Archive for the ‘ Stand and Deliver ’ Category

The Game

This post might take some thinking, some reflective thought. I hope that it does.

We’ve all done it. Played along to get along. The game of life, all that crap you do every day so that you can rush around in some strange place for a week or two, burning through all your savings, so that you can tell everyone what a wonderful time you had while you weren’t doing all that crap you do every day.

 

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Game:

a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.
synonyms:    pastime, diversion, entertainment, amusement, distraction, divertissement, recreation, sport, activity

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We don’t always realize it. Graduate from school not sure what we’re going to do and the next thing you  know you are caught up in trying to pay your bills and meet the requirements of being human. Eat, sleep, fornicate, drink, breathe… in any order that you like. Lather, rinse, repeat. Our interests distract us and we become overburdened just trying to meet the 5 requirements, the 5 necessary things that our bodies demand we do. Sure, some of us try to ignore them or do too much of one or more of them, but in the end we’ll do all 5. Our biology ensures that this will be. That’s it. The 5 requirements of mammalian life, and it appears that it applies to all forms of life that we know of.

Most of us will find that even if the 5 are satiated and no more difficult to acccomplish than opening our eyes each morning, something else is missing. Something else needs to be done. Those 5 just simply are not enough.

Not necessity, not desire – no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything – health, food, a place to live, entertainment – they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was a fairly smart guy. What could that demon be? How are your demons today? What is true must be true for the best of us and the least of us. That demon has to be able to affect all of us, from the greatest human to the lowest worm. Thought of it yet? Think harder. Fear. Fear is the demon. Fear that we will not accomplish one of the 5 requirements now or in the future. Our biology drives us this way. It tells us to be afraid, makes us react whenever something, at its core, will stop us from doing one or more of those 5 things for too long. There it is, the five laws and the only demon we all share. Think about it for a bit. All the rest of human society and culture is based on these things, built up layer upon layer of complexity until we no longer recognize it. So many layers of complexity that we have thought ourselves more than animals for a long time, looking down upon those that do the five with much greater efficiency than ourselves.

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So many are sure that the world, that life is an illusion yet you are certain that your world and your life are real. Your mind will tell you many things in your life. That inner voice, your subconscious twin. It will tell you what beauty is, what it is not and it will tell you that the limb you used to have is still there. Can you truly know that it’s missing or not if your mind tells you so stealthily? Your mind interprets all the data that it can find and tells you what the world is, what society is, and what they are not. Who are you talking to when you talk to yourself. Who answers back when you reflectively seek answers to problems in this illusion of life? Do you have a twin inside your mind?

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When you tell yourself that you’ve done the best you can for today do you hear a reply? There is much to think about. Will both of you agree on what the answers are? Will you both even conclude that there are answers? If there are no answers, then what? What if the big questions have no answers? Oh, there’s that demon again. Now the argument with your twin begins in earnest. One of you dared ask “why are we here?”, “For what purpose are we here?” The wisest among us end such argument with the simple thought that it does not matter, here we are and here we will remain until someone figures out how to change that. The luckiest among us never ask the questions, they simply get on with the business of being. Once we ask our twin that kind of question all sorts of mayhem follows.

We worship ideals that we have deified, accepting the wisdom of this illusion because our ideal dictates to us what we must need do, how it is that we make sense of the world we cannot be part of. No, you are your mind and it will never touch or taste or smell the world around you. It does not have those abilities. It simply crunches data and models the world around you. Sure it has sensors but your mind will never know what a rose smells like, really know. It will never know the color of a juicy apple, never really know. All it, all that you will ever know is an approximation of what the world is like. You and your twin are trapped inside a skull. Yes, it is _your_ skull but it’s no better than any other skull. It just happens to be the one wrapped around the brain that your mind is in, that you are in.

You will never be closer to the world than some electrical signals tell you that you are. If we live in a simulation you will never know because whether it’s a simulation or just nerves bringing you sense data, your brain will interpret that data as reality. When you have a ‘reality’ the game begins. By the time you were 2 years old the game had begun. The day you were born, not so much.

