Life Does Not Work Like That.

DBAJI just got the very first copy of my forthcoming book Don’t Be A Jerk. It’s helping with my postpartum depression.

I have postpartum depression because I just finished writing an entirely different new book. You read that correctly, friends. Before my upcoming book has even been released to the public, I have already finished the next one. Plus I’ve got yet another other completed book sitting on my hard drive that I don’t know what to do with.

I meet a lot of people who ask me how to become a writer. Some of these people are serious and will eventually go on to write great stuff I’m sure. But most of them want to be A Writer without actually having to write anything. They want what they imagine to be the results of having a book published without putting the work into it.

I don’t think most of these folks get it. To me, being a writer is almost like having a disease like alcoholism. It’s a kind of compulsion. If I were to try to stop writing, I think it would be as hard for me to kick the habit as a heroin addict trying to quit smack. I go through withdrawals when I can’t write. This blog is often the result. You’re welcome.

If you don’t have that kind of an addiction, you can’t be a writer. And, honestly, you may be much better off. Because even if you do have the addiction there’s no guarantee you’ll get published. And even if you get published there’s no guarantee you’re gonna sell any books. And even if you do sell books, you could end up like me, making more from begging for donations than from book sales.

So when people ask me how to get started being a writer it’s almost like asking an alcoholic how to get started drinking. I end up advising most people to just say no.

Recently a very important person in my life, a guy who has been a valuable friend and mentor to me since I first met him when I was in second grade, got involved with someone who thinks she’s a chef. I’ll call him Rick* and her Kathy.

The problem is that Kathy is not a chef. She’s an OK cook. Not magnificent, but not bad. And because she enjoys cooking, she figures that makes her a chef.

She’s never done the work you need to do to earn the title “chef.” She went to cooking school, but flunked out. She’s had a couple jobs doing things like handing out samples at supermarkets and clerking at delis. None of which she’s kept longer than a few months. She has never taught a single cooking class, nor even so much as cooked for any more than 4 or 5 people at once.

But she has convinced Rick to sink all of his retirement money into building her a cooking school/catering business, where she intends to bequeath her vast knowledge of cookery upon masses of people she assumes will pay good money for her expertise.

Those of us who know Rick do not understand why he is unable to see the problem with this plan. Over Christmas I tried very hard to reason with him. But after lots and lots of frustration I got overheated and extremely angry. Whereupon my longtime mentor and friend kicked me out of his house.

Which, by the way, is in the middle of nowhere. See, Kathy also convinced Rick to move away from his longtime home in Akron out into the remote hinterlands of the southern Atlantic coastal region. Far away from all of his family and all of his friends, and far away from pretty much anyone who might try dissuading him from the whole cooking school thing. Where there will be lots of customers for their cooking school. I guess…

I had to hump all my stuff down a couple miles of swampy Deep South road with no sidewalks to find a place with cell phone reception and a gas station where they knew who to call for a cab. I spent about $250 for a long taxi ride and a night in a hotel near a regional airport. My back was so painful more than two weeks later that I had to go see a doctor.

Anyway. The problem with Kathy’s plan is that she, like lots of people who ask me about writing, imagines she can be a chef just because she imagines herself to be a chef.

Life does not work like that.

I feel like, in my capacity as a teacher of Zen, the thing I have to explain more than any other is that life does not work like that.

This is especially hard because it seems like what passes for “alternative spirituality” in this country today has been taken over by people promising (lying) that life does work like that. They get folks doing useless shit like making “vision boards” and visualizing themselves as enlightened or peaceful or balanced or whatever else they want to visualize themselves as.

This, of course, is far more attractive than telling people that if they want to make a change in their lives they actually have to put some effort into it. It’s why Don’t Be a Jerk will never sell in quantities like The Secret or other such pseudo-spiritual confectionery.

My struggles with Rick and Kathy seem to be a kind of mirror of the struggle to convince people that if they really want peace, equanimity, and all of that, these things are indeed available in this very lifetime, in this very body and mind, but that it is necessary to make real effort.

