I Get Off On the Pain


This post might be a little all over the place but I’m going to try to knock it out the best I can while Rachel is doing her afternoon “quiet time” (since she no longer naps). I’ve recently been reminded over & over again, because of the whole Covid situation as well as the upcoming election, among other things, of how incredibly frustrating it is to me that so many folks are frankly so one-dimensional. As I told one of my best friends recently, I am continually disappointed in how completely predictable so many people are. When I find those rare jewels of people whose opinions I cannot accurately predict on most every subject, I smile & retain at least a little hope for humanity. I’m not asking for everyone to agree with me on everything. What a boring world that would be! I just wish that more people weren’t so damn predictable!

I am often reminded of the Walt Whitman quote “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” I love that quote because to me it encapsulates the complexity of the human experience & how we are all at times hypocrites because we all contain so many complex emotions & ideals that often contradict each other. And that is ok- that is what makes us alive- & interesting!

I just wish more people realized that we don’t have to fit into the neat little boxes in which society tries to place us. And even if we do choose to align ourselves with certain groups, we aren’t obliged to always agree with those groups on every single issue. We can be individuals- we don’t have to have a herd mentality!

For example:

You can ascribe to most aspects of “gentle parenting” even if you don’t co-sleep, breastfeed for extended periods, baby-wear constantly, home-school, or partake in a vegetarian/vegan diet.

You can ascribe to a lot of moral ideas without actually being religious.

You can 100% support the concept of black lives matter without supporting the actual organization of the same name.

You can have tattoos &/or piercings &/or “crazy hair” & still have a professional job & be just as great at it as someone who looks more traditional.

You can love rock/metal music & not have any tattoos or piercings or dress in all black & that doesn’t make you any less of a “real” fan.

You can abhor gun violence but still staunchly support the 2nd Amendment.

Caring about the poor does not have to equate to being a socialist (or communist).

You can abhor drugs but still believe they should be legal.

Just because you don’t support a ton of government welfare programs does not mean that you don’t care about the poor or believe in helping them. (Government, after all, isn’t the only means for helping people. It’s often the least efficient method, but that’s a post for another day.)

Being a Democrat does not automatically make you anti-racist & being a Republican or Libertarian does not automatically make you racist.

Believing in the importance of the nuclear family does not mean you do not support other less “traditional” family structures.

You can believe that men & women are equal while acknowledging our differences & not seeking to tear down the opposite gender.

You can support the legalization of prostitution (for adults only, obviously!) while still believing that sex is best in the context of a committed, loving relationship.

You can support free speech & the right for women to say or do anything they please but still find Cardi B’s WAP to be straight trash. (Guess her WAP wasn’t so great after all, seeing as she is getting divorced due to her husband’s infidelity… Yep, I’m probably a bad person for laughing about that…)

How do I know all of these things are possible? Well, for the most part, I just described myself…

On a seemingly unrelated note, I have recently rediscovered my love for country music artist Gary Allan. I guess I never truly forgot about him but I haven’t listened to country radio in YEARS so he’d just kind of fallen off my radar since the only country singer I religiously follow is Eric Church. In any case, YouTube recommended Gary’s new song Waste of a Whiskey Drink a week or two ago & I’ve been hooked ever since. You could quite fairly call the song cynical & I’m sure there are some angry hard core feminists out there decrying it as the epitome of sexism, but I don’t care because I think you could reverse the genders in the song & it would be equally accurate.

Anyhow, that song led me to listen to a bunch of Gary Allan’s older songs, some of which I’ve known & loved for years like Watching Airplanes & his cover of Best I Ever Had. But I also came across a lot of others that I either never knew or had forgotten. May I just say that this man’s gravelly voice is perfectly suited to that particular brand of melancholy that only country songs can elicit? Off the top of my head three excellent examples of this are Today, Smoke Rings in the Dark, & It Ain’t the Whiskey.

