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Letters to my son… continued from How to people, part 1

Constructing a teenage self

  • Masculine energy is what you are shooting for but masculine doesn’t mean aggressive. When guys are fighting, the calm friendly guy with the relaxed body language who steps in to stop them is the most masculine. It’s mostly about maintaining an even keel and being ready for things. Quiet competence. Monitor your crabbiness levels and try to get them down.  Yes, cockiness can enter into this, but cockiness without the calm and ready part is a well-recognized form of idiot. Never add more than a teaspoon of cockiness to the recipe.
  • That masculine energy thing isn’t a personality substitute, it’s a background characteristic. It should be something they can see in you, not all they see in you.
    • All girls respond well to positive male energy, and negatively to its absence. We are animals, you need it to succeed.
    • But don’t go with girls who only want that masculine personality substitute or some other male stereotype. They have Daddy issues and will never value your true soul.
  • You will need a personality though, and it will work best if modeled loosely on your actual personality. {joke} Most teenagers aren’t comfortable or happy with who they are. In fact many will identify with wrong and demented ideas of who they are based on all sorts of random crap they imagine makes them more acceptable. It can take years to see a lie you tell yourself.
  • Your high school peers will attempt to crush your genuine, spontaneous personality and this can leave you acting like a flat, nothing person whose only remaining tool is irony. This is proactively avoiding disapproval by trimming your wick to please the least wonderful people nearby. They aren’t monsters, high school is just an automatic personality black hole of shame and fear because nobody knows and everyone is pretending to know. If you know that, you at least have a small step up.
    • You are halfway between caterpillar and butterfly and that is inherently stressful and weird. Confidently ride it out, it’s temporary.
    • Some of your high school peers are comfortable with themselves, they’ve learned how empty and sad it is to hide themselves from the world. Follow their lead.
    • Define yourself or others will. It’s like letting strangers estimate the value of your life and affix a price tag.
  • Notice when you are happy, and figure out why you were happy. Do the same when you feel motivated. These will help with a sense of direction, and you need one.
    • If you don’t know what you want, you don’t need to spin the wheel, you need to feel your feelings more.
    • Solitary walks pull your parts back together and align them properly.
  • Lots of personality stuff is “Fake it till you make it”. The things you fake should be aspects of a person you’d rightfully hope to become someday. It’s all theater for a while, then one day it’s part of you. You can choose to be noble, loving and true.
  • People are about 30% rational.
    • When you talk, your listeners feel your energy, look at your face and body, listen to the music of your voice and lastly, hear what you are saying.
    • When texting/emailing they IMAGINE all these things about you and bend your text to fit the mood they imagined. They don’t know they are doing this.
  • Learn about body language, and what displays mean what to the people around them. Notice your own body, how you hold yourself and move.
    • Don’t make your body be nothing but a transport vehicle for your head. Occupy it.
    • Think of cartoon characters and how they walk: Evil guy, Complete boob, Romantic lover, Hero, etc. Try the walks when you have privacy, you can actually feel the personality arrive with the walk. Then decide how you want to walk.
    • Something like yoga would do you good too. A big part of being attractive is being comfortable in your own skin.
  • Habits are really hard to break.

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Why stress hormones and fight or flight response are part of ADHD “Teaching”

Here’s something that happens to ADHD children a lot:  Getting pushed beyond their limits by accident. Here’s how it works and why it’s so bad.

The child says, “I can’t do this.” Adult (teacher or parent) does not believe it, because Adult has seen Child do things that Adult considers more difficult, and Child is too young to properly articulate why the task is difficult.

Adult decides that the problem is something other than true inabilities, like laziness, lack of self-confidence, stubbornness, or lack of motivation.

Adult applies motivation in the form of harsher and harsher scoldings and punishments. The child becomes horribly distressed by these punishments. Finally, the negative emotions produce a wave of adrenaline that temporarily repairs the neurotransmitter deficits caused by ADHD, and the Child manages to do the task, nearly dropping from relief when it’s finally done.