Rick absolutely refuses to admit he comprehends this. I don’t believe him. I believe he does comprehend it. He built up his own independent business and he understands intimately what he needed to do in order to make that happen. Yet even though he does understand that much, he appears to think that there must be cases where you get to be what you imagine yourself to be simply by imagining it.

I guess a lot of people have the same ideas when it comes to whatever they’re trying to achieve spiritually. I’ll leave aside, for the moment, that the very idea of “spiritual achievement” is a big roadblock. Yet we can say that if you compare someone’s life before they make real efforts to their life afterward you can see a difference. So if that’s how you define “achievement” then, OK. It can occur.

But if you want the achievements of pursuing a spiritual practice, you have to actually pursue that practice. You can’t just read about it. You can’t just cultivate it as a pose or an identity. You gotta get down in the grease pits and do the work.

You’re gonna get dirty. You’re gonna end up with a few bruises and burns. It’ll be difficult sometimes and you’ll wonder if it’s even worth doing at all.

But if you don’t do it at all, you’ll never know.

 

(* – Rick is not anyone you’ve read about in any of my books or on this blog.)

*  *   *

Registration is now OPEN for our Spring Zen & Yoga Retreat March 18-20, 2016 at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, Mt. Baldy, California

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Check out my podcast with Pirooz Kalayeh, ONCE AGAIN ZEN!

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I’ve got a new book coming out soon! Stay up to date on its release schedule, my live appearances and more by signing up for our mailing list on the contact page

UPCOMING EVENTS

February 28, 2016 Houston, Texas Houston Zen Center

March 5-6, 2016 Austin, Texas Austin Zen Center

March 9, 2016 El Paso, Texas Eloise Coffeeshop/Bar 7:00pm

March 18-20, 2016 Mt. Baldy, California SPRING ZEN & YOGA RETREAT

March 25, 2016 Venice, California Mystic Journey Bookstore 7:00pm

April 22, 2016 New York, New York Interdependence Project

April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”

September 16-17, 2016 Dublin, Ireland

September 22-25, 2016 Hebden Bridge, England

October 23-28, 2016 Benediktushof Meditation Centrum (near Würzburg, Germany) 5-Day Retreat

ONGOING EVENTS

Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!

Every Saturday at 10:00 am (NEW TIME!) there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info

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One of the main ways I make money while I write more books is through your donations to this blog. I won’t get any of the recent Angel City Zen Center fundraiser money. I appreciate your on-going support!

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75 Responses

Page 1 of 1
  1. Khru 2.0
    Khru 2.0 February 12, 2016 at 2:49 pm |

    There is nothing on God’s green Earth, even half as powerful as the nookie.

    “It has the original mouth but remains wordless;
    It is surrounded by a magnificent mound of hair.
    Sentient beings can get completely lost in it
    But it is also the birthplace of all the Buddhas of the ten thousand worlds.” – Ikkyu

  2. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs February 12, 2016 at 3:58 pm |

    Thank you for making me remember this scene.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxTRCPKFltE

  3. sri_barence
    sri_barence February 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm |

    “Kathy” sounds like one of those people who try to control and dominate their partner. Separate them from their family, their friends, control their money, cut them off from social contact, so that the controller becomes the center of the other person’s life. This seems like the sort of cliche abusive relationship one reads about in self-help books for abused women. Often physical or emotional abuse is part of the relationship as well.

    I hope things are not actually that bad, and that your mentor is able to extricate himself before the situation devolves into disaster.

  4. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 12, 2016 at 4:23 pm |

    What’s that old saying? Oh yeah:

    The road to Hell is paved with the best of intentions.

    1. Fred Jr.
      Fred Jr. February 13, 2016 at 4:13 am |

      … and the road to right intentions is paved with hell.

  5. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra February 12, 2016 at 4:31 pm |

    It’s the addiction of trying to connect with others.

    http://thelazytao.blogspot.com/2015/12/introduction-or-why-i-continue-to-write.html

    I like the Watts quote that begins the post.

