The Old Man’s Microwave Stand

The Old Man was a retired man, having worked at the Hazyville Post Office for the primary portion of his career. He had worked as a newspaper boy just prior to beginning at the HPO. His wife had stayed at home her entire life, from the moment they had gotten married, to take care of their four children, two girls and two boys. They were devoutly religious in the sense that they went to their place of worship once a week to get absolved of the remainer of the week’s misdoings and poor conduct.They did not read books save for about a paragraph of their worship book once per week. Sometimes the Old Woman, the Old Man’s wife, listened to the horrors of the news on the radio.

They expected of their children the following:

  • You must have a best friend from ages 5 through 18.
  • You must see the popular movies of your childhood.
  • You must have children before the age of 24, once married.
  • For the girls, you must have a scrapbook of your dream wedding, and it must happen before age 30.
  • For the boys, you must be rude to girls that they not corrupt you.

When all of the children were out of the house, the Old Man and the Old Woman only spoke to the child that had followed all of their criteria, one of the girls, named Jennifer. She’d had a best friend, Marie, through her childhood, she’d seen all of the popular movies, she’d had children before 24, she’d had a scrapbook of her dream wedding and it did occur before she was 30, but before having children. Then, Jennifer came to live with her parents once more.

“Mum, dad, I spent so long planning my wedding that I took no care in choosing a mate. I learned his middle name and his favorite color during the wedding engagement party” Jennifer said.

“Divorce is not an option, but you may live with us for childcare in the meantime. However, your children will need to follow the same requirements that you had during childhood” said the Old Woman.

“Oh yes, mum, those were great rules and worked good to make me normal. My siblings are not gud for not following the rules.”

The neighbor across the street overheard their conversation. She’d had an issue with these people for years, and whenever she would hear them speak, she’d yell over:

“you sound like your brain’s been microwaved!” and then shut her window again.

The Old Man and the Old Woman would call her a nut and say there was something wrong with her. They knew their way of living was far superior. After all, it had produced one child who’d followed all of the rules, every one of them! The Old Man got to thinking, my success is so grand that I should share it with the world! 

So the following morning after Jennifer’s return, the Old Man dug through the cords in his garage, which the women were not allowed in, for they would surely get electrocuted. He came out of the garage with a very very long cord and plugged it in one of the outlets in the kitchen. Then he dragged the cord all the way outside to the street corner. He left the cord dangling outside while he came back in to retrieve the microwave. Next, he brought out his poker table; he used it otherwise only during his poker night with the boys, where they would drink whiskey and talk about the war, though none of them were veterans (and to be honest, nobody quite knew which war). He set the microwave on the poker table underneath the street post with the street names for the intersection Pine and Hollis.

He went back inside a final time for a fold-out chair, for blank paper that he’d pilfered from the printer, and for an ink pen that had only been used once. It’d been used when a town intellectual had come over for a cup of coffee on invite of the Old Man, who he’d met at a park. The Old Man had filled in a crossword puzzle rather incorrectly while the intellectual man had overwhelmed him with his large vocabulary which consisted of words that sounded like “mexicon” (lexicon), at which point the Old Man had interjected “great laborers! great food!”

The Old Man sat at the street corner and wrote away. He had not written in many years so his handwriting was barely legible, but he would accompany the pamphlet with a hearty speech about The Right Way to Live, which coincidently was also the title of his pamphlets. On the first flap, he put the title of the pamphlet “The Right Way to Live”, on the second left-most flap, he wrote the rules mentioned above, on the middle inside flap, he provided the consequences for not following the rules: “dumbness”, “povurty”, and “going to hell”. On the final flap, he wrote, “If you have difficolty with following rules, I can microwave your brain with the microwave on this table here. It’s already plugged in and ready for your brain.”

A young woman from a neighboring house was walking back from her job at the local bakery and stopped at the Old Man’s Microwave Stand after he’d greeted her with a “hey young lady, come learn a thing or two about your behaviur.”

He handed the young woman his pamphlet and gave her a moment before he would begin his lecture, thinking this would enable the information to soak in like the coffee in a tiramisu cake. Once he figured she’d had enough time to bask in the wisdom, he began speaking “alright little girl, this is…”

But the young woman burst out laughing and smiled radiantly, saying “you clever, clever man!”

He had eight more interactions like this with people of various ages, and he waltzed back into his house at the end of the day with a big grin on his face. The Old Woman was smiling as well, and told him the good news “you’ve been invited to speak at a local club, tonight!”

