05 May, 2010

Bridge To Better Days

"I'm on a bridge to better days, better days are coming now."
- Joe Bonamassa

Here's some background music for you to play while you read this entry (this is optional, but highly recommended):

Otis Rush - Got To Be Some Changes Made
(tip: open it in a new window)

This month marks the four year anniversary of my college graduation, and thus, the point after which I'll have spent more time out of college (since graduation) than I did in it. Naturally, this is an important milestone for me, especially considering that my post-college existence has consisted of "taking a break from life". At this point, it becomes increasingly apparent that I need to do something with my life, regardless of what it is, because I cannot continue this lifestyle indefinitely (as much as it seems like I could).

Now, I'm not really proud to admit that I've spent the last four years as a NEET (though I can admit it, at least here) - unemployed and not enrolled in education or any kind of professional training program. But there are two factors in my defense (more or less - depending on your perspective). The first being that I have certain psychological hurdles that I cannot credit as being a normal obstacle that an average person has to face (at least not on this magnitude). And for the second, I am only too eager to describe why the last four years of my life have not been wasted, despite not being spent in servitude to society.

On that count, allow me to elaborate. Though I have not been enrolled in an educational institution, I have not for a moment stopped learning. My virtually unrestricted internet access, in conjunction with my natural curiosity and propensity for learning, has enabled me to study indefinitely - at my leisure, and on topics that actually interest me and engage me (like the spiritual benefits of a naturist lifestyle, or how the scapegoating of a sexual minority affects the rights and liberties of decent, law-abiding citizens) to the point that I seek to learn them even without any reward other than the satisfaction of having my curiosity sated. You might roll your eyes at this, but I could argue that the last four years out of school have been far more fruitful (especially on an intra-personal level) than any four years of my formal schooling. Certainly, being the master of my own curriculum has allowed me to empower myself with the knowledge that is relevant to my interests, rather than that which is assigned by the cult of public education. But we'll side-step the issue of socio-political paranoia for now. You could argue that real world experience trumps book smarts - and I'd be inclined to agree - but that's not something I ever got from school anyway.

So then, what sort of things have I learned? Well, let's talk about the primary interests I've cultivated. I may have been good at math and science in school, but I did those things because I could do them, and because I was asked (eventually) to choose something out of the limited list of academics on offer to specialize in. It's true that I had at one time held a passion for "unlocking the secrets of the universe", but the higher up I got, the more the niggling details got in the way of that idealistic dream. It turns out the professional physics community is built on paradigms, and the likelihood of my becoming an Isaac Newton or an Albert Einstein was too small for me to be willing to bet a life of tedium on it. So in their wake, I've discovered things that move me, on a more basic level. No more head in the clouds, I want to express my individuality, and share the feelings I have with the world, the things I see of beauty in it, and the sounds that stir my soul.

Around the time that guitarist Joe Bonamassa put out his album The Ballad of John Henry (inspired by folk hero John Henry, the railway worker who "raced against a steam powered hammer and won", the legend of which has been a frequent muse for musicians), an interview was featured in Guitar Player, in which Joe explained his working class strategy for modest but enduring success as a blues rocker. Guitar Player says, "he embodies a refreshing work ethic and outlook on life that says no matter how fortunate you are, how many breaks you’re given, or how much god-given talent you possess, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at it." Although I am not well-suited to the hard work ethic, and not particularly motivated by longterm gains (I have to see results to be convinced), for some reason I became inspired by Joe's approach. Right then and there, I got into the regular habit of practicing guitar daily, and my skill has improved remarkably over the last year (in fact, it only took a few months for noticeable results to surface). Little by little, I'm trying to incorporate that approach into other facets of my life.

"Give me the hammer that killed John Henry, 'cause it won't kill me."
- Joe Bonamassa

And then there's my photography. I won't go into all the details of it here, but the fact is, my experience as an erotic photographer over the last few years has given me at least a basic knowledge and feel for the medium, and most importantly, it's fueled within me a sort of hunger. There are photographs that I want to take. And I can imagine fulfilling myself through photography in ways I've long given up on in my regular life. For example, I may never be a PUA, or rich enough to attract girls out of my league, but if I have the photographic skill, and a vision, and the drive to achieve it, I could have a legitimate excuse to surround myself with attractive photomodels. Okay, that makes it sound like the photography is a tool for getting close to girls. Actually, the photography itself is the fulfillment of the desire, it is the end and not the means, and the result, if I can live up to my expectations, will be the creation of true beauty, that can inspire others. (I've seen the seeds of it already.)