    1. senorchupacabra
      senorchupacabra February 12, 2016 at 8:55 pm |

      I was looking through this guy’s other posts and this one was maybe more along the lines of one of Brad’s points:

      “Writing sucks. I don’t know why anybody would willingly pick up this terrible habit. Why wouldn’t you just smoke crack or shoot dilaudid? It would be a lot less painful. People would respect you more. While the drug addiction takes over your life, you at least have moments where you’re high and can get a sense of relief from the shithole your life has become. With writing, there is no relief. It’s a constant state of anxiety. What am I gonna write? How am I gonna get anybody to read it? What if they do read it and realize I’m fucking weird? Shit, I still gotta write. Am I even any good? Do you have to be good? There are plenty of shitty writers who make lots of money. Why can’t I?

      And there it is. That’s why we idiot-assholes willingly subject ourselves to this miserable disease. At some point we thought–foolishly, naively, egotistically–that writing would be a good way to make money. Most of us writers aren’t very good looking. We can’t sing. We aren’t athletic. How the hell else are we going to get famous?”

      He then spends hundreds of vulgar words shitting on Cormac McCarthy, but it’s all fairly entertaining.

      http://thelazytao.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-writing-disease-dissing-cormac.html

  6. AnneMH
    AnneMH February 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm |

    BTW I hate The Secret, vision boards, all of that. I really like Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright Sided about the other side of the positive thinking movement. I would totally send you a copy, things like companies that laid off lots of people and then sent .them to workshops to have positive attitudes and maybe a resume help

    My type of work is not glamorous, childcare and school based enrichment programs. I run into this a lot. People ‘like’ kids but then don’t have management skills. We had a lovely church come in and show a free movie to kids, and ended up yelling at some of them for normal kid but annoying behavior. So I know it isn’t writing (I have half a novel in a drawer, but I am not writing so I know that it is not going to get done with a vision board), but it is an area where people think they can do it because they have a warm fuzzy feeling for kids but are not willing to learn the skills.

    I am seeing this with meditation teachers and yoga teachers. I help facilitate a meditation group, I am not a trained teacher. Even just leading the group has been something I have done some training in and have support for. Still I am a peer leader, not a teacher, not an expert.

  7. Greg
    Greg February 12, 2016 at 5:13 pm |

    ““Kathy” is one of the ugliest people I have ever met in every possible way.”

    Man, I used to work with a woman named Kathy. She was way uglIER. She even had a big old mole on her cheek, like a witch. She also had the best sense of humour of anyone I ever worked with. I’d get off a shift with her and I’d be sore from laughing. Her husband was one of the foremen, and he hated working with her because she teased him unmercifully in front of the other staff. But they’re etched into my brain as one of the happiest couples I’ve ever met, and I hope they’re still so good-natured after all these years. There are some jerks out there though.

  8. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 12, 2016 at 6:09 pm |

    “Don’t Be A Jerk” -Don’t try to give your friends advice on how they should live their lives.

    Or anybody else for that matter.

    They’ll probably tell you…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rEsVp5tiDQ

    1. AnneMH
      AnneMH February 12, 2016 at 7:19 pm |

      When you see a friend getting into some serious trouble it is not so simple. What is keeping your mouth shut because we think that some rule of Buddhism is to always play nice and not speak, and when is it really the most skillful thing to do is speak up. One of the most skillful things I did was drop my daughter’s boyfriend at a homeless shelter. Woke him up and got him moving in a way that sleeping on my couch was not doing.

      So Buddhist does not mean watching someone go down the tubes while we sit by, watching a person we care for doing anything self destructive (drugs, drinking, shitty relationships) has no easy answers.

      1. Mumbles
        Mumbles February 12, 2016 at 8:38 pm |

        So now your couch is occupied by…who?

  9. Metasteve
    Metasteve February 12, 2016 at 6:11 pm |

    Preordered.