The Old Man put on the clothing he wore to his weekly visit to his place of worship, and headed out the door, microwave in hand. He went to the address specified, which was the house right across the street. He didn’t even mind that it was her home. There were “her-dervs” as the Old Man referred to them and he liked that the women formed a group of they own. He looked for the young men being nasty to the women, but saw none of it. In fact, he grew suspicious when the young women began acting rather in a man-ish manner, by being boisterous with their knowledge and not meek in their tones. And he noticed that some men were reciting “sensutive” poetry meant for women’s eyes.

“Everyone! Welcome to the Society’s weekly meeting!” It was the first young woman who’d come to the Old Man’s Microwave Stand. The Old Man held the microwave in both hands with much pride.

“Our first speaker is the Old Man who lives across the street. For years now, as Ms. Tulip has mentioned to me” she nodded to the owner of the house, the one who’d yelled ‘you sound like your brain’s been microwaved’, “the Old Man and the Old Woman have been playing the greatest satire she’s known in her whole life. She would like to commend them, especially the Old Man, for dedicating so much of his time to this strange and intellectually harrowing practice. She believes that the purpose of their intricate and unpoised exercise is to draw attention to some of the lingering practices of the Old Times, when men and women were foolish and when” she laughed again, and the audience could see the roof of her mouth “they were considered on two different planes of existence even. The Society would like to further commend the Old Man for using such profound a prop as the Microwave, which has not only been an obsolete object for over thirty years, but represents the ignorance that we all shared in that time of our human history.”

The Old Man smiled and continued to smile. Perhaps his mexicon was not developed enough for him to understand the woman’s words, perhaps he had tuned her out for being a woman speaker, perhaps all the more, he was one of the world’s more progressive and dedicated performance artists. That night, the Old Man handed out a dozen pamphlets after his talk and when he got home with his microwave, he felt he had done something good for the world.

Know Me

“I know you” is a very recurrent phrase that I have heard throughout much of my adult life. It was typically used in the sense of trying to predict my next step and my decision in the face of a choice I was to make.  I used to find it endearing and maybe even comforting, but in reality, it’s a warning. To claim to know somebody’s next step is massively diminishing of their power of free will, and in many cases, it has served for the other person to feel like they had dominion over my actions and peg me down into a pattern.

You are not an abstract variable of recurrent patterns.

Let your company lift you, not drag you. As George Washington said, “it is better to be alone than in bad company.” If your company serves to diminish you and make you smaller than you actually are, recognize the fact that you are more than the things they say you are, even if you were exactly what they defined you as at some point. The right people want you to succeed and are rooting for you, even if you haven’t met them yet. In the meantime, books make great company, for they will not serve to minimize you.

If you do not know yourself, others will define you to their benefit. This has less to do with things like your life purpose, and more with your sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. I’ve always had an impeccable guide for right and wrong (as I believe all of us do deep down); the thing is, I let people outside of myself tell me I was wrong about my internal compass. I would listen to them for a while, before realizing that they were convincing me that I was wrong because it served to their advantage.

You are allowed to change your mind. For years, I was told that I change my mind a lot. Now, all I can think of is, of course I change my mind! I am constantly learning new information, so to neglect to accommodate for the new information would be foolish. Changing my mind is what propels me forward, I’m always learning, re-evaluating, and re-inventing. In this case, I think of scientific discovery. If nobody ever changed their minds, we’d still believe the world is flat.

At the end of the day, the person who knows you best is yourself.  You have a good idea of what’s best for you in a given moment. You know deep down how your actions are creating your life, even if subconsciously. Your purpose in life is you, and you are here to know yourself, not for others to tell you who you are. Your potential lies not outside of yourself, but inside.

Writing With Ease

Throughout my life, I’ve heard much of the same rhetoric about writing: it’s hard, it takes time, and on and on. I haven’t heard much of the love and process that fabricates a work of writing. To intersperse the typical rhetoric with some perhaps outlying ideas, I suggest the following:

Writing gets easier as you do more of it. I’ve noticed that the more time I spend writing, and the more involved I get with it, the more I want to do it, and the easier it gets. Writing is not innately difficult. Nothing is innately difficult; we just perceive things as difficult by virtue of convincing ourselves of it, or being told so many times that we begin to believe it.

Mood is measured in your writing. I won’t write if I’m in a bad mood as I don’t want it to taint my writing. Instead, I will spend some time getting into a better mood by reading or by baking something. I believe that humans are capable of detecting moods through artwork, so if I don’t want my writing to be overwhelmingly dark, I make sure that I’m not bringing that into it.

You can’t force good work. I view writing as a cooperation between the human, his tools, and his mind, so to attempt to coerce the mind during writing will not turn out very well. Writing is an activity of respect for your inner creativity and inner playfulness, and none of the real good writing can emerge under strained conditions. Rather, I let words and ideas flow where they may, and they always intertwine and make sense in the end.

