Connection, worthiness, shame, shame, shame! (and Fugazi)

Here’s a very popular TED talk, a story that continues to be re-told by all kinds of people – spiritual gurus, coaches, bartenders, artists, blah-ggers. She’s not a wizened wise woman, she’s kinda Top-40, looks like Martha Stewart (but didn’t have to go to prison to have a breakdown or learn humility) but she nails the talk. She speaks to the obsessive perfectionists among and within us, who don’t want to explore any sticky childhood stuff in our pasts before we moved away, broke away, changed our names, to the Successful Self who just want “the tools, the strategies,” the instant cure to take away the pain of failure or feeling lame.

Brene Brown on vulnerability, connection, worthiness, shame

If, after you watch this TED talk from 2010, and you want 20 more minutes of Mrs. Brown two years and 10 million hits later, check it out.  She gets deeper into the differences between guilt and shame. You know: “I’m sorry because I made a mistake” vs. “I’m sorry I am a mistake”  & If we’re waiting to take a risk until we’re “bulletproof and perfect,” we’ll be waiting for ever.

 

 

 

 

Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness – award for musician Michael Angelakos

Thanks to Shawn Amos, Stereogum and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Clinics, we get to hear a nice speech by the singer of the band Passion Pit. Hear the speech and watch a video of how Michael Angelakos lives with bipolar disorder, which he and his wife regard as “an uninvited guest” and greet it with “hard work, humility and humor.”

He’s grateful to be alive, to have love, and to be an artist: “I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than taking pain and anger and confusion – all that Life gives everyone, really, and turning it into something beautiful and fun and engaging.”

 

The DIY Couturier’s “21Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed.”

This was passed to me by a patient, and I really appreciated it, so I’m sharing here…

Rosalind Robertson’s blog on Esquire 21 Tips and MORE 

(I HAVE RE-EDITED THIS TO CORRECT FOR MY ASSUMPTION OF THE AUTHOR’s GENDER in ESQUIRE, a “Men’s” Magazine)

The author repeats lots of truths about exercise, diet, dressing to impress one’s self — the things we can’t hear too many times. She also suggests facing a window whenever possible, to never stop looking out and observing life. I enjoy thinking of how the writer has heard these platitudes, gathered them, wrote them down, related to them, threw out some of them, made them his own.  She’s got a sassy way of responding to annoying “Happy people” who pester us to Try Harder, because if we’re depressed, we must not be trying hard enough, and all we need is to obey their pep talk.

So, whether or not it’s because I tell you too or not, “Have a nice day!”

 

A giant human reason to hug a Comic-Depressive today

Screen shot 2013-02-25 at 10.21.58 PMI am seriously fascinated by comedy. I am not alone in being afflicted with a love of humor to the point of very unfunny over-analysis. I’m sure there are others out there who wonder about what’s so funny about funny, and how come Funny blossoms from the shit of Sad. I’ve been lucky to meet some of these people, connoisseurs and nerds,  and have learned so much from them. I haven’t met Patton Oswalt, but two of my friends have, and they made a beautiful 10 minute film profile of him, called “To Be Loved and Understood.” Click here and watch it. Then come back and read the rest.

It is kinda funny that the one thing that makes you maybe more perceptive, and maybe more funny, also makes you much more vulnerable and thus not as successful as a human being in so many ways. — Patton Oswalt

Once, I got to ask James Hillman why not enough has been written on Soul in comedy. While I asked him this sincere question, John Cleese was sitting in the same audience I was. I was pretending to not know this, hoping to impress the Python, to provoke something amazing to happen, maybe an impromptu skit-jam by which we would murder the crowd, together — John Cleese, Jim Hillman, and me… Hillman’s head darted to Mr. Cleese, who sat impassive, lost in his own space/time oasis, pondering fine wines, or maybe locked in a depressive fugue. The great depth psychologist drily answered me what I already knew — that writing seriously about humor is too difficult, just doesn’t work, takes all the fun out of it… The moment passed, nobody laughed. I wasn’t hoisted up on anyone’s shoulders, I sat back down, just the way most of life goes.