  10. Cy
    Cy February 12, 2016 at 7:31 pm |

    I really look forward to your book releases; you have a knack for explaining seemingly esoteric concepts in easy to understand ways, and you pepper your writings with new takes on things.

    I think it must be human nature when you consume something, whether it be music, story, film, etc., that if it is crafted well it sort of draws you in; and you want to do that thing too. I think your writing has this quality about it where its entertaining and well thought out; it also flows seamlessly in a way so it makes you think like hey I want to do that too, not really realizing that any trade worth it’s salt is going to take years and years of trial and error, failure etc befpre you can even get to a point where you are effective.

    Anyway cant wait for the book!

  11. billzant
    billzant February 12, 2016 at 7:46 pm |

    “If you don’t have that kind of an addiction, you can’t be a writer. And, honestly, you may be much better off. Because even if you do have the addiction there’s no guarantee you’ll get published. And even if you get published there’s no guarantee you’re gonna sell any books. And even if you do sell books, you could end up like me, making more from begging for donations than from book sales.”

    Spot on.

  12. billzant
    billzant February 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm |

    Rick loves Kathy, and Kathy is clinging – stubborn. Attachment. Life is like that. Getting between partners??

  13. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 12, 2016 at 8:54 pm |
  14. Harlan
    Harlan February 12, 2016 at 10:54 pm |

    Damn Brad.. You might not be the best person to judge what’s good and what’s not. Aren’t you the guy who goes around offending people by bringing gross food into their homes?

  15. drocloc
    drocloc February 12, 2016 at 11:44 pm |

    Hello,

    Ef’ em if they can’t take joke. IMHO

    Gassho

  16. french-roast
    french-roast February 13, 2016 at 2:50 am |

    A few weeks ago, something very similar happened to me, and I reacted just about the same way you did, with the same end result; they throw me out, and on their side the ‘status quo’ was maintained, which I feel will eventually lead to a complete disaster. I also had a very bad back pain for about 2 weeks. I reacted the way I did because like you I had deep respect and love for my mentor. (Isn’t it funny, it also involve one of my mentor)

    But I let it go! I did not wish to create a story over what is a story to start with, into which I would have attempted to make myself the hero, the one who is the good guy, the one who knows what is good and bad, that has more depth, etc. and all others either delusional or bad. The delusion and denial often comes from those stories that we build over situations (also stories) which we perceived as acceptable or unacceptable. Both you and your friend out of love, perceived the same situations but within mutually exclusive framework (stories). When what we perceive from does not cohere anymore with what we see, this engender dissonance and opens up a pre-existing split (existential wound?) within. The stories we make about ourselves, the world, or what the situation is or is not, are all kind of a contra buffer to this inner wound (blessing?). When we ‘get’ beyond the delusional quite mechanical device of the discriminative mind, we suffer even more intensely, that suffering has no face whatsoever, we have no grasp whatsoever onto ‘it’. You cannot even call it ‘suffering’. When people meet this no-face, they panic, they attempt at all cost to re-establish themselves as a center within a more or less stable situation, a story within a story, dust within a dust bowl.

    But then, there was never any kind of situation into which I was supposedly involved into. To view the world within a ‘mental’ framework where we see a self and situations as real and absolute is to condemned ourselves to endless suffering and perpetual conflicts. Think about it Brad, what is left in your mind of that situation : dust, mere puppets that you agitate in your mind and write about.

    Life does work like that!

  17. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon February 13, 2016 at 4:48 am |

    Most of these comments seem to have ignored the painfully obvious: Why would any intelligent, sane, and knowledgeable person take financial or career advice from Zen Master Brad? Personally, I’d rather take my chances with a vision board.

    1. Le Petit Canyon
      Le Petit Canyon February 13, 2016 at 5:52 am |
      1. The Grand Canyon
        The Grand Canyon February 13, 2016 at 7:55 am |
  18. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs February 13, 2016 at 8:58 am |
  19. Dogen
    Dogen February 13, 2016 at 9:58 am |

    I still don’t get the Hitler connection. Is Kathy a nazi?