Ideas come and go, and come. I’ve written about creative trust, and here I’ll readdress one of those principles. If I have a great idea while in the car, at a restaurant, or at another place in public, I challenge myself not to write down the idea. Here’s why: I know that if it’s a good idea, it will stick. If it’s a bad idea, it will dissolve and I won’t bother with it.

When I write, I try to do it with ease and with a good mood in tow. It’s important that when someone reads my work, they do not feel as if I squeezed or coerced the words and sentences out of me. I want my writing to be seamless and flowing, which means paying attention to the ease of process.

Worth Beyond Descriptors

In an age where time is spoken of frequently and very often in terms of being fleeting, we can become accustomed to living with our heads down. And by that, I mean that we can get so entangled and ensnared in definitive markers of a human’s worth, especially when we find that the categorizations of worthiness are in our favor. All of the categorizations that we hear cannot function to our advantage if we do not recognize them for their purpose, to create distinctions, and thereby, barriers between a person’s culturally inundated self and their true self, which is worthy and untethered by this age’s menial and unimaginative descriptors.

Your worth as a human is not dependent. It’s not reliant on arbitrary measures like how much money you made last year, whether or not you’re currently working 40 hours per week, the social cache of your hobbies and interests, the estimated perception of your business network, or the title you put on your LinkedIn account. Your worth is beyond criteria, beyond rudimentary constraint, beyond definition.

Your worth as a human is not conditional. You are a ball of energy; in more concrete terms, you are an amalgamation of potentials. Your past does not negate your energy or render you minuscule. You do not lose or gain worth as you go through life, you either align more clearly with your inner self or go away from it. However, you always have the self-made opportunity to re-align and re-configure your life to manifest your true self.

Your worth as a human is unique and captivating. With an unrelenting creative spirit and will to live day to day, we are all our own in our unrivaled potentials. There is room for the creativity of everyone, especially considering that we are all impassioned with a barrage of differences and beautiful contradictions. Some of us write, some imagine great infrastructure, some think of creating the more efficient and long-lasting tool that will enable laborers time to create rather than toil, some are spiritual leaders, and much more.

As we move through this new era remarkably shifted and accommodating of human potential, we must move beyond descriptors of our human worth. We must recognize that our worth is not dependent and not conditional. It moves beyond outer misattributions and comes from recognizing personal truths and personal potential.

20 Weeks of Morning Pages

Every morning, weekday and weekend, I get up early to write out three pages by hand. I last checked in about eight weeks ago and talked about feeling stable in my morning routine, missing a day and moving on, and working on my attention span. At the 20 week mark, the habit has set in.

Here are some thing I’ve been paying attention to in the past eight weeks in regards to Morning Pages:

Life is simpler than it seems. When I get back down to basics like handwriting and do things that ground me, I’m remarkably reminded of how simple life can be if I simply view it that way. Getting caught up in complexity is just that, getting caught. It often has nothing to do with the situation itself, but has to do with perception and with limited view of the realness of the matter at hand.

Writing badly works out the kinks. I write in the morning, throughout the day, and at night. If I have a day where I’m feeling bogged down or not my best, I can say to myself that my Morning Pages will be my “bad” writing for the day. That is, I’ll allow Morning Pages to be my canvas for funky sentences and even the occasional misspelling. When I’ve gotten this out, I can get to focusing on more substantial and robust writing.

New beginnings. After a couple of months, I found myself passively starting my daily entries with stating the day of the week. This seemingly insignificant and automatic starter to my days set off a gentle reminder to me that I was defining every day as a continuation and a badge of slowly making it through the week. It made me very aware of the fact that I was beginning my day by responding to linear time with too much weight. I have since been challenging myself to look beyond the day of the week and look for other factors to help define my beginnings.

All in all, Morning Pages continuously provide insight into my thinking processes and habits. I see no point wherein I will have no more to gain from participating in this daily exercise of mind.

Creative Trust

“I think 99 times and I find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.” – Albert Einstein

I’ve tried to write a novel dozens of times; that’s no joke. I’ve sat down and started a novel that many times. Every time, I wrote a good chunk in one or more sittings, ranging from three to thirty pages. But I’d always stop. Something wasn’t quite right in the creative process. And then one day, I started a novel and I finished it. How? I decided something very simple. I decided to trust that I would complete a novel that I was proud of. When I decided to trust myself, I no longer felt the immense pressure to have the whole novel outlined. I just went for it.

To trust was to let go of every little detail that I thought I needed to have prior to writing. That is, I had to accept the idea that writing is a process and reject the idea that everything is planned. Writing the entirety of the novel meant relinquishing control to myself, as strange as that sounds. I had to let go enough consciously to engage my subconscious, and trust it enough to provide me with a continuous stream of ideas to fill a novel. I also had to trust myself enough to step away from my writing at the end of the night and know that I would seamlessly pick up writing again the following night.