I have found a way to try and make sense of my life in a way that makes people laugh and gets me attention and makes me feel better about myself...There could not be a more basic human need right there: to be loved and understood… And I just try and recreate it again and again.    — Patton Oswalt

It’s not a revolutionary idea that comic genius is often borne of pain, sadness, feeling lame, getting revenge, etc. There’s an endless number of examples of comics and comedians who embody this. I’m not going to make a full roll-call here, because that story can sometimes lead to very sad and depressing stories that end in suicide or in Nutty Professor movies.

What’s become clear is that many comics and comedians working today wear their depression or anxiety on their sleeves. Yet, some don’t or can’t. Seinfeld doesn’t do that so well.  Will Ferrell (from Irvine) is reputedly very straight, un-weird and happy in real life. Sarah Silverman’s not depressed dark, but she did grow up as a bedwetter. Tig Nataro is a heroic cancer (and family) survivor and her champion Louis CK is everyone’s favorite cuddly curmudgeon.  Mark Marron is making anxiety and depression his whole thing, even playing therapist parlor games with anyone down for a Naked Lunch. There was an article in the LA Times a few years back about how the Laugh Factory put on its payroll an on-call psychotherapist to be available for the comics who worked there; Paul Rodriguez was interviewed for that article. ******** The man of the hour today is Patton Oswalt, who lays down some serious science in the film “To Be Loved and Understood.” Watch it to see how Julien Nitzberg badgers and bullies him to cry in his hotel room, and regret making the film, which is beautifully shot by Ross Harris. (Just kidding, Julien).

It’s very comforting for me to try and look at these terrible decisions I make…the profound limits of my intelligence and empathy and then try to relate it to a much bigger thing in life and maybe not feel so alone.  That maybe you’ll go “It’s not just me doing this, it’s a whole giant human reason that this thing is going down.”       — Patton Oswalt

 

Learn to orbit. Become the world’s audience. Don’t be a bitter baby.

A NY Times Opinion piece (click HERE) by philosopher Brian Jay Stanley re-discovers the necessity for a Copernican revolution of the self which demands the re-relativizing of one’s place in the universe… You know, the same old thing.

I enjoy pieces like this, that start out with a witty pull toward desperation, and finish with a balanced wisdom of the ages.  He’s put upon by life, annoyed at his insignificance in the scheme of things. I’m tempted to say he “somehow” finds peace, or poetically trips onto pretty words of truth.  His awareness is much more studied, though. After looking at his website, I find Stanley’s wisdom is earned through toil and hard looking, deep reflection and sometimes scary reverie. He brings to mind David Foster Wallace, which brings up lots of sadness for me, and some of the cutting performer/comics like Lenny Bruce or Louis C.K., George Carlin and the best stand-up yet, F. Nietzsche.

If you’re not going to read the whole piece, at least dig the penultimate paragraph:

Society is adroit at disillusioning newcomers, and many self-assured children grow up to be bitter adults. But bitterness, instead of a form of disillusionment, is really the refusal to give up your childhood illusions of importance. Ignored instead of welcomed by the world, you fault the world as blind and evil in order not to fault yourself as naïve. Bitterness is a child’s coddling narcissism within the context of an adult’s harsh life. Instead, I know that the world only tramples me as a street crowd does an earthworm — not out of malice or stupidity, but because no one sees it. Thus my pain is not to feel wrongly slighted, but to feel rightly slighted.

So today if I can muster the joy, I’ll have gratitude as my attitude. Today, I’ll try not to be so bitter. Today, my narcissism will be that of an adult, not a baby’s. Today, I’ll remember to (as someone stenciled on the wall by the Silver Lake Reservoir) “Laugh at this experience.” Today I’m going to be the audience, and enjoy the show.

Looking and seeing…

Your arm isn’t long enough to make the newspaper legible. You buy a new lamp because there’s got to be something wrong with the one you have. Your bedroom’s getting darker, maybe autumn is early?

Adults get old and our eyes get older. You need reading glasses, so you get yourself a pair, and they sit by the bed, or in your pocket, or get left everywhere else than where you are when you need to read something.

Besides collecting pairs of reading glasses (or monocles for the steam-punkers) adults of a certain age also gain the right to another kind of vision-enhancers: the rose-colored glasses. They come in all shapes and sizes, and get lost just as often as your readers but they do come in handy, so if you don’t have some already, pick some up. You’ve earned the right to look a little ridiculous, and to see things better than they actually are. You don’t want to wear them everywhere, but you need them handy, in case you get caught up like Brian did…

Watch out, that Secret can make your fingers sticky!

