Kind of interesting that we pick the shortest month of the year to celebrate love, don't you think? To me, Valentine's day is a big barrel of bullshit that we drag out of the basement every year in order to stress people out so they start sniffing out consenting genitals like a truffle seeking boar.
Love is a big hairy beast, my friends, and it's not looking out for you, single, married or otherwise. If you're interested in cultivating a relationship with someone, avoid love, it will certainly avoid you. This point and the others I'm going to make over this month are the reason why I'm with the same person I've been with for so long.
Like many things in modern society, I disagree with the importance we place on relationships, even though I fit comfortably into the mushy trope of a monogamist. I've been with the same person for almost eight years at the time of writing this. I'm happy and I don't plan on leaving him, but that second condition is contingent on the first; fuck til death do us part, because that, like most of our concepts about love, is dumb. Don't be with someone because you feel obligated; that will cause a downward spiral that usually dips neatly into a pit of flesh eating lava bats..
Now, we place a great deal of value on love, and it's gotten us into some trouble. It's not that love is a bad thing; from an evolutionary standpoint, it's the thing that has gotten human kind out of the cave and into the rocket ships. Caring about people, and their survival, feeling accepted, these are all skills that promise a strong number of our species will survive, which is great, especially when it comes to survival in a world of competitive resources. A world devoid of love would descent into some Hunger Games-esque apocalypse where we sacrifice people because being a society of complacent sociopaths is the next logical step if you're not into sharing. And in a way, that's magical, but that's not the whole story...
Bitter Truth, #1 Love and Relationships are unrelated.
In western society, we are allowed and encouraged to choose who it is we get to spend our life with, which in my western-culturally raised view, is awesome. That being said, that's not true everywhere in the world and there's some logic to that.
There is such thing as love, by the way, and it's the bee's knees. Consequently, the lifespan of a queen bee is about a year, which is a good approximation for how long the feeling of love lasts, given that's typically the release span of the chemical oxytocin, which makes us all snuggly with people in what we typically associate as love. Over time this chemical wanes, as its primary function is to make us feel bonded to others. Once the bonds have been created and your lives/resources intermingle, there's less reason for you to keep producing the chemical. As I mentioned, there is evolutionary incentive to make us stick together in groups, let alone couples: One of the most simple is so bigger, stronger things don't murder us in droves.
Relationships, on the other hand, or more specifically marriage since that's typically a relationship meant, originally, had a bit more to do with economic security. Families unified with one another by pairing up people, and by this action, they solidified their family lines, gained more labor and ensured more babies (infertile women could be effectively ousted from marriage, thereby screwing over their family and being murdered because that's how we rolled for awhile), which by the way,making tiny child laborers was a huge deal back in the day, hence the prevalence of polygynous cultures. Again, this was somewhat of a no-no for the church, who transformed the child-labor aspects of a relationship into the servants of god part.
I'll talk more about the hirsute feelings-monster named Love a little later, though. For the sake of this article, I'm restricting to the scope of love as a chemical incentive brought to you by nature, and relationships are a social incentive brought to you by cultural constructs, mostly lineage preservation. Therefore, they have nothing to do with each other. Keeping this in mind, our ability to choose our mates is now in our own power, which was more or less a gift from the christian church, as they were cooler about marriages with no babies and less cool with everyone fucking each other.
What does that mean for modern day you? It means that when you're looking to settle down, you shouldn't be looking for someone to love, no offense to the Beatles. You can start out that way, sure, but love is a self-sacrificial phenomenon. People who are in love aren't themselves, because they'll do, say and be anything for that person lighting up all the reward centers in their brain. Love is fine for brief relationships and it's okay to have and enjoy those, but it's important to realize that if you're looking for someone to spend your life with, loving them is about as relevant as having the same blood type. Helpful in times of organ failure, but pretty much moot beyond that.
You want to marry your best friend; not in a 'should have known it all along, you are hereby released from the zoneth of friends" kind of way, but by recognizing that you have similar outlooks about what's important in life. Who gives a shit if you both collect seashells or dig Matthew Mcconaughey films, if you don't find yourselves sharing similar ideals about what the big abstract concepts like being successful or (especially) being happy means, it seems unlikely that you'll get very far.