It’s a game. Complex, scary, difficult. Still, it’s just a game. It’s the only game there is. Even that is complex for you can create a game within the game, play by your own rules in that part and by the other rules in other parts. The rules get complicated, layer upon layer of rules. What if you don’t want to play? What if you want to simply be? Can you step outside the game? Can you stop playing and still meet the 5 requirements? What would it be like to be outside the game?

Oh, that’s a lot of questions for you and your twin to talk about. I wonder what answers you’ll come up with? I wonder if you’ll share them here?

To help you and your twin to think about them, here’s Bill

Lonely?

There are times when we find ourselves alone. Those times are judged not by how we survive it but by how we relish in it. We are born alone, we walk alone, and we will die alone for no other can be in our minds with us. For me this is a deeply held belief, a mantra, a reality check.

Oh, we all have the voice inside us that we talk to so we’re never really alone. The two people in your head are always together, like twins sharing the same thoughts. Just the same, life will leave us in a state where we are alone. From inside our heads, away from the world – outside of it, the world is just a game. When I am alone I am the only one in existence, the only reality. The rest of it? The rest of it can burn and I’m bringing marshmallows.

Let It Burn

I’ve walked a long way and for a long time, across scorched earth. Keeping myself warm on the dying embers of the world around me. My voice and I have run amok, just to be there to watch the fire burn. It doesn’t  matter what’s burning, it doesn’t matter what some think it’s worth. Burn it must because it’s just a game. From this side of the fire I’ve never met anyone else. I’ve been alone here for eternity.

I’ve been searching for someone, anyone but gave up, fearing there were none to be found. Here, in this place, a person has to have matches and be ready to make smores. Entertainment is free if you’re a pyro. Let it burn. Still, I found someone here amongst the embers and flames.

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Now there is a third voice. I no longer walk completely alone. It might kill me but I like the company here among the embers.

Who in your world sees the embers of it burning? Who in your world would light the world on fire to keep you warm? Who in your world could banish the cold and lonely, drink a toast with you and watch it burn? Who in your world is that third voice, faint as it might some days seem? No third voice? Let it burn.

Life Before Death? There is only life. It All Ends At Death.

Those of you who have read my ‘about me’ page know that “Sometimes I think the way I see the world is perhaps worth writing down.”

That view of the world is as present as ever when I read the posts of other bloggers. I want to know what they wrote and why they wrote it. It tells us something about them, or likely does. One of my favorite theist bloggers is Franks Cottage. His writing is different than a lot of theistic writings. He seems to stay on the positive perspective side of the debate. That he is a theist does not meant that I don’t find cause to stop and think when he writes. That said, Frank has posted recently on life before and after death focusing on the before part from his Christian perspective. Reading that gave me a few thoughts that I’d like to share here:

The entirety of his post is included and quoted but reformatted a bit for ease here.

I guess there are some atheists out there who believe that people of faith are just gritting their teeth and tolerating this nauseating existence before going on to unending glory in the life to come. But from my perspective as a follower of Jesus (whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son), atheists and Christians have “life before death” as a common belief. Let me make this as clear as possible: while life after death is of supreme importance, life BEFORE death is just as significant. How can I write that? Consider these words of Jesus, recorded in a section of the Bible called ‘John’: “I came to give life—life that is full and good.” He’s not talking about life after death; He’s talking about life RIGHT NOW. So what does that mean?

This premise is a promise that, as we’ll see, is not a promise of a wonderful life of prosperity

1.  Life becomes full and good because you’ve join a worldwide movement of believers. So you don’t have to make a go of it solo. You can attend a church, read the Bible, regularly pray with (and for) others and support each other through good times and bad.

This indicates that Christians don’t want to do this life on their own, can’t do it on their own. They have to have social intereactions which echo their own beliefs and actions. There is nothing here that could not be accomplished in an Atheist church, outside of praying and which books you read. So here we see Christianity fulfilling basic human wants rather than doing something special this part is a requisite part of human social interaction. Nothing special here. You’d get much the same if you belonged to a D&D club.