Of course this post isn’t about country music or even my love for Gary Allan, though I could certainly do an entire post about him someday. But for some reason I felt compelled to explain the wormhole that led me to rediscover his song Get Off on the Pain & how that song seems to perfectly encapsulate what I’m trying to explain here today. Now superficially the song probably doesn’t seem to relate to my life very much- I’m not a man, a traveling musician, or someone who’s been in a bunch of bad relationships- but if you think about the broader meaning of the song I can relate to it in so many ways.

Because I am the “crazy Libertarian” that I am, I find myself constantly being told that I’m wrong, crazy, heathen, don’t care about others, & a lot of other things that I generally don’t believe are true. I frequently long to have a greater sense of belonging but any organized group I’ve ever belonged to has left me dissatisfied sooner or later. The truth of the matter is, like the song says, I think I get off on the pain. As much as I sometimes long to be more content with life, to not question things so much, to be more accepted by society, at the end of the day I don’t think I’d be happy that way. I’ve always been a bit of an outsider & that’s the way I think I’ll always be. It isn’t always an easy road to take but it’s the only one I’ve ever really known & it’s the one I’m going to keep on walking as long as I can.

P.S. I apologize for not including the YouTube links to the songs mentioned in this post like I normally do but WordPress has changed its blogging format & I’m still trying to figure out how to add links to posts. I never said I was tech savvy…

P.S.S. If this post seems to have lost steam half way through it’s because Rachel left her room & has been interrupting me constantly… #momlife

Finding Peace When Times are Hard


There was a shooting in my hometown today (about three hours away from where I now live).  Being a very small town in a very rural area, this isn’t exactly something you expect to read about when scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed.  But sadly this isn’t the first time there’s been a shooting in this supposedly peaceful place.  It’s the second hometown shooting I’ve found out about via Facebook just in the past four or five years.  In any case it goes without saying that this is a horrific tragedy that has no doubt affected countless individuals.  It’s ironic to me how so many people have this idea that small towns are inherently safer, more peaceful, and generally more moral than the rest of the world.  I can tell you from personal experience that they are not & that small towns are exactly how Agatha Christie used to describe them in her books: they are a microcosm for the larger world.  All the evil that exists in the world as a whole exists just as strongly in a small town.  It just might not seem quite as apparent if given only a cursory glance.  This isn’t a rant against small towns (even though I’ve long since realized that small town life just isn’t right for me anymore, at least at this stage of my life).  I’m just trying to say that evil is everywhere.  There’s no running from it.  No hiding from it.  However, despite what I often hear, especially at times like this, I don’t believe the world is getting any more evil than it’s ever been.  First of all there is absolutely no scientific way to measure that.  And second of all, I truly believe it’s only due to technology such as TV & the internet that we are more aware of so much of the evil in the world, which of course makes is seem like the world is getting worse & worse.  Perhaps if good news received even half the attention that bad news receives, we wouldn’t be so convinced that the world is “going to hell in a handbasket,” as it were.  But sensationalism sells . . .

times are hard

Anyway, at times like these, I find myself slipping into the cynicism that inevitably rears its ugly head whenever such senseless tragedies occur.  I did not personally know the victim but I interacted with her a handful of times growing up, as she worked in the local school system, & her son was involved in a teen group at my church when we were growing up but I haven’t seen or heard from him in many years.  The alleged perpetrator as I understand it, who at this writing is still at large, was a barber in town for many years & as such was well known in the community (somebody correct me if I’m wrong here).  I believe my dad used to go to his barber shop.    Point being, I don’t have a strong personal connection to this tragedy, but even so it is a shocking event that sends the mind reeling with questions about the uncertainty & unfairness of life.  I like to think of myself as mostly a positive person but I think at heart I am actually a realist.  I cannot help but see reality for exactly what it is most of the time.  For example as a nurse, I cannot help but realize how completely futile the care I provide is at times.  Or when I think about becoming a mom, I cannot help but realize how difficult & tiring of an undertaking that will be.  I often hear women say “Babies are cute but I just had no idea how much work this would be.”  When I hear such things, part of me wants to slap them in the face.  How could you NOT realize how much work a baby will be?  To me it’s just so obvious.  Just as it’s obvious to me that a 90 year old who cannot speak, eat, or care for herself in any way & generally has no quality of life should be a DNR and should not receive a feeding tube to prolong her misery.  But I’ve strayed from the point . . .