A blatantly unhelpful article I read recently stated that the best thing for any relationship is for the people in it to be best friends. And in other news, a lot of fish live in the ocean, but some live in rivers and bowls. I realize the advice I just shared is no different in terms of how broad it is, so maybe this is the part that I can help clarify with; don't decide to get into a serious relationship *just because you love someone*. Love is there to make you want to be near someone because being near people is safer. Barring a zombie apocalypse, there's more things that will come up in your life that will require a relationship built on more pragmatic and less sparkly endeavors. It's fine to have those relationships forged in love, by the way, just realize that love isn't the glue that holds your relationship together, it's a catalyst, like a boulder careening down a hill behind you as you flee from being crushed to death. At some point, you'll jump out of the way, and you'll have to have real conversations, and real reasons to have them.
Because eventually, your inflatable raft of oxytocin will crash onto the deserted island of relationship, and when you spend that much time with one another, you're going to need more than a chemically induced selflessness to get you through building your first coconut hut together or learning how to catch fish with your bare hands. Think about what makes you hang out with your friends; how to spend time together, even as your lives change. Building a relationship on the idea of love is naive, and arguably dangerous. You can't expect it to do anything once it's gone, or expect it to last forever because you want it to. Love is incentive to create a relationship, but what you're actually doing is creating a lifestyle that needs to accomodate two people instead of one, and doing that requires the same social skills any other kind of relationship, working, friendship, etc, is built on, so if that's what you really want in life, the best place to start is by learning how you deal with everyone who is already around you.
More bitter truths about relationships will be added casually as I think of them. Thanks for reading! Follow me in the non-creepy, social media way via these little icons, because a picture is worth a thousand words, or at least 140 characters.
Happy New Years! Got resolution?
So let’s say you do, a shiny new goal. Something you’re going to do this year. Something that’s going to put all the other years before it in a box that you can donate to Goodwill, where someone can relive your gently used, hand me down piece of shit year, while pretending they’re not bothered by the weird stains.
That metaphor was clunky and unworkable, but, just like any undertaking, I committed to it through to the bloody end.
You have something new, something you can only get once a year, a whole new calendar year to make a change. Because no other arbitrary date followed by 365 consecutive days is recognized as a legitimate way to achieve a goal in our culture. That’s okay, you’re on the boat now! You’re going to be a better person! What are you going to do, learn a new language, eat more muffins, become president of Nanking?
Well, I have some bad news, you’ll probably fail.
The problem with new years resolutions, no matter what they are, is that there is no difference between who we were before the binge drinking and after. Once the hangover wears off, we still tend to be insecure, assholes we were last year, distracting ourselves in every way possible in hopes that we won’t actually have to do anything, and therefore, we’ll never fail. Why do we do this? I don’t know, but I bet someone in science has a study about it somewhere. Arguably it’s not the fear of failure, it’s the fear of change, because any major change, be it learning something new or changing you physical appearance for better or worse, is a change, and once you change, your circumstances must as well.
But maybe my cynicism hasn’t scared you off. So here’s what I know about resolutions.
There are only two pieces of advice to achieving any goal, making resolutions a reality: One is that you have to do it, the second is that you have to sacrifice something else.
The truth behind becoming, learning or doing anything is that you have to start doing it and continue. This piece of advice has been frustrating to many a travel-hungry college student who is jaded to the idea of massive student loans and losing prospective jobs because backpacking through Europe isn’t the greatest way to market yourself on LinkedIn. Often times when famous people are asked how they got where they are, it’s an ambiguous and unhelpful answer something to the effect of “I just did it.”
They are then sued by Nike for royalties.