2.  Life becomes full and good because you have a new power that helps you set aside the meaningless, superficial priorities of our culture and focus on what’s truly important. So you are put on a path to stop worrying about whether you have a new car, the latest smartphone and the biggest flat-screen TV. You stop looking to your mate or your friends to give you happiness because you realize that happiness comes through following Jesus.

Here is a claim of a ‘new power’ that has no evidence for it. A power which most atheists seem to have or can have, I know I do. So this power being promised is not supernatural nor necessarily derived from a holy text. It’s just humans thinking in one way vs. a different way. That last bit where ‘You stop looking to your mate or your friends to give you happiness …’ is very interesting. You don’t need a god for this or a church or holy text. If you can’t manage this on your own a therapist can help you. This is not a special gift from a god, it is simply good and reasonable thinking. You do not and should not need a god to do this.

3.  Life becomes full and good because you have a pathway to becoming truly generous. It’s no longer about getting a charitable tax break or seeking something in return when you give. It’s about being Christ’s ambassador in a world most of us are willing to admit isn’t doing very well.

Ahh, the old giving altruistically bit. Being religious does not make you charitable or good. Spend a couple of minutes searching for atheist charity on the Internet and you’ll see the folly of this #3 item. In fact, #3 here is rather insulting to those charitable non-believers.

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4.  Life become full and good when you realize that the 70-odd years most of us spend on this planet is merely a blip in time compared to the eternity Christ followers have in Heaven with Jesus. The blessing of that perspective means we no longer have to put so much stake in every good or bad thing that happens to us in this life. We see the bigger picture and it changes everything.

There it is, life is good because there is a promise of eternal life afterwards. Live this life for Jesus so you can live forever at his feet worshipping him and his pappa. That is, unless there is something wrong in that heaven and you want change, then you’ll get cast out. Going to heaven has not been shown to be a one way ticket and it’s hard to imagine what being there would be like if all your loved ones or friends are in hell being tortured for eternity by the very god you worship. This promised next life needs to be approached with logic and trepidation. The promise sounds good but you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, for a reason.

5.  Life become full and good because you realize that Jesus died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. So the burden of guilt and shame is lifted from you; God sees you as He sees His Son: perfect in every way.

Well now, for this part you have to believe that this Jesus existed and died. It’s hard to come to grips with the fact that most of us do things which are not good at some point. Living with that requires a bit of thinking and attitude adjustment. The Christian’s like Frank think they can absolve themselves of responsibility and guilt by believing a story which says they are forgiven and will even get a reward while their friends and family are roasted in hell for eternity. Sounds selfish to me. Oh, I know. Frank and others are trying to share the free trip to heaven with us. I don’t know about you but I’m a little suspicious of the get out of jail free card given because I believe in the very god who built the jail just to torture me with if I don’t love him. It all seems a bit suspicious. One might stop to ponder at this point how well cows are treated before they are slaughtered for meat. They’ve been taught to trust their human masters who have made life easy for them, keep them healthy, feed them and so on… that small walkway to the new barn is not the stairway to heaven.

Now I’m not going to sugar-coat this and claim followers of Jesus float on a cloud of bliss. In another part of ‘John’, Jesus tells His followers “In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” That means the world doesn’t automatically have the final say on your life. If you decide to follower Jesus, then HE has the final say. And that final say is glorious.

There it is, let me translate: This life is going to suck, sometimes it’s really going to suck. Your 2 year old might even be diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not to worry, if you believe in Jesus you’re promised a full and good life and there is the church to lean on when your mind can’t find the necessary impetus to even walk, they’ll support you and pray for you … and your child is still going to die of cancer before he can be saved by Jesus but hey, at least in the next life you’ll be worshipping the god that killed your kid and doomed him to eternal torture. That, that makes all the suffering worth it, don’t you think?

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How Are Your Demons Today?

You have stopped by and said hello to them today, right? You probably should have if you did not. They can’t live without you and if you know they exist you can’t live without them.

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Demon: an evil spirit or devil, especially one thought to possess a person or act as a tormentor in hell.