  20. Wedged
    Wedged February 13, 2016 at 6:35 pm |

    I CAN’T WAIT…PRE-ORDERING…it’s like 2012 all over again for me when I discovered that Chapters (in a small Canadian city) had cool looking Buddhist books, I followed my gut and voila, here I still am counting down the days for the next book. First Creed, then StarWars and now Don’t be a Jerk…life is good.

    Oh and all negative comments have been auto filtered out, nothing but love.

    This is like the last scene in Force Awakens…but it’s Brad instead of…I won’t ruin it for the 2 people on the planet who haven’t seen it yet.

    Oh and who did the drawing/concept art for the cover? That alone is enough to make me buy the book.

    Everybody stop what you’re doing and make the world a better place by buying a copy.

  21. JohnKobeck
    JohnKobeck February 13, 2016 at 8:21 pm |

    Preordered the book last year. Can’t wait.

  22. french-roast
    french-roast February 14, 2016 at 1:32 am |

    ”………Finally, and most provocatively, Warner shows Dogen offering a Middle Way between the currently raging debate between science and religion. While Warner’s writings reach readers not often prone to such study, Warner’s book sales attest to the fact that his thinking is as wise as it is colloquial, as profound as it is practical.”

    Warner’s book sales attest $$$$$$…… wise……..profound…….practical…….middle way…….

    Now I understand what Dogen’s middle way really means; it is to stand right in the middle, between your best friend and his wife. That is what the current provocative raging debate is all about; to stand in the middle way!

    http://45.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7dvajFISO1qa69wso3_500.gif

  23. french-roast
    french-roast February 14, 2016 at 2:41 am |

    ”………Finally, and most provocatively, Warner shows Dogen offering a Middle Way between the currently raging debate between science and religion. While Warner’s writings reach readers not often prone to such study, Warner’s book sales attest to the fact that his thinking is as wise as it is colloquial, as profound as it is practical.”

    Warner’s book sales attest $$$$$$…… wise…….. profound…….practical…….middle way…….

    Now I understand what Dogen’s middle way really means; it is to stand right in the middle, between your best friend and his wife. That is what the current provocative raging debate is all about; to stand in the middle way!

  24. Rich
    Rich February 14, 2016 at 11:05 am |

    Statistically the business and the marriage will fail. There is a five parameters divorce calculator at divorce360.

    But maybe they will stay together just to prove Brad wrong.

    Are they into tantric or Taoist sex? That’s not a parameter in the divorce calculator but might alter the statistical model -) ?

  25. tuberrose
    tuberrose February 14, 2016 at 11:08 am |

    Mostly, all you can do is offer advice, help or opinions if any of that is wanted, but usually none of it is. Maybe, after all this is over, your friend will look back and realized you cared enough to try when so many others didn’t. And you don’t actually know how this will turn out. “Rick” might not look back on this time in his life with regret. It could be he’s in this relationship because he is getting something positive out of it.
    Manipulation can happen because someone doesn’t want to deny himself the pleasure of saying yes to the person who is asking so much.
    In any case, try not to worry. We can only know what we see from our own limited perceptions.

  26. jason farrow
    jason farrow February 14, 2016 at 12:03 pm |

    may be you need to get a job? like other artists. a lot of lay-monastics have jobs.

    may be you need be more engaged in the world to be a lay-monastic?

    may be hardship can be enlightenment too?

    sometimes when you are saying “you, you, you!” a person really means “me, me, me!”

