The Inevitable End

One day, maybe, I will write something happy. Or, at least recognized as happy by the general populace. I get quite a bit of comfort from topics like this. Knowing that I will die, just like everyone I know, gives me some comfort in knowing that I will do something seen as normal in my life.

What do I mean by ‘everyone dies’? Well, just that! I do not mean that in a defeatist or dower way: there is absolutely no point in giving up all because there is an end. That’s like watching a TV show all the way but not sitting through the last episode because then it ends. There is a difference between acknowledging an end and giving up to an end.

By giving up to an end, you are ending your life before you see the ending. It pains me to think of how many amazing things could have been accomplished if, let’s say Bob, just accepted that he would die and did that amazing thing. Bob, in this example, is a defeatist. He sees an end and, instead of doing something with the time he has left, lies down and gives up. He just remains a husk until his end. He will probably spend his last moments thinking about how he should have done so much more.

That is in contrast to, let’s call her, “Cindy”. She knows that she will die one day, and tries to make sure that the world is exactly the way she wants it. She creates art she wants to see. She does her part to fight injustice. She spends her last moments thinking about how she could have done more, but ultimately did as much as she could.

To abuse the old meme: Cindy is smart. Be like Cindy.

Death is an end. I’m not going to pretend that it’s not, and I’m not going to create a bunch of false platitudes. Regardless of whether you believe in Heaven, Hell, or reincarnation: you (the “you” that you are) does not exist anymore. There is nothing daunting or depressing about that fact. Everything ends, and death is the event that we all face. It gives meaning to us, as a species.

Neil Gaiman in his graphic novel The Sandman did a fantastic narrative arc where a man lived forever. He was visited over a period of 1000 years, and went through different stages of grief. Initially, he felt invincible. Then, he spoke of the horrors of having to bury everyone he loved. In the end, it showed how shallow and meaningless his life had become while he delved into a life of superficial attachment and arrogance. I read that story about a decade ago and it has become a crucial part of my outlook since that day.

I guess I should make an ultimate point after offloading a series of truths which may, or may not, disturb you. I really can only point out how now is all that matters, in the end. Yes, the world will continue. Lives will be lived and lost after you die. Social change like #BLM and the political stife hitting the USA right now are going to be around forever. I am being optimistic when I say that fewer than 10% of you reading this will actually change something, and not 1% will change everything. That does NOT mean you shouldn’t try. Total change starts with the masses. Don’t be afraid to be a face in the crowd. As a performer, I can attest that masses are important. Without an audience, there can be no change.

If you cannot be a creator of change, be the audience that wants it.

Depression

I am going to start this of with a warning. I don’t plan on getting too dower or bleak, but this is a very triggering topic for some. If you are someone who has a tendency to get upset by talk of suicide, depression, or the state of the world, consider this a warning and remember that I love you. Call a help-line, talk to a psychiatrist, or get hold of a friend. You can even just leave a comment with a statement as simple as “help” and I will make sure to reach out.

Also, this is not a request for help. This is not a sign of warning, nor is it an answer. It’s more of a series of ideas and questions posed as a blog. I am not an expert, and I do not pretend to be. Again, resources are available if you need them. The one thing I am very passionate about is that talking to someone is, not just a step, the best step. That includes morons, like me, on the internet with too much time on their hands.

Okay. You have been warned. This is the last line that I will post before launching into my thoughts. I promise you that they will be upsetting to someone, and I refuse to be sorry for them.

If you couldn’t tell from that 3 paragraph intro, I have a lot of thoughts on depression, suicide, and mental health in general. Again: I am the furthest thing from a professional, and I have never been diagnosed as depressed. If that is a deal breaker for you, have a good day.

When I say that I have never been diagnosed with depression, I mean that in the most clinical definition. Am I depressed? Almost definitely on paper. The thing that keeps me from confirming the suspicion I have of depression is a sense of irony. It would almost be too perfect if I am depressed because my outlook on life is so bleak. I don’t care what happens after I die; I am dead. I cannot believe in an afterlife no matter how hard I try. I guess one could argue that I lead a hedonistic life, but that term seems too definite to me.

If I refuse to define my life as headonistic, how do I define it?

Well, I would say that I live a life of insecurity and stats. I obsessively watch things like YouTube subscriptions, video view numbers, stats of interactions with Twitter, and fancounts on FaceBook. I will spend the next week obsessing over the engagement that this post receives, as I have with every post I have made to this site over the last five years. The first AND last thing I do in a day is look at book sales, which haven’t shown a single number in three months at this point.

