Sunday, January 29, 2012


One of my very good friends, Becky, is moving back from London to Boston in about a week or so.  She and I lived together in the Cambridge apartment for about a year and a half; she had traveled up from NYC during a snowstorm to spend the weekend looking at different apartments, but decided after just seeing my place to move in with me and whoever my other roommates were.  We've been friends ever since.

A couple nights ago, we were chatting online, and our discussion turned to our respective jobs:  me and my recent promotion at my store, and her with her job search.  One of the things we found ourselves agreeing about was the hesitation we both were feeling at doing something "just to do it".  For her, it was about the whole act of just taking a job to have a job--this is a sentiment I feel a lot of empathy for, having gone through essentially the same process last year (though for slightly more complicated reasons).

My promotion at work has a bit of the same flavor to it--I am very happy to get a slight bump in pay, and to have a bit more responsibility (and freedom, by way of this), but I'm also a little wary of the opportunity, more from the standpoint of commitment.  The actual commitment itself is not what concerns me:  it's more the curious lattice of what commitment I put into my job, the guitar circle, my personal work/playing/practice, and my personal life.

Tessa used to insist, whenever I would muse aloud about some idea for a musical-or-otherwise project, that I didn't have time for it, unless I dropped something else.  I am inclined to disagree--I really do have more free time then what I use--but I am becoming much more aware of what commitment goes where, and what returns I get on my investments.  The game is also moving from a short-term investment to a more long-term plan, though I am in that weird in-between moment.

Back on the subject at hand, I'm seeing this question of "why" popping up quite a bit, lately.  If there is one thing I have learned in the past three years, it is to at least acknowledge the gut reaction--it has a power that might not be 100% right, but there's probably something of value there.  There's also that fairly important difference between a gut reaction and "I like this".  That can probably be summed up by asking which one is more of a trap.

And that's sort of the crux of this.  One of the really freeing aspects of working in the circle is the knowledge that, while I have a great deal of personal commitment and loyalty to my work within the group, I could walk away tomorrow, and the other members would understand.  I also believe that, if they did not understand, or if they noticed a logical inconsistency in my reasoning, that they would bring it to light--that's what friends do.  I might be wrong, but I don't believe so.

Extrapolating this out a bit, into the everyday world, I think this is why so many people end up unhappy with their lot in life.  Sometimes, it really is the case that we simply trip over our right life path by trying something a little different, but then that can eat up the available attention for noticing when the really big "pull" shows up.

More later.

Friday, January 27, 2012

This is actually happening.

There is an exercise which involves different emotions.  At a certain point, "He is I" and "I am he" are introduced.

The patriarchal terms have no value--these could easily be female terms.

It took me a bit of not actually thinking about the issue, but I think that I've gotten a good insight into those last two.  "He is I" is, to my eye, a phrase that is used in place of the term "empathy".  "I am he", on the other hand, is a substitution for "compassion".

But why the substitution?

I think it's something to do with language.  Empathy is a pretty well-known term and emotion, but it's somewhat abstract in that form.  "He is I", on the other hand, puts it into action.  "I know that feeling", "I feel your pain" and the lot--it's recognition of oneself in another, in the moment.

"I am he" could easily be the same, but I think it's more accurate to assume compassion.  It's the same idea--compassion in action through recognition--though it might be a little more subtle in execution.  The phrase "walk a mile in the other's shoes" comes to mind, though not in the empathic sense it means.  Maybe "lighten the other's load" is a little closer.  Either way, mercy plays a big part in this.  So, too, forgiveness.

This seems to lean back to the "blind spot" musing. . .

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's been a rough week.

It's been a rough year, really.

Last week, on the way back home from rehearsal with the circle, I talked with V. a bit about my notion about the "blind spot" bit. It was a pretty wide-ranging conversation, and as he usually does, he had some useful things to say. I'm not sure he'd be comfortable with being seen as a teacher of more than guitar and music, but he teaches more than just those, all the same.

On my way to work, today, I had a sudden moment of clarity that I wasn't quite expecting, though I get the feeling that it's been coming for a long time. I am loathe to use the language I am about to use, only because I don't want to use someone else's words, but I don't have much else to work with, right now.

Deprived of my attachments, I do not exist. Brad is not.

A lot passed by in a heartbeat, so it's hard to really get the idea across simply. But, the best way I can put it right now is: if someone were to remove the things I am attached to, then I disappear.  I can look at my physical body and see it, I can recognize that there are internal processes and watch them happening, but when I lose the things that I am committed to (love is a good one to think about), there's not really anything left to leave.
This doesn't really even describe the situation correctly.


Slightly more context on this version.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hard on myself.

At work, tonight, a coworker of mine--my boss, really, though it's a little funny thinking of a girl that is several years younger than me as my boss--noted that I tend to be really hard on myself, and asked why that was.

I gave an evasive answer, saying that it was something I was working on.  Not untrue, but I didn't really want to get into the answer that leaped into my head at that moment.  Not yet with her, anyway.

Though I have taken on mistakes as a sort of constant cause to work on this year (the school year starting in September), and have found fear as a corollary to this, a post from RF's diary (and several subsequent mentions) has me thinking about something that I have been reticent to look at.  Scroll down to section VIII to see the relevant part of his post.

"Work" literature refers to this something as the chief feature, while RF prefers the term blind spot.  I like his term more:  it's more direct, and a little less intellectual-sounding*.  I've mostly avoided this subject for myself, in large part because of the nature of the concept--an extremely basic ingredient of everything that we do, to the point where we don't see it because it's literally always there.  It's daunting, and as much as I'd like to believe I've got a bit of an idea as to how this animal works, I suspect that the answer is not something I want to hear.

I get the feeling that it has something to do with giving, though.

*This is something that I really admire about RF's work:  he's taken all this work and made it completely his own.  And I love his writing style, as well:  his British humour gently coats everything, even when he writes in a highly technical manner.  I personally want to see some of these big concepts expressed in a less academic fashion, though.  Layman's terms, if you will.