  27. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm |

    So You Want To Be A Writer -Charles Bukowski

    if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
    in spite of everything,
    don’t do it.
    unless it comes unasked out of your
    heart and your mind and your mouth
    and your gut,
    don’t do it.
    if you have to sit for hours
    staring at your computer screen
    or hunched over your
    typewriter
    searching for words,
    don’t do it.
    if you’re doing it for money or
    fame,
    don’t do it.
    if you’re doing it because you want
    women in your bed,
    don’t do it.
    if you have to sit there and
    rewrite it again and again,
    don’t do it.
    if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
    don’t do it.
    if you’re trying to write like somebody
    else,
    forget about it.
    if you have to wait for it to roar out of
    you,
    then wait patiently.
    if it never does roar out of you,
    do something else.

    if you first have to read it to your wife
    or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
    or your parents or to anybody at all,
    you’re not ready.

    don’t be like so many writers,
    don’t be like so many thousands of
    people who call themselves writers,
    don’t be dull and boring and
    pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
    love.
    the libraries of the world have
    yawned themselves to
    sleep
    over your kind.
    don’t add to that.
    don’t do it.
    unless it comes out of
    your soul like a rocket,
    unless being still would
    drive you to madness or
    suicide or murder,
    don’t do it.
    unless the sun inside you is
    burning your gut,
    don’t do it.

    when it is truly time,
    and if you have been chosen,
    it will do it by
    itself and it will keep on doing it
    until you die or it dies in you.

    there is no other way.

    and there never was.

  28. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 14, 2016 at 12:21 pm |

    When I was in my twenties, I once had the grand opportunity to hang out with the writer Richard Ford (his great short story collection Rock Springs had just come out) for an afternoon and an evening. After dinner we’d both had a few drinks and I mustered up the courage to ask him what advice he had for a young writer. He said: “Don’t do it.”

  29. minkfoot
    minkfoot February 14, 2016 at 12:22 pm |

    The retreat center got a review copy of Great Doubt from Wisdom Pubs. I was quite interested, as I got to spend some time with Jeff Shore, the translator, a couple of years ago, and think he’s a great guy and cool teacher. And right there on the cover it said, “Foreword by Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen.”

    Curious to see what a Soto guy would say about Rinzai practice, I opened the slender tome of Boshan’s teachings to the page that said “Foreword by Brad Warner.” I eagerly turned the page to find one that was utterly blank, facing the page where Jeff began his introduction.

    I nominate Brad for this year’s Zen Cliché Award.

    Writing is a terrible occupation for someone trying to settle the mind. You stir up the muck to see if anything interesting floats up, and it takes a while before the thought loops fall back into the primordial ooze. But it’s worth it for the pearls.

    1. Wedged
      Wedged February 15, 2016 at 5:03 am |

      I find that cool…made me stop and think for a sec. No cliche.

    2. minkfoot
      minkfoot February 15, 2016 at 6:51 am |

      I will emphasize that it is a proof/review copy.

  30. kettlingur
    kettlingur February 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm |

    “My struggles with Rick and Kathy seem to be a kind of mirror of the struggle to convince people”

    There it is.

  31. jason farrow
    jason farrow February 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm |

    yeah…idk…
    do lay-monastics withdraw from the world? i always thought it was the other way around. i always wonder what traditional monastics gain by being recluses.

    being a recluse for awhile, or periodically, makes sense.

    idk…compare being an addict of anything, to being a bodhisattva.

    i agree with mumbles though. don’t do it for fame, money, or chicks, or any other self seeking advantageous thing. at least in terms of zen. that’s not zen in my opinion, that’s something else. but hey, that’s just my opinion. i’ve known a lot of lay-monastics who disagree with me. they think they’re owed a pay cheque. FUCK THAT NOISE.

    my perspective of modern lay-monastic style of soto zen isn’t that a monastic withdraws from the world, a lay-monastic engages with the world.

    and, books are great…but books are a serious zen disease today man. zen says books are just words. zen says that books and words cannot describe reality. so why so consistently engage in delusion?

    every fucking “zen master” today has to have his own fucking book. fuck that. zen isn’t about books or sutras. zen is about doing.

    what good, is another fucking book about zen? huh? at this point, it’s not really any good. there’s enough books on zen.

    books and sutras on zen are good. but, we got enough of those already.

    what do you want to be? an author? a bodhisattva?

    one of things that really grossed me out about modern zen is that during sesshin, like rohatsu, sensei fucks off to go write a book because he thinks he better than the rest of us. he doesn’t have to slug it out in sesshin like the rest of us. what an arrogant asshole.