There's a little problem, though. I'm kind of afraid to go outside. I'm overly sensitive to the perceived judgments of others, and the sheer complexity and unfamiliarity of the world at large intimidates me to the point that, well, that I've kept myself locked in a hole for the last four years - of my own volition (see: VIII of Swords). Moving on and moving up is thus entirely dependent upon me overcoming the problem that has plagued me all my life, and that, even in the best situations, has kept me barely scraping by through the social arena, rather than allowing me to get the most out of my life.

"If I could only change my way of living, it would mean so much to me."
- Robert Johnson

For those who have not yet been briefed, I met a new friend a number of months ago, and on my request, she has (just in the past few weeks) helped me to scale The Wall between me and "help" that had previously kept me stuck in my comfortable and well-fashioned rut. As such, I am currently giving "therapy" a try. Yes, I said currently. It's not just a fantasy, it's a reality. The Wall has yet to be brought down, and I don't think I am yet convinced that it can be brought down, but I know that it must be, if I am ever to live. And so, like Indiana Jones taking that leap of faith into the abyss that spreads out before me, I reluctantly force myself forward, hoping to catch my foot on some solid ground ahead, because wherever I may be headed, I can't stay here in this hole forever.

Jessie Sammler is my role model.

Therefore, I am changing the name of this blog. Although I may still remain a NEET for some time yet - depending - I must be committed to moving forward into the next phase of my life. I was thinking recently about my college days, and how for so long they've seemed still alive within me, and contemporary. Like I was almost still living in those days, just slightly removed. But then, recently, I looked back, and realized that those days have finally faded firmly into the past. Which means that my life since then is becoming the new "just slightly removed", and thus a brand new phase, still mostly imperceptible, is now advancing upon me.

So I've hopped the Bridge of Sighs, and for now I stand on the Bridge To Better Days. A day somewhere yet further ahead will come, when those Better Days will be upon me. And for now, it is that future I work toward. I can think of two goals, other than battling my anxiety in general, that will mark that period. And they pertain to my two interests. I will be playing in a band. Rock, blues, whatever feels right, even if it's just cover songs. I'll no longer be afraid to interact with other musicians, and I'll have more confidence in my playing. And with my photography, I'll have the courage to promote myself and to work with other models, and, taking David Hamilton's advice to heart, I will learn how to approach attractive girls and ask them, if the conditions are right, to model for me. It's all pretty overwhelming for me to imagine, but I wouldn't be satisfied with anything less.

(I really should have ended this two paragraphs ago, because I think that would have made for a more compelling ending. :p)

P.S. (Preemptive Strike) You needn't patronize me with any sort of congratulations, as I have hardly done a thing...yet.


  1. Sounds awesome. Granted you'll surely want to keep things private, but if you're willing I'd really like to hear about your overall impression of therapy. No worries if you're not interested, of course.

    btw you should write a fantasy about your ideal of a perfect highschool day. Whether or not it actually includes school (weekend or what-have-you). Wouldn't that be badass?

  2. I'm happy to field questions. It's still early, of course.

    Did you see my response to your comments on my ideal day blog entry? That was pretty much the plot to the first story I wrote for The Prism Glass, believe it or not.

  3. Aaaah, I've been reading the recent posts but I didn't see that one way down there.

    Excellent story. "0ther kids complained about the exercise, but I derived from it a great sense of autonomy - something not easy to procure at that age," this reminds me 100% of how I felt that one day where I went to see a metal show at the rec center and 'Saigh at the den, and walked between the two in the rain. Made me feel better than damn near anything else in the world, walking through the rain. I wish I could have been made to take care of myself more in highschool.

    Did you really like PE or was that a bit of creative transfiguration? I despised the hell out of PE but lately it seems everyone I meet loved it.

    I'm not the type to 'play' no matter what the circumstances are. It's not in my genes. Even sexy, girlish play with a muse, LJ's into that kind of thing but I can't be bothered. Call me thick headed but I just don't see the point in waving your arms around or playing catch or jumping up and down, whatever. Doesn't make sense, doesn't ressonate with me.

    As far as therapy goes, do you find it an agreeable experience? Do you find your therapist to be engaging and helpful in directing the flow of events, or do they just sit back and wait for you to come up with everything yourself?

  4. No, I didn't like PE. I dreaded it. I can imagine a different reality where I would like it - after all, physical exercise tends to feel good - but in this reality, there were other things that got in the way of that. Like not having any athletic ability whatsoever, and not being a particularly popular kid. All these head games. Plus, we would always go outside when it was freezing cold, and I'd be freezing my ass off in my gym shorts...

    My therapist is very friendly and easy to get along with, and very engaging. Even for a person like me, prone to long awkward pauses, the hour goes by pretty effortlessly. Most people you talk to don't particular care about your problems, beyond friendly concern - after all, they've got problems of their own. So it's nice to have someone to talk to, who is intelligent and experienced in dealing with people's problems, to help you sort things out, to offer encouragement, and to suggest improvements.