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Sex, Drugs, and Tik Tok
(The Most Difficult Kid in the World)
We live in an attention economy where 'being seen' is more important than anything else. Parenting blogs are among the biggest winners in this car-crash reward system, so I thought I'd add to the canon and talk about the hardest kid to raise: Me.
None of you are in my head, so I'll break my fourth-wall to clarify: Mike Oppenheim is a whiny, insatiable baby, and he sucks. Seriously! It's no fun addressing the endless, self-serving commentary my piece of sh*t inner-child throws my way, all day, every day.
Worst of all, I didn't realize how difficult I was until my actual two-year-old demanded I get her “a toy for her toy." At first, I laughed, but then I saw how her insane thought was similar to most of my brain-noises as I get dressed, drive, and wait in lines.
"You're not where you want to be because you don't have X." "If you got Y, for X, then Z would happen." "But, X isn't possible unless you acquire B, and you may need C for that." "We need C! and D! If We accumulate these, then we'll get X, and we need X!"
The variables change so frequently that I can't dumb it down any further, but I'm sure you can replace them with your "real words" and quickly see how short-sighted and childish it is for any human to think that "acquisition" leads to "happiness."
Think about it. We don't “acquire” love or friendship, yet both make us happy, and we also don't “acquire” vacations and delicious meals. These are enablers of experiences that you don’t get to keep, and it’s the activity we actually value.
If you venture further into this philosophy, you'll probably agree that when we reflect on our lives, even “bad experiences,” with enough time, end up as “worth having,” and even traumatic events, if we use them for growth, are worth it. We like growing up!
I was thus sad when my precious Angel started apple-ing near her father tree. After all, if I could pick one thing to keep away from my kids, it wouldn't be sex, drugs, or even Tik Tok, it would be "desire," since that's the beast that's plagued me all my life.
Which returns us to my premise: Why I'm the most difficult child to raise (and so are you). Until about a month ago, I’ve been trusting my imagination and what I considered to be “reality,” but I wasn't thinking about something as I did this:
Reality doesn't exist.
Nope. It doesn’t. And it never has and it never will. And no, I'm not referencing The Matrix or what the Vedas call “Maya (The Grand Illusion).” I'm talking about reification, which is “Considering something abstract as a material or concrete thing."
I wish reify wasn't so weird sounding and hard to say, but it's a solid concept, and if you suffer from 'The Wants,' it's crucial to understand it if you want out (ha!). Indeed, every standard you have for “reality” was reified, by you, and that means it's not real.
For 30 years my dream was to make a living as an artist. That wasn’t unreasonable, but what was insane, for all those years, was attaching significance to the outcome of my goal, which is what happened when I reified that concept as an impressionable youth.
It's my nature to create, so I have to embrace that and do it, without expectations or certainty, yet I spent most of my life punishing myself by looking at my career goals as something I should only pursue if "the market" says I'm good at it.
Let me be very clear. After 30 years of relentless dedication to my dreams, I have learned, repeatedly, that I’m talented, but not marketable. I’ve been told this by record labels, literary agents, and even my favorite professor said it to me (as a compliment).
For years, I let this feedback devastate me, tying it into my sense of self-worth, and I even worried that I was being made fun of by my peers for thinking I deserved something I didn’t. That feeling sucked, but I have only myself to blame.
A month ago, (with help) I examined how I got into this mess and tied it to my childhood reification. Then I did what all good parents do when they see their kid making a correctable mistake: I told myself to find a new perspective, or a new career.
Next, I almost died from a severe case of the A-ha’s. I’d forgotten that I’m supposed to be having fun, not trying to be marketable, and there’s no exception to this rule. Life isn’t too short or too long, but it is too special to be taken seriously. That’s growing up!
If you’re not having fun, I can help! Assistance is an addictive drug and I’ve been hooked on it all my life. So, what is something you reified in your youth?, How does it affect you now?, And what can you do about it? Let me know how it goes!
This week on Coffin Talk: A Cult Survivor! Scott Homan was raised in Wisconsin and recorded two indie albums with his bands while being influenced by The Jehovah’s Witness cult [sic]. He left it and now runs Banana Island Films which has made an incredible documentary about his and other’s experiences as Jehovah’s Witness members. Witness Underground is available now online Please check it out listen here!