  32. jason farrow
    jason farrow February 14, 2016 at 1:47 pm |

    yeah i’m still angry.

  33. jason farrow
    jason farrow February 14, 2016 at 2:06 pm |

    ME! ME! ME!
    SUCH BULLSHIT!

  34. jason farrow
    jason farrow February 14, 2016 at 2:06 pm |

    what comes thus?

  35. Michel
    Michel February 14, 2016 at 11:45 pm |

    Anyway, as for the 3rick” and “Kathy” problem, I’ve also myself run into that kind of thing. Considering the usual reaction, I’ve given it a thought, such as “should I have abstained?” instead of damaging a relationship.

    But then, it would not have been the right thing to do. If I’m driving and I’m distracted and the person sitting with me makes me observe that I’m doing something wrong, like missing an exit or driving in the wrong lane, I’ll correct myself as much as possible, end of the story.

    If you see a friend doing something wrong, your duty is to say it. However, once it is said, it does belong to the person to make a choice, wise or unwise. There we ought to leave the responsibility with the person.

    What’s more, there are occasions where there are things which you don’t know and the person knows what they are doing (although I don’t think this was here the case).

    Like that cartoon I once mentioned of a flock of sheep all going towards a cliff’s edge, and thence falling to their doom, and the ones behind, pushing forward. Like this politician saying “The country is on the edge of doom! With me, we shall put a step forward!”
    And then, in the middle of that flock, the lone sheep, going the other way, and saying “I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon…”

  36. Andy
    Andy February 15, 2016 at 3:39 am |

    In my experience, there’s no hard rule we can set up for intervening or not, other than to have a thorough look at ourselves a good few times before (if possible) and after we act, don’t act or vacillate.

    As general advice from afar I’m inclined towards Mumbles attitude above, but there are ‘real deal’ problems with allowing the non-intervention view to become dogmatic within ourselves & in its presentation to others – even dangers.

    It might have turned out that best of two ‘evils’ was to have acted in a way we knew might backfire and yet helpful seeds were planted that showed much later, we didn’t see or never will. It might have turned out that we were too fearful of things backfiring and a rot within and without ramifies the buttress in all directions, whether it ‘flows’ or not. And so on.

    In my view, we all have layered inclinations to investigate and develop habits & beliefs along those lines that see us acting/not acting accordingly. Most of the time it’s all mixed up, entangled.

    Do I have what it takes, what gives, to keep the aftermath from setting & keep myself supple enough for the next intolerable love or easy pass?

    1. Dogen
      Dogen February 15, 2016 at 8:36 am |

      That’s a no, but you may have a supple bit or two somewhere.

    2. Mumbles
      Mumbles February 15, 2016 at 8:55 am |

      You look nice,
      giving away like that.
      I’ll buy you this and buy you that:
      a closer look, a nice warm bed
      to hide under
      in the event that…

      (Near middle of John Ashbery’s new poem Cooler Temperatures)

      1. Andy
        Andy February 15, 2016 at 11:08 am |

        I haven’t a subscription to the New York Review of Books, so my majestically tentacled eye will just have to quiver or quibble under these unsightly sheets…

        “Life is a nightmare that leaves its mark upon you in order to prove that it is, in fact, real. And to suffer a solitary madness seems the joy of paradise when compared to the extraordinary condition in which one’s own madness merely emulates that of the world. I have been lured away by dreams; all is nonsense now.”