We usually do not think of demons as something we are responsible for. They instead are responsible for our bad behavior, bad luck, bad life. People talk about inner demons or personal demons as a way of saying that we are responsible for them, yet we are not responsible because it was the demon that made us do that thing or the other thing.

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NOTE: There are habits we cannot easily control. If you have a substance related problem, that ‘demon’ is not just in your head. You will need professional help to get rid of it in all probability.

That warning is not to say that those who smoke can’t get rid of the habit without help or, for that matter, other addictions. Some people are stronger or more desperate than others. Such things vary from person to person. I don’t want to talk about those types of situations. Those situations are not simply in your head, there is a physical component that you cannot will to go away. Our brains are amazing but it is simply not a switch that you can turn on and off at will when there is a chemical component to your bad thinking. It should be noted that monkeys, dolphins, and in fact many mammals [1] [2] [3] have a penchant for using substances to experience an altered reality.

If you want to know what it takes to kill a bad habit with physical components, stop eating for 3 days. Drink water, get lots of sleep but do not eat. That will show you what a physical addiction can be like.

The astute among you will ask “if those people can have physical conditions why can’t mine be a physical condition?” and you are right to ask that. All these ‘personal demons’ have a common component – how we think and the behavior we exhibit based on how we think.

Do other people see your demons as harmless or pretty? Do they think you might be silly?

If your demon is harmless or pretty, is it really a demon? It is if it stops you from being the person that you wan to be. Let’s think about this for a minute. Without much effort I’ve talked about demons like they are an entity and not a thought pattern in your head or a behavior based on thoughts in your head. Let’s stop talking about them like they are external entities. Let’s stop laying the blame for our bad luck or bad lives on something that is not us.

Let’s not talk about major life issues or physical issues as demons. The demons we want to talk about are the small ones, the little buggers you keep tripping over as you go through life.

What people tend to call their demons are thought patterns or behavior patterns which they do not find easy to change and which bring them bad luck, bad life, bad fortune. Those demons are actually us. We are those demons despite something in us not wanting to be those demons. It is when we are tired of the demon that we change. Some might say “well, I don’t know how to change” and there is more than a grain of truth to that. Many of us form our bad thought patterns (and subsequent behavior patterns) based on the only frame of reference that we know – our lives. When our entire life has been filled with those bad thinking patterns and bad behavior patters just how is it that we are supposed to change?

This can quickly get off on the wrong garden path, so stay with me. We are not responsible for what other people do. We cannot change the past. If your bad thinking is based on one or both of those I have something to tell you. We can only be responsible for what we do ourselves. We can only change how we react to things in this moment. The past and the future are outside what we can change. We can only change how we act in this moment. Did that sink in? You can only be who you are in this moment. If you choose to be brave, this moment does not have to be based on anything in your past nor anything others think of you whether they actually do or you just worry that they do.

Most people are in some way afraid of their demons. I say this is exactly the wrong way to look at it. Grab your demon by the hand every day, dance, dance till you know their every move. Learn to lead the demon.

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The continuous dance with your ‘demons’

You can learn to lead your demon if you truly want to be the dominant partner in the dance. When you refuse to dance, dance you will but the demon leads. But how are you to lead your demons? First you must know them, intimately. Not what they want you to think but what they don’t want you to think of them. You have to recognize when they are trying to lead, and change the tune.

Hey MAL, that’s all good to put in a blog but how does that help me?

When you lead the dance, the movements are yours, even when it appears the demon is leading in those times when you choose to let your bad thinking lead. We grow up and many of us learn bad thinking from people that we trust and there is no certain way to learn new habits or forget the past learning. It’s not like one day you wake up and know how life is supposed to be and all the bad thinking is suddenly gone. No, like it was as you were a child, such learning takes time and practice. Time and practice.

Hey MAL, how am I supposed to get time and practice?

Every day, your ‘personal demons’ will come to dance. When they arrive, practice. Time happens on it’s own.

But what do I practice?