With writing novels, I engage in some self-trust practices such as the following:

Stop when you’re getting good. When I feel like I am really on a roll and my writing is really carrying itself, I stop. This act engages an element that I want to play with in novel writing. Breezing through is not satisfying; when I get to a point of good, I’m always questioning it. Having those points where I can recognize a stopping point as a high point enables that sense of satisfaction in lengthy projects. And stopping at good keeps me grounded through the process.

The Ludovico Einaudi Effect. Ludovico Einaudi is my favorite composer; the element of his work that I am most captivated by is the sound of derailment. There are these moments where you think that his fingers might slip off of the piano, but they never do. He retains control each time, but he’s not coercing the piano, he’s more so teasing out its elements through his alliance with it.  That feeling, if you can detect it in his music, is what I want to attain in my writing. I want it to be terrifying and comforting all at once, verging on madness, but restrained and even gentle.

The process of creative artistic creation is accentuated by the relationship that the artist has with his or her work. Utter fulfilling trust in the manufacturer of art, yourself, marinates the components of work and provides discernible sensibilities in it, bringing about a sort of conjoined life form. One creative body that is wrought from the artist, paradoxically dependent and independent of the artist.

Why I’ll Succeed

“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.” – Unknown

Life is more than continuous gain. It’s also loss, and loss is good. It means that I’m probably doing something right by refining my life, trimming those things I don’t need, and really only adding what I feel is vital to my wellbeing. If something’s not adding to my life in a positive way, it’s gone.

Here are some things I do differently that enable me to push myself towards success:

I expect a lot from myself. I reflect daily on my behavior and my day’s work. Many times, I recognize that I’ve not always been on my best terms with the world, so I note it as a discord with myself. I take observation too of environmental factors that cause reactions in me and ask myself if I can change my attitude towards the factor, or if I cannot. If I cannot, I find it very important for me to ask myself why, and oftentimes, I come to the conclusion that something isn’t working because it’s repelling me, and it’s just not quite where I should be. That’s when I need to take action and make a change.

I do not mourn rejection. I used to be upset with rejection until I realized that I was only adapting the feeling of rejection as a learned societal response. In fact, and on a very candid level, there is no such thing as rejection. If something is not meant for you; you cannot possibly get rejection, since there was no chance for you to acquire approval. Rejection is simply another way for the universe to notify you that the thing you “seek” is not seeking you.

Further, on a deeper level, you cannot earnestly have sought the thing you were rejected from. Think about it, fundamentally, happiness could never come from something that is not meant for you or that you would have to attain through overly-assertive means. Life is not as difficult as pounding your head again a brick wall to get things. If there is difficultly, it is only because the wrong things are being sought. The saying goes “The things you are seeking, are seeking you.”

I’m not afraid of being alone. This is probably the most important component and the one I worked for the most. I am not afraid to simply sit with myself in silence, and think and write and dream. It’s very common in our culture for people to have a consistent stream of distractions from being wholly with oneself. The issue with that is that it’s not really possible to tell if one is satisfied with herself without having the opportunity to be alone.

I’ll succeed through expecting a lot of myself, understand what rejection truly means, and being unafraid to continue to get to know myself. Continuously and unrelenting, I’ll intentionally minimizing those things in my life that don’t help me to move forward. I’ll continue to seek out success, just as it seeks me.

Here’s My Advice

We live in a culture of unsolicited advice giving. We also live the culture of acquirement of paid-for second opinions through self-help books, self-help blogs, and self-help TV.

We seek help even when and where in our lives we do not need it. This potentially stems from an insecurity of making a decision all on our own. We ask or freely receive “words of wisdom” of strangers we have never met, whose life stories we do not know, and importantly, whose success upon following their own advice we are not fully able to trace.

On the cusp on getting on my own track, it’s become more and more obvious how much unwarranted and often unwanted advice I receive on a daily basis. It’s an influx of people at work, people on the internet, and even engrained “words of wisdom” which overwhelm and make decisions all the more difficult. Now, in addition to considering the decision I have to make, I am bringing in a large variety of miscellaneous sources, some of which is not even relevant to the question at hand.

It all boils down to: Do I need to get advice on this? 

If I don’t gather the courage to make a decision all on my own, knowing that I have an internal guide that is going to point me in the right direction, I’m susceptible to an onslaught of unnecessary advice.

And I’ll make a bold statement here: All advice is naive. Why? Simply because no human outside of you can process all of the factors like you can. Only you have access to your experiences, your wisdom, and your own intuition. To accept the advice of another without totally considering its source and its limitations is to undermine your own ability to make decisions.