I have tied my worth as a human being to a series of number and engagement ratings. I hide my personality behind paywalls and am constantly disappointed with how poorly I am doing according to the numbers today, as opposed to seeing how they may have increased over the last year. The other day, I noticed that I lost two followers on my Twitter a month ago (the one stat I don’t keep up with) and spent hours re-reading the 40 or so posts I have made since they vanished to see what I might have done wrong. Damn, there is a chance that they were never real people. Alternatively, there is a chance that they WERE real people that realised how pointless Twitter is and disabled their account to go do something cool, like eat a sandwich.

I have a hard time disassociating likes, followers, and view numbers from accomplishment. I should be proud of the fact that I have 10ish releases of music and a book under my belt, but I find myself hung up on how I am very broke, rely on family and friends, and am very broke. Ironically, money is something that I cannot attach myself to. I have had the same Patrons forever. I appreciate them very much, but I don’t plug or push donating to that because I am trying to make stuff without relying on that. Even though I do have three dogs and a cat that would like to be fed.

So far, I know that this post has seemed like waffling. Those opening paragraphs seem like nothing more than fodder to keep the morbid few reading further into this post, but I swear there is a point to all of this. I cannot talk about my own mental shortcomings without defining where my head is at the point.

Back to my point of “who cares what happens after you die?” That is actually something I have been struggling with a lot as of late. Therefor. I have very little regard for life. I cannot find a reason to care about what happens after I die. If my identity gets taken, if my book gets plagiarized, if my unreleased work gets finished by someone else and published under their name: I will be dead and therefore cannot reap any benefit or dismay that it might generate. If anything, I do not have to deal with the fallout and heartbreak of it not going as well as I think it should.

So, if I have this very “selfish” view on life; why keep going? If I am so convinced that there will be no repercussion that I have to deal with, why even risk the heartbreak? I should be willing to take my own life. I should be already dead. I should die quietly and make sure that I go in a quiet manner to make sure that I matter as little in death as I did in life.

One word.
Tomorrow.

I’m curious about what tomorrow brings. I’m curious about what I can accomplish. I’m curious about what my friends will do, and if the things I have (or my friends have) done will matter in the long run.

If you can’t find reason to live, just remember that the reason could be as simple as what the butterfly effect might bring in the next moment.

That might sound stupid, juvenile, or even selfish; but it helps me see tomorrow. Yes; I have a wife that I love very much. Yes; I have my family, friends, and possible prospects in writing. Yes; I have a small collection of people that might read this line. I love all of you very much, and I appreciate you coming to my articles. I know that I have been a bit more rambly as of late, and much less directed. I am sorry for that, but please remember that I appreciate you.

Also music.

To reply…?

I have gone a couple of months without saying too much about the review that was published. Official opinion? I like it! I was very honoured that they compared me to Chuck Palahniuk, as he is one of my favourite writers. Even being called “undercooked” by comparison is like saying that a painting is no Mona Lisa. That comparison alone brought tears to my eyes as I read it.

I refuse to refute any points I do not agree with. I am a firm believer in the idea that a work is a living entity that exists on its own. The review, though I do think it is a bit too tough on the vignettes, is very good. Even the “undercooked” is surrounded by words of encouragement and praise, so I need to stop focusing on it.

It’s hard to detach personal attachment from something that I created. I still get mildly defensive when people attack bands I was in a lifetime ago. Hell, I have notice lyrical discrepancies in regards to The Twin and I will never elaborate on that. If you can hear where we were offensive, let’s talk about it. I’ll tell you 234982340 other times you should be offended, and I will fully agree that we should have payed more attention to what we were saying.

On the topic of creation, I am about 1/5th into writing my next book. I know that does not sound far, but you have no idea how little hair I have left trying to wrap my mind around timeline and greater scope. I have the ending done, I have a major event. Now, it’s just a matter of connecting those two points, while also making those points make sense in the greater narrative. Also, I need to give some importance and gravity to the initial event.

I showed a very early draft to my friend Pat, and he pointed out how there was no reason to care that an event happened to the main character. At that time, I had the inciting event happen right at the beginning. I still hold that it could have worked, but starting with an emotional moment only to have it undercut by how we don’t know the character is not ideal…

MY GREATER POINT

If you donate to my Patreon (as low as a dollar a month) you will be listed in the “Thank You”s at the end of the text. I will have the book done by 2021, because 2020 is a garbage fire and I want nothing I do to be immortalized by this horrible year.

