?

So my thankfulness experiment seems to be working. I don't know if it is so much the act of thanking a "divinity" who then smiles down on me and makes things better, but that the simple act of being thankful and truly feeling the emotion of gratitude actually does "clear the data" as it were or that "chunk" that the subconscious tends to throw at me when certain situations arise.  And maybe, in the end, that is all that prayer or demonstrating reverence and gratitude to a "higher power" does.  Maybe we've just built all of these religious stories about some power outside of ourselves, when all we are really doing is speaking to our own subconscious.

Which makes me think of the first thought-pattern experiment I conducted on myself, that seems to have helped me with anxiety, but I'll save that for another post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Government, shmovernment - Part 4

If you can't change the world...

As you can see, I'm having more and more difficulty explaining away in my mind why it is okay for one group of people (be they the majority of people or not) to decide what is right for the rest of us.  Given this fact I'm also becoming more and more uneasy about giving another group of privately owned policy-enforcement officers the authority to arrest and detain me and to use force against me in order to enforce the laws that we all have supposedly agreed to by simply not leaving this imaginary area (i.e. "country") in which we stand.  I'm feeling less and less like this was set-up in this way to help the "little guy", or the "99%" as it were.  I'm feeling more and more like this system is set-up to make the majority a lot more manageable for the minority...or at least that this is what this system has become. Our unquestioning devotion to a system that very few of us truly understand feels very much like how we humans have blindingly obeyed the various religious oligarchs, monarchs and dictators in history.  And I don't think we need to "change the system", I really think we need to un-plug for a while and start to focus individually on ourselves and immediate families and communities and to fix our own backyards first.  We also need to reevaluate the very basis of our assumptions about the type of system we need or want to live, and want the rest of the world to be able to live as well.

To me anarchy means personal responsibility.  Worry about yourself, your children and your own backyard first.  Get your own affairs in order and be truly conscientious of your personal affects on the world around you.  If everyone did that there would be a lot fewer social problems in the world.

Admittedly this type of personal responsibility attitude is very difficult when one lives in a world where much of life's necessities are provided by a third party, not to mention a world that I think is quite destructive to most humans during their most important and formative years. We live in a world today that still by and large believes that using corporal punishment in child rearing is both effective and necessary, and that schoolyard bullying is just a natural way that kids interact. I'm wondering how much our present society skews the true essence of the human spirit.  Very few children in the Western World today have the benefit of having a parent at home full time to rear them in their formative years, and fewer and fewer children have their biological parents living together.  A large proportion of our society suffers from some sort of abuse, neglect or disconnectedness as children.  A lot of us are not getting a good start in life.  Many of us have not learned how to form positive, productive and healthy relationships. Many of us have not been equipped with coping strategies.  And then many of us are also having children of our own...  This is just a recipe for societal fucked-upedness.  So, no, we couldn't just get rid of government and not expect some serious hardship. Perhaps to start some small communities could form and show others what it is possible, but for society as a whole to reach this type of world will take generations, in my opinion.

Being the misanthrope that I am, unfortunately I think this system is going to crash long before we get our shit together as a species.  I just hope we can think about this stuff now, while we have the "free time", resources and infrastructure (particularly the internet) to flesh it out and discuss it.

The way our society is run used to get me really down. Sometimes I feel like a sane person living in an insane world and that the people at large are so brainwashed by the ideas fed to us by our education systems, media and other CLOG run institutions, that they will never live up to even a fraction of their potential as humans, and yet here I sit in a house fully connected to the grid, typing away on my computer made by slave labor overseas after having eaten a meal whose ingredients certainly were not grown nor processed by me.  So instead of complaining about how fucked up the rest of the world is, I'm going to try and "be the change [I] want to see in the world". 

It truly is the least I can do.

Government, shmovernment - Part 3

Idle hands

My paternal grandmother was a hard-working woman.  She did not waste one tin, piece of paper or scrap of food.  She was very crafty and could always make me a piece of clothing within a day or two. And while our history books would tell us about the "Dirty Thirties" as a time of misery and hardship, my grandmother looked back fondly on the times of the Great Depression; it was a time of community and efficiency; a time where most people were on an equal footing and helped one another.