The other day I was at Staples, sending a fax. I’d brought my daughter along, and she was admiring the cameras while I waited in line to pay a little more than two dollars. As I waited, I recalled the scene in the 1972 film Paper Moon where the 9 year old girl and her partner pulled a con on a saleslady.

The man pays with a large bill, which was marked on the back “Happy Birthday Addie.” When the girl comes later to pay for her candy, she pays with a 5-spot, and gets her $4.75 change. As she counts her change, she tells the lady that she’s been short-changed, that she’d paid with a 20 dollar bill. The saleslady corrects the girl, the girl cries and creates a noisy scene. The manager comes and digs out the 20 which Addie tearfully tells him has her name on it, which he sees, and commands the saleslady to give her $19.75 and another piece of candy.

As I was waiting for my change for the 20 I gave the very nervous, very young cashier, Paper Moon playing in my mind, I idly wondered, “What if this guy thought I gave him a 50 dollar bill? It would be so cool to come up on some extra free money, buy my daughter something…” I watched him count me out $47.22 in change, “–and 22 cents makes 50. Thanks and have a nice day — Next!”  I walked away, stunned, counting the money. The receipt showed I’d given him a 50, I was instantly a much richer man.

And suddenly I was a bad man. A magical and manipulative man! A dangerous Secret-wielding man, using the law of attraction to come up on some cash and possibly get a kid fired from his new job. There he was with brand new Dickies, a stiff black belt, creases still in his uniform shirt, sweat on his pimply brow, probably his first day. He was clueless to his mistake, and helpless to my power.

I gathered my girl, and told her to watch her daddy save a guy’s job and Do The Right Thing (in righteous capital letters).  He was grateful, but smart enough to keep it low profile. I wonder if he’d ever seen a 50 dollar bill in his life, when was the last time and aren’t they kind of odd? And where do you put the 50’s and the 100’s in the register? Under the change drawer, with the checks, as I remember — so what the hell was he thinking? Apparently whatever I wanted him to think.

I had inadvertently attracted money I actually wanted into my life, but in a way I did not know I was capable.  It would have been evil — or at least sleazy — of me to keep the money, and I believe would have only attracted more misery, later. I’m glad I didn’t have to keep it as a dirty little secret. I wouldn’t have been able to share the con here with you, but only with the shadiest of my friends in the criminal underworld, where my daughter and I would have undoubtedly tail-spun down into…

So watch out for what you ask for, and keep track of what you believe in, cause what you ask for could fall into your hands in the weirdest way, when you least expect it.

Knowing where things are

A wise man recently told me a story which required a close telling of his daily routine, and in passing mentioned he shaves in the shower. Being a wise man, I thought he would give me a great recommendation on one of those cool in-the-shower mirrors that don’t fog up, so I asked him, so I could get what wise men have. He goes, “Bah! I don’t need a mirror, I know where everything is.” I don’t remember the rest of his story, but I got that I needed to pay more attention to knowing where things are.

“ain’t enough raised right men!”

It may be too late to change how you were raised, but singing about it helps.

Be one, find one, honor one, imitate one, collect some – Raised Right Men! Clap along or wave your hands around with Tom Waits (and his son, Muddy Waters’ son, and David Hidalgo) and every day can be (Happy) Father’s Day. Heavens to Murgatroid!

 

A Splendid View

“Natural disasters continue, and the country is socially confused. But it is at times like these that you need a splendid point of view. Though the world is facing difficulties, there are many people who try to find pleasure in life and make efforts to create a future with a new vitality.”

Though the country she is talking about is her native Japan, artist Yayoi Kusama challenges us to have “a splendid point of view” towards a world we all share and which perplexes us. The artist’s renegade path has soared and careened on the edge of awareness, at both sides of the frontiers of sanity or wellness. In this New York Magazine interview, Kusama shows she is enjoying the benefits of a very active older-age and a wisdom we often hope it brings. I am inspired to value both the largeness and the shortness of life, the importance of seeing oneself as part of a necessary creative force in a crazy world, even if the world tells us we are the ones who are crazy and unnecessary, or failing…