Do exactly what your demon doesn’t want. Soon you’ll see small victories, then larger, and before you know it you’ll have forgotten all about that demon. You know what your demon wants or you would not have compartmentalized it to a demon. All you have to do is treat that behavior or thought pattern as if it would kill you or make you deathly sick. When you are more afraid of giving in to the demon than what the demon might have you do, it will not be long before you forget the demon altogether.

Reflection and honest assessment of what displeases you about your behavior (your demon) is required. Sometimes that is kind of nasty. Do it anyway. If you can’t be honest with yourself that demon will never leave. Practice long enough and you’ll see that demon trying to get back into your life. Once you’ve gotten rid of them it’s not hard to keep them at bay.

Hey MAL, what should I tell others about my demons?

Don’t do that. It’s a personal war you have to wage. Sure, you might seek therapy help but your therapist will not dance with your demons, only you will. Therapists offer help and guidance but you still have to do the dancing no matter how much you pay the therapist.

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There are things which cannot be mitigated by desire to fight them however all of us dance with the demons that can be. You are strong enough to change your behaviors. When you find that you simply can’t do so, seek help. Most of our troubles are just a matter of how we dance with the demons. Even for those whose demons are not imagined but physical, they deal with the imagined demons too. The imagined demons can be beaten. You can change your behaviors. You can do what the demons don’t want you to do. In this case, what does not kill you does make you stronger when you are dancing and trying to take the lead.

Now, get up and dance!

Something Rather Than Nothing … What Would Moses Say?

This might simply be a side note on an otherwise huge debate regarding the subject of this post but I would like to share a few thoughts about that

That video shows imagery which were built from actual photographs taken by space craft that we humans have sent out into the solar system. Apparently a creator god made Ceres too.  Go on, watch that video again. There is a dwarf planet in our solar system that looks just like this (nearly). Why did it need to be created? Why did it need to be pummelled with asteroids so many times. Why would it need to have water on it? What was the creator’s plan for this rock that might have more fresh water than Earth does.

Ceres is not the only body begging these questions.

If you read the holy books of Earth’s religions none of them address this. None of them predicted humans getting up close photographs of these space bodies or even landing craft on them. Since the dawn of modern science we have been living beyond the grasp of anything in those holy books. You may be reading this post on your phone, even watching the video on your phone. In your hand is more technology than could even be dreamed of in the stories of the holy books.

What is the creator god’s position on bioethics? Is it okay to eat meat grown in a lab? Is it okay to grow new body parts and then graft them on to our bodies? Is it okay to augment our bodies to make them better than his supposed design? Is it okay for us to change our diets to improve our cognitive abilities? Is it okay to use nuclear energy to provide energy for the survival of humans? There are thousands more questions that the holy books cannot and will not answer. Everything that any believer has to say about the modern world is simply interpretation to try to make it fit into the ideals of the ancient world. I’d be willing to bet that if we had a time machine nobody would go back to 500 bce to bring someone to this day to work on cars, and with good reason. Why do we keep bringing books from that time to our current day thinking they will fix our problems? I know that was not the best analogy but the point stands.

What would be Moses’ take on images of Ceres or Pluto? Could or should we expect anything cogent if he could answer?

What do you think Moses would make of our technology, the technology that we take for granted?

I’m Tired Of This Bullshit

Here it is, watch the full glory of it, then let’s talk about it. I have some experience with McKinney Texas. Full disclosure, I live in McKinney.

Nobody got tased, nobody was shot, there were no riot police, nobody was beaten. There are no signs of abusive physical behavior.

I know about McKinney Texas. It ranks in the top ten places to live for as many years. These people (black and white and hispanic) are among the most coddled people on the planet. The live in one of the best places of one of the best countries on the entire planet. You might argue but it would be pointless. These people have the lives of the most privileged on the planet. The poor people in McKinney Texas are hispanic. These black people involved live in very affluent neighborhoods. This is one of the last places you will see white on black crime or even black on anything crime. There is no crime in McKinney Texas except for personal property theft/damage. It is nearly utopian in many ways. These people are coddled and treated as though they deserve it.