The lesson the Adult takes away is that Child was able to do it all along, the task was quite reasonable, and Child just wasn’t trying hard enough. Now, surely Child has mastered the task and learned the value of simply following instructions the first time.

The lessons Child takes away? Well, it varies, but it might be:

  1. How to do the task while in a state of extreme panic, which does NOT easily translate into doing the task when calm.
  2. Using emergency fight-or-flight overdrive to deal with normal daily problems is reasonable and even expected.
  3. It’s not acceptable to refuse tasks, no matter how difficult or potentially harmful.
  4. Asking for help does not result in getting useful help.

…………..

Not mine, source:

More about the stress response

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“Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.”

– Thomas Carlyle in Frederick the Great (1858)

This capacity is born of love. Love lavishes attention and time on the beloved and is rewarded with a deeper relationship and greater intimacy.

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Part I.

Princess Laurel

Once upon a time, in the cold forests of the north, a little girl was born, the only child of the royal family of a small, troubled kingdom. She was named Princess Laurel. The trouble concerned the girl’s parents, the King, and the Queen. Theirs was a loveless marriage, arranged and imposed over their angry protests. Though dutiful, neither felt well used by their own families. Their marriage was demanded to secure a peace settlement unifying the eternally warring adjacent duchies of Laurel’s grandparents. Once a unified kingdom, these clans had ripped it in two. From their armored castle compounds at opposite edges of the kingdom, they battled each other viciously for control, bringing misery and chaos to the peaceful population. The history of their feud was a ragged scar dominating the history of the kingdom. Heartless power grabs, Murders, and revenge murders filled the pages of that history. One day something snapped and a peasant revolution exploded into action, capturing both families and demanding change or death. Facing insurrection and obliteration by the common people, the families bowed to the inevitable.

The arranged marriage was acclaimed as the first step toward true peace and unity for the Kingdom. The essential next step would be their child, who would grow up to rule the kingdom and being related to both clans, could resolve their conflicts with the power of blood and rank; A living human bridge to peace.

That was the shining hope in the hearts of the men and women of the kingdom but that outcome was the last thing either the King or the Queen wished to see happen. The optimistic premise of peacemaking wasn’t accepted by either aristocratic family, they merely sought their own advantage in any circumstances and would make the most of this that they could. They viewed the marriage as a duel for supremacy, with the king and queen as the tips of their respective blades. For now, though they must be patient. The peasants weren’t complete fools and held high ranking hostages for security.

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Note: This is a writing exercise exploring an important memory, but one that existed like a collection of facts without much context or meaning. I find when I use writing to explore a memory that the lights come back on, and details lead to meanings along a narrative path. Every time I’ve done this I’ve been given a fresh understanding with relevance to my life in this very minute.


When I was young I lived with chronic depression, untreated… could there even be a more discouraging opening to an erotic memory?

Nonetheless, there is fucking ahead. Also betrayal, malpractice, and naivety. Plus a soupcon of shitty meanness.

My depression as a child and adolescent was like a seasonal beating given by an indifferent but professional thug. Or pulling from a different box, I was like a tiny Pacific Atoll blown apart by tropical cyclones 2 to 3 times a year. My palm trees thrashed violently in the wind, my beaches eroded and my desperate citizens disappeared into any hiding place they could find. My dad was a veteran of maybe a dozen years of Freudian therapy for depression and my mom was in therapy for at least a couple of years.

To the best of my recollection, they never noticed my withdrawal and sorrow and I didn’t feel I should bother them for help.