Anyway, we usually chalk up other people’s success to knowing people. Because that’s the only way to get ahead in the world, is by knowing the right people. Because it’s bad, in our mind, to have to be socially adept in a field full of people passionate about the same thing you’re passionate about. That bizarre social anomaly aside, think of it this way; those ‘right people’ saw these successful people doing what they loved. They kept playing music, juggling swords, whatever, and they did it wherever they went. In doing so, they eventually came across people that enjoyed doing this too. By alienating people that have common interests because ‘knowing people is selling out’, you’ve doomed yourself to obscurity. But by learning from people who have the same interests and putting for the effort to meet other people, you might wind up as one of those fancy pants famous people.
The second part, which is probably why the first part is so difficult, is that you have to sacrifice something, usually a few things, in order to get your goal done. We love seeing polymaths on TV, people who speaking multiple languages with two degrees and a martial arts expertise, but the reality is, in order to master anything, you need to dedicate a lot of time. Time that you normally spend doing other things, walking your dog, having friends, eating muffins; that will all be filtered into the goal you created for yourself.
It’s not enough to just paint for a few minutes every day. You need to finish paintings every day. People will accuse you of being reclusive as you perfect your craft. Your circle of friends will change drastically as you slowly lose your ability to keep track of what’s happening on Game of Thrones because you’re still doing that same shit. Success is repetitive and requires more than a montage to pull off, so you’re required to put in more than the length of an 80s power ballad.
I’m not really sure why I’m shilling any advice by the way. I’m a pretty average person. I go to college and I work, pursue the things I think I enjoy and live relatively quietly. It makes sense for people like Rockerfeller to write books about fortune; but in this era I have an opinion and a domain name. Maybe my advice isn’t as well founded as someone with a PhD, but I am, for all intents and purposes, happy, and one thing that’s helped me accomplish that is a drive to finish things, like this article, even though I’m very sleepy, and I kind of half assed this because I really do want that muffin. We all have a piece of the puzzle, to grab a cliche from the basket that's supposed to have muffins in it, and maybe this wisdom of mine may help you. Who knows, maybe you have the muffins.
If you’re for some reason curious, writing this and hopefully other, better and insightful articles is one of my resolutions this year. That and to become more indifferent to muffins.
God Help me.
I find Christmas to be quite stressful. I'm not very good at getting people what they like or meeting deadlines, so Christmas is a mash up of those things with little sprinkles of baby Jesus and Frank Sinatra sings Christmas thrown in for flavor. It's not that I can't appreciate the season, it's just that I don't. **There's also this weird, pseudo-anarchist part of me that things part of the cruelty of christmas is the idea that corporations know that you're more likely to buy shit for yourself because you're out buying shit for people anyway, therefore sending you further into crippling debt under the guise of being kind to others.
Anyway, I've been trying to come up with some gifts for the people in my life and it's been a struggle. Apparently, my gift ideas are things that prove that those who I'm closest to in life are actually total strangers to me. Maybe I'm so enveloped in my own little world I never learned about my friends to figure these things out. Maybe my friends are boring and sad people who need little more than a new drama series on netflix and a basket of muffins to get them through the day. Maybe I'm just so poverty-stricken that the idea of giving someone a gift I didn't find left on a park bench seems outrageous. Whatever the reason, you know what you get from me for Christmas? Gift Cards.
Gift cards are like the polite way of telling someone, I know nothing about you, but I know you're human and live in this country, so you probably have to eat/consume caffeine. Since I haven't heard you talk about how meat is murder, I give you the gift of an entree at Applebee's. If I have heard you talk about how meat is murder, here is a Starbuck's card and a nobody-likes-you keychain.
The thing that seems so weird about gift cards, is that not only are you telling someone you know nothing about them, you're also ordering them to do something your way. It's like handing someone a card that says, I don't know you, but I feel like you should sit down at a Red Lobster and put food in your mouth.
So the pros of gift cards? Well, there's gotta be some sense of honesty in handing someone a piece of plastic with a designated monetary value stamped on the front. It's like a nonverbal assessment of how much you like someone you don't know very well. Sure I don't know your birthday, but your approval is worth a whole $20 in lattes!!
In that sense, these are the best gifts for your cynical friends, and you'll know, sometime, somewhere, you controlled what somebody ate that day.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.