What I’m saying is I’m struggling right now to fight my way out of the darkness.  I know there are plenty of wonderful people in the world & I truly believe that good is stronger than evil.  If I didn’t, I don’t think I could keep going.  But when you’re presented with tragedies like this that quite literally hit close to home (the shooting occurred maybe two miles from my parents’ house), it’s easy to lose sight of that.  Having no strong personal connection to this horrifying event, I feel actually quite selfish being so upset by it.  I know the victim’s family & friends are suffering so much right now.  Yet I also know there are others like me who have no real connection to this story & yet are horrified just the same.

Certainly this is a time of grieving for my hometown & there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking our time to grieve & process such a horrific event.  As I wrote around Christmas, grief is a ghost that will haunt us forever until we learn to work through it (https://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2013/12/18/processing-grief-during-the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year/).  We each must identify the coping mechanisms that help us to work through our grief and the cynicism that can naturally follow such a tragedy.  For me music is quite often the best healer.   Music along with writing is what helps me make sense of a senseless world.  Or perhaps I should say to come to terms with a senseless world.

As it turns out, earlier this week I was fooling around on YouTube, as I often do, & came across a new song by a band I discovered at Uproar Festival in Raleigh in September of 2012, shortly after we moved down here.  The song is called Times are Hard by Redlight King.  I have been listening to it almost non-stop for the past few days & I cannot help but feel like the timing of discovering this song was quite providential for lack of a better word.  The song talks about how when life is hard, when tragedies take us by surprise & there seems to be no balm for our wounds, we need to find someone to hold onto to keep us strong.  How appropriate at a time like this.  To me it’s an empowering song, yet it doesn’t gloss over how difficult life can be at times.  I don’t know if the song was necessarily written about this kind of horrific tragedy, but that’s the beauty of music: it can mean whatever you want it to mean.  It can speak to you wherever you are at this point in time.

I’ll leave you with the lyrics & a link to the song on YouTube.  Check it out.  It’s powerful stuff.

Sooner or later life will pull you in

Make you choose to either sink or swim

Somewhere down the line it’s gonna break your heart

Put you out & make you wear the scars

All these dreams, they come with all this doubt

When we can’t fit in we try to find a way out

Learn to fight so they don’t seal our fate

They say you never see it coming till it’s way too late

These times are hard, feels like nothing’s gonna change

Nowhere to start, & you got nothing for the pain

`Cause when life moves fast, it don’t matter who you are

You gotta find someone to hold onto

Damn, these times are hard

We build those bridges & we watch them burn

So quick to pull the trigger, so slow to take our turn

We’ve all been locked out & we’ve broken down the door

Some of us hit the dirt, some of us still come back for more

When the thirst gets so bad, you’re just dying to get a taste

When it don’t involve religion, when it don’t involve the race

And there’s everything to lose `cause we were never born to win

Willing to sacrifice everything we have just to roll the dice again

These times are hard, feels like nothing’s gonna change

Nowhere to start, & you got nothing for the pain

`Cause when life moves fast, it don’t matter who you are

You gotta find someone to hold onto

Damn, these times are hard

 

Life isn’t perfect, so it’s just what you make it

And that’s what they tell you

But it’s hard when they’re holding you down

Somebody out there for you

They’re praying it all gets easy

Someone you hold onto

These times are hard, feels like nothing’s gonna change

Nowhere to start, & you got nothing for the pain

`Cause when life moves fast, it don’t matter who you are

You gotta find someone to hold onto

Damn, these times are hard