        (Ligotti – from ‘The Sect of the Idiot’)

        1. Mumbles
          Mumbles February 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm |

          My favorite big slum was the matter
          if you need to be.
          It had a rhythm all its own.
          You’re the driver. Let’s wait a second,

          and get moving.
          Don’t get any on it.
          Was I ever! Refrigerate after opening.
          I do so want not to be alone,
          not after eleven o’clock at night…

          The ship breaks up…

          You look nice,
          giving away like that.
          I’ll buy you this and buy you that:
          a closer look, a nice warm bed
          to hide under
          in the event that…

          His majesty is indisposed,
          steals the show as quite collectible,
          adding insult to injury,
          touching but often hilarious.
          God and I had a good laugh over that one.

          We lived in a suburban rumor mill a century ago,
          now and right around the corner from
          business thing.
          He felt we were alone.
          Few pamphleteers or blue gum
          as I came from…
          and they aren’t too happy.

          It might be here tonight. I’ll have to see.
          Almost no one needs her light,
          ambles away in shambles. Brass epitaph…
          I’m turning this off tonight,
          beautiful anxiety. What I understand is
          no death. Fail in the part where
          the ship breaks up,
          scissored down.

          1. Andy
            Andy February 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm |

            Cheers!

  37. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 15, 2016 at 9:06 am |

    Nice writing, Mr. Warner– warts and all!

    I went to visit a friend this weekend. I had planned to stay with him, for at least a few months starting this summer.

    He had to tell me of his misgivings over the lassitude I allow my former significant other in the disposal of mutual property; his misgivings, it seems, extended to misgivings regarding the possible endorsement of my actions implied by allowing me to park my derriere at his mansion. He reminded me of the time I sold my car for a paltry $120 (in 1975); I was promised more, but the individual who promised never delivered.

    He’s been a friend since the 5th grade. He’s got a new blog, and I helped him put it up. I advised him to stick with the positive and substantive; I’m not sure I made the point, but in my mind only the positive and substantive allows me to change what I believe, and my actions seem to follow from my beliefs regardless of whether I want them to or not.

    I looked at his reasons, and they made no sense to me, but leaving aside reason I felt that he was expressing his intuition regarding where I should be, when, and I could feel the weakness in my own sense of the future and the strength in his. I hope I will remain at some other location this summer, not his house, even though he made clear that he was willing to receive me (in spite of his misgivings).

    He’s got his hands on the planchette, too, and it’s the motion without a motion-maker that counts.

    I’m reading a book titled “Love Sense”, by Sue Johnson, and her claim is that it’s all about attachment bonds– the security we feel and the reassurance about security we get from our partner. She puts forward that speaking about the relationship in terms of our own sense of security is a way to talk about how we feel and what we need, and move the conversation beyond the difficulties that inevitably follow when we talk about another person’s feelings or actions instead of our own.

    I need to die clean, more than anything– at least in my imagination. Why I think making no motion with the planchette can accomplish a clean moment, is certainly beyond me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTwnwbG9YLE

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon February 15, 2016 at 11:10 am |

      But have you ever tried making a vision board or chanting a MANTRA that (allegedly) bestows wealth, beauty, and health?

  38. Harlan
    Harlan February 15, 2016 at 9:27 am |

    “Rick has been there for me in some very serious times. He put me through college. He made it possible for my family to go to Africa. He gave me a place to stay when I couldn’t possibly have made it on my own.

    So it’s not easy to let this abuse happen to him.”

    Ouch. Which abuse are we talking about?

  39. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara February 15, 2016 at 8:01 pm |

    You’re all writers. ALL o’ ye. (Except Mumbles (but he quotes well))

    re Rick n Kathy: the mad buzz of freefall love gets better the more inappropriate the object (ime). Go kiss a frog.

    https://youtu.be/8_pkgi-qdyQ?t=207

    1. Mark Foote
      Mark Foote February 15, 2016 at 9:58 pm |

      Mumbles is the Hunter Thompson of alchemic prose!

  40. Fred
    Fred February 16, 2016 at 5:47 pm |

    Great thread. Thank you.

  41. monkey
    monkey February 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm |

    Brad, what you say about writing reminds me of what Tony Wilson said about Joy Division – “Every other band was on stage because they wanted to be rock stars, this band was on stage because they had no fucking choice”

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