I think that: 

  1. I might have masked it well enough to look pretty healthy, but
  2. How did they not notice anyway?

My son is extremely private, a secretive and enigmatic person, but I see clouds or clear skies on his face and understand the weather in there well enough to send aid and comfort to the suffering people of his tiny island. My suffering finally surfaced in talks with my mom when I was 15 or 16. My self-loathing and despair were catastrophic, a house burning down. She listened to me lovingly and sympathetically, she made positive suggestions, but that’s all. She didn’t perceive a need to address it beyond this. I don’t go back and live in the ashes of family psychodrama, blowing on the embers. I don’t hold mental Nuremberg trials for my parents and I find little value in blame beyond healthy and timely communication to keep the pipes running freely. But my parents let me down, the only two people, directly tasked with my well-being and very knowledgeable about mental health by the standards of the time, did nothing to help me despite the obvious crisis. I was failing out of school, peacefully refusing to do any work like a teenage “Bartelby the scrivener”. I had given up having friends and lived alone in my room. That’s the extent of the case I prosecute against them and that’s where I let it go, feeling mystified since I know they loved me and worried about me. Continue reading

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Caravaggio

 

1- The Entombment of Christ 2-Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, 3-Crucifixion of Saint Peter 4-The Beheading of St John the Baptist 5-Judith Beheading Holofernes 6-Flagellation of Christ 7-The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew 8-Annunciation 9-Rest on the Flight into Egypt 10-Narcissus 11-The Raising of Lazarus 12-Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy 13-Bacchus 

 

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“We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origins. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprint. And lo! It is our own.”

Sir Arthur Eddington, Space, Time, and Gravitation, 1920

 

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

 

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In every Third Mind post, I talk about people becoming social molecules. Two people meet and a sort of third, hybrid self pops into existence. I call it the third mind. It’s generally a wispy, nebulous self at the MOMENT that people meet, as in, introduce themselves. If you think about it there is almost a sort of taste to a first meeting but it’s usually all but drowned out in the psychic noise of social posturing, self-consciousness, and the jumble of talk from all around. Still, it’s there.

That deepening of the third mind between you is rather like the creating of a molecule. You are an element and they are an element, and you both have chemical properties. There will be a chemical reaction when you meet. In most meetings, these reactions are Ho-Hum, almost neutral. With most people your two elements just sort of look at each other and shrug: “Hey.”, “Yup.”

This first impression is bound to the context of the meeting. The SET and SETTING. Set is your expectations. The Setting is where you meet, but not the abstract address. It’s this place, but also the aesthetics and atmosphere, the mood, the feeling. We start with data expectations about this new person, the mental dossier we’ve gleaned so far. Then we steep those data points in the sensory atmosphere of this bar, or waiting room, or street corner, and our expectations gell.

Let’s talk blind dates. When you meet your blind date you know 0.7 seconds in whether this is anything or not. Within half an hour of talk, you know for certain if you ever want to see them again for any reason. Meeting the same person in a different context isn’t the same thing at all. You don’t sprint to such large conclusions when meeting Bob from accounting for example.

I’m intrigued by this instant knowing. What the hell is it exactly that we instantly know? In that specific moment where you know: “Absolutely not!” as opposed to “Meh.” or “Maybe”?.  It’s odd, I really don’t know what it is. Little labels identifying things that don’t feel right may float through your mind but I think those are more like questions than answers. The closest I can get is like this: Sorry, you are experiencing network connectivity problems, try resetting your modem.

No Connection. True, but no connection to what? Do we have a molecular binding site for romance? A lock and the wrong key? Honestly, it feels to me like everyone has an invisible elephant loyally plodding after them. When you meet, chemistry is how well the invisible elephants get along.

The significance of our SET on a blind date is almost literally cosmic: “I might have kids with you”, “I’m meeting my true love”. The overwrought significance of dating gets in the way of dating. You can be completely sensible and have all your ridiculous big expectations, pseudo-expectations, and even ghostly shadow expectations locked away in a big trunk that says “Oh, shut up” on the outside but when you see them, you can’t unknow why you are there. Then 0.7 seconds later you know something kind of fun and sexual could happen but it wouldn’t be worth the awkwardness of extracting yourself later. The rightness is so important to everyone that’s it’s as if an inner representative of your DESTINY steps forward like a humorless secret service agent to check out your date and gives you the tiniest head shake, no.

From across the table, your date’s secret service agent looks hard at you before giving the same little shake. OK, we’re done here…except for two hours of polite talk and an awkward goodnight.

 

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