That is not to say that nobody in McKinney ever has a bad opinion or ever gets hard done by. It is to say that McKinney _IS_ one of the top 5 places in the top country to live on this planet and that doesn’t happen with racist cops running loose. Kids are kids. They aren’t always very smart. In the video you see some actually running from cops. This action is NEVER a good idea. If you simply talk to them they will not have reason to worry or handcuff you or detain you. The video shows the police acting very civil toward anyone not being uncooperative.

You can find videos of several people telling the world (including the girls cousin) that this is not about race. It’s about teens behaving badly and showing zero respect for the police. I have met and talked to several of the police officers here. They are genuinely nice people even if their view of the world is skewed necessarily by their job responsibilities.

Toward the end of the video you see that the cop is not holding her down. He did so only as long as it was needed. I won’t argue that he did not appear or seem aggressive but I don’t think he reacted more than was called for in the situation. He was called to the scene because a fight was reported… actual violence was what he was there to respond to.

It does not matter what color you are. If you want to run your mouth and show disrespect to a man amped up on adrenaline with a gun then bad things can happen. Watch how many people were told to simply go away or go home and did not listen.

Being that I live in McKinney I know that this party was not just at the pool. It started the night before. There were drugs involved (big deal, meh) and sex among the teens and all the reckless party stuff you can imagine goes with end of school antics. The real problem is that these teens (color does not matter here) showed no respect for the community, other people, security, or the cops. What do you think is going to happen when you mouth off at a policeman? That policeman will do what he is trained to do… control the situation in order to protect others. That fucking stupid teen girl ran her mouth off at a man with a gun and a butt load of adrenaline. She should be arrested just for being stupid.

There is no race problem in McKinney. My friends are free and feel free to talk about racial issues. My friends and neighbors are a different color than me, my golf buddies are a different color than me. There are no race problems in McKinney Texas except for the problem of some few individuals wanting to call this a race problem. It isn’t. This is just teens showing no respect for anyone and getting taught a lesson in how to communicate with police officers.

The community of McKinney Texas is quite an awesome and good community. It has built a community based on diversity through equal treatment. The biggest problem that I’ve seen is drug use in the high schools. There is very little crime, very little racial anything. To think this is a racial incident is to completely NOT know McKinney Texas.

Why Praying Is Hard

It used to be easy for me when I believed that it did something useful. Then I wondered why an omniscient creator god needed to hear from me to guide his perfect plan. Then I wondered why his perfect plan included so much pain and suffering in the world. Then I learned statistics.

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On any given day there will be a sizable portion of the population of which it can be said “it sucks to be you.” It’s hard to remember that when it’s my day to have a sucky life. These days are the ones that I used to pray about. It never did any good. Sometimes, drinking few fingers of Scotch and playing with my dogs makes it better. Some days there is nothing for it but a few aspirin and more sleep than normal.

In the end, no matter what your philosophical position is, none of us have it all figured out. Some days or weeks just suck, badly.
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When that happens, I try to meditate, relax, remind myself that it will pass because it will pass. I’m not talking about first world problems or fears about imaginary things. I’m talking about real life that grabs me and shakes me and won’t let go till I somehow figure out how to solve the problem. Without a solution at hand it often enough feels like a good scotch and some tearful moments will fix things. Perhaps even an attempt to ignore them will do it. Sadly, nothing like that really works.

Instead of prayer I sit and talk with myself. Amazingly there is a sound thinking part of me willing to have the conversation. I complain and that other part of me tells me it’s just one of those days so buck up sunshine, till you do something nothing will change. It would be nice to have a skydaddy that would fix it all for me but there is none. Even when I pretended there was, it was me that did all the hard work.
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If I can do this anyone can. I’m juggling 153 things at once and I just want to put some of them down. No such luck. I just have to soldier on. Writing this is not helping me do any of them but it is allowing me to have that internal conversation that I need. Do a few more things tonight, wake up, shower, do some more of them. Keep doing that till there is room to breathe or sleep. That is all I have. It’s the only plan I’ve got. The weight on my shoulders will not go away till I shed it myself. Praying would not fix it. In fact, praying would be no more effective than me writing this post.

That’s how this nihilist anti-theist does it.

How do you deal with shitty days?

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