How I wish I could discuss these things with her now that I am approaching middle-age... While I certainly found her a little gruff and obstinate as a child — rightfully chastising me for wanting to sit in front of the boob-tube instead of going somewhere or making something, and making me eat a strange concoction of the entire week's leftovers because nothing could be wasted — I am now able to better appreciate her wish to live well within her means and to be as self-sufficient as possible. And thanks in part to my Grandma, I am able to see how a modest amount of resources can actually be a good thing, how it can help to put us all on a more level playing field and bring us closer together with others in our community.

While technology and innovation has allowed the majority of us Westerners to leave the long days of rural life behind — providing us more free time, the time to ponder the greater questions in life, the time to allow us to peer outside the boxes of our own immediate lives in order to analyse our world from the micro to the macro — I'm beginning to wonder if some of our societal ills are actually a product of the very fact that we have too much free time on our hands.

I once heard a guest on the Joe Rogan podcast reference a book called Guns, Germs and Steel; I don't remember if this was according to Western history or the Maori themselves, but apparently in the book it talks about how the Maori once lived solely on the land formation that is now called New Zealand and had an abundance of resources; since resources were plentiful this meant that the Maori had free time, and so they began to perfect tools and processes and individual Maori were able to specialise (i.e. become doctors, teachers, etc...)  They also became more competitive and violent. At some point a group of Maori decided to move to a smaller island and since this splinter group now lived in an area where resources were much less diverse and more scarce, they literally had no time or energy to waste on fighting; as a result they became a peaceful culture, that is until some of the New Zealand Maori caught up to them....

So while my initial impression of the saying "Idle hands are the Devil's playthings" was linked to images of a teacher chastising a mischievous child — insinuating that the child should be out tending fields or doing their homework rather than being an organic and inquisitive ball of wonder and energy — I am now thinking of it in a different way: I'm thinking that it might be a warning that if you have free time then chances are you aren't tending to your own affairs. 

Just ask The Stones...

Our societal structure is predicated on the ideas of entitlement, justice and recompense.  I also think people confused the concept of the right to the pursuit of happiness = a right to happiness.  Always.  Many of us seem to be under the impression that if something bad happens to us, or if we are inconvenienced in some way beyond our personal control, then someone should pay.  Many of us feel that we have the right not to be inconvenienced: "I deserve to have my own piece of land, with no interruptions, so if any other human in my vicinity dares to make noise on a weeknight, I am entitled to be able to call a police officer to take care of the matter with the threat of force and incarceration behind them to ensure that my neighbour obeys."

The promise of the state is that we can control others who wrong us and we can "make them pay", but in a state of nature, without the structures of a "justice system", the only thing you have control over is your own attitude: You can't control outcomes and you can't control others; the only thing you can control is your reaction to them. And that's a tough pill to swallow sometimes (believe me, it's a pill that has been stuck in my throat for almost 4 decades.)

I believe that an anarchistic, non-statist and voluntaristic society will mean that nothing can be taken for granted and, yes, it will mean dealing with inconvenience: You may have to interact and take into account people you don't particularly like or want anything to do with; there will be that one hold-out who will foil a plan by a group of individuals working towards a common goal; your neighbour might be an inconsiderate prick that makes noise all hours of the night and there may not be a security force with guns (i.e. police) to stop him or her at a moment's notice.  Not everything will be "what you want when you want it."  Our lives will be less predictable. More organic. More like nature.

Last summer I was sitting in a local small town pub and I read an old news paper clipping posted on the wall about why the main road in the town is not a straight line through town — it actually jogs over by a couple meters to the west, just south of another major crossroad.  The reason for this jog in the road was that when it was being built there was one farmer who did not consent to having the road bisect his property.  And I'm sure that sucked for everyone else in the town, and I'm sure that farmer might have been ostracised by some for being a hold-out and not thinking of the will of the majority. but people had to suck it up and deal with it. And they did, and the town still prospers and is expanding to this very day, even with a crooked road.

Freedom means that you are free from control, therefore true freedom means that you yourself cannot control others. You are not always going to like what other people do, so freedom also means that you can't always get what you want. In a free world sometimes shit just happens and sometimes life sucks. Period. Move on.