Farewell to Freeway

The first live show I ever saw was Farewell to Freeway opening for The Reason. There were other bands, they were also very good, but those two stood out. Not just because they were the headliners, but also because. well, the formed a basis for my taste in music for the early 2000’s.

To be clear, and to flex my independent music knowledge because I’m a pretentious prick, I realize that Farewell to Freeway was initially Sewing With Nancy, and they changed their sound dramaticallly from almost a skate-punk sound to emo in 2000. Hell, Like Home was my introduction to the band roughly two nights before I saw them.

Again, I feel that it must be stated how amazing the whole lineup for the night was. Those two bands stick out for me because I really had no referance for heavier music. The absolute heaviest that I got at that time was Tool’s Lateralus album. If you know that album, saying that it’s not metal is rediculous, but seeing it as heavy is laughable.

If memory serves, Farewell to Freeway (hereby refered to as F2F) started their set with songs from the Between Yesterday and Today album. Still a rather emo-tastic album, but they perfected the sound from that point on.

I was in bliss. They went from being a really solid local-ish band to being something amazing to me. They closed their set with the title track from their, at that time, upcoming album (song here). I am not too man enough to admit that I cried, I thought it so beautiful. Even though I was silly and considered it metal (oh, baby me…), I didn’t dare mosh for fear that I would miss a note.

So, yes, I was floored. The Reason topped off a fantastic night. Ironically, that was the last time they were heavy (that I saw on stage) before they made the jump to a more mainstream sound three years later. (The Reason Meta-ish)(The Reason Pop feat. Sara Quin from Tegan & Sara fame)

Anyway, the reason I write about this album (aside from how instrumental it was in my taste in music) is: even though music has evolved and “improved” since this simple eight track album came out, I still return to it with great anticipation for everything to be okay for the 27 minutes that it takes to make this beautiful journey. If you are a fan of 2000’s emo or anything in the punk world from that time, I am very sure that you will love this piece of 519 history.

Can Music Be Happy and Good?

I started writing a piece about optimism and pessimism the other day, and it got me asking whether or not I even have happy music in my 36-day-long collection of songs.

Knowing that I could never go through all 36 days worth of music, I pulled a few that may or may not be happy.

Dresden Dolls — Good Day
I know it seems like I picked this song based on name alone. It took me a couple of listens to figure out whether or not it is actually happy, however. I kind of feel that it is more cynical than not happy? If that makes sense? It is basically an anthem about how strong someone is in the face of a brutal breakup that would potentially render someone uncontrollably depressed. So, a final verdict? If we are going on the A) B) options I have given myself, I would have to say happy.

Deftones — Teenager
Very symbolic, and alludes to tragedy instead of happiness. It is a song that seems to be about moving past pain and abandonment. To say that it’s pessimistic is undermining potential readings of what the poetry of this piece could be.

Deer & the Headlights — Sweet Talk
I fucking love this song. Not happy at all, and does not even pretend to be. Musically, it could be argued that it sounds “boppy” and aloof. The heartwrenching lyrics are about seeing an ex with a new lover for the first time since you separated. Juvenile? Very much, but a very relatable situation for most of us. What holds this song apart from most in the pessimism group is that it doesn’t really give the listener any sort of reprise, or even an alternate way of looking at the situation. Can I call it happy? Hell no.

Cursive — From The Hips
The most cynical song I think I have come across in my life. It is trying to make an argument that the pinnacle of human interaction is sex. The singer alludes to the idea that sex is the only time we are all truly honest and without alternative motives.

Braid — Do You Like Coffee?
I may be biased by my love for the black substance that is the subject of this song, but I would confidently put this in “optimism” pool. The song tells a tale about seeing someone for the first time in a long time. It could been seen as bitter-sweet, but still optimistic.

Livestalk & the Bodies — Pourvous
I actually forgot about this one until I asked a friend of mine about what they would recommend. I’ll probably get to their suggestion, but I want to point out the irony that one of, if not my absolute favourite song that I played on is incredibly happy-bordering-on-cute. (Don’t tell Kevo I called it cute). A song of love, confessing all manners of appreciation for all parts of the narrator’s partener. Plus, this song has the most amazing piano line written and did I mention that I love it and I played on it and I didn’t write the drum line but I wish I did am I rambling without punctuation I am so sorry.

Broken Bells — The High Road
As a fan of the bands The Shins, of course I came across this gem. The best parts of Danger Mouse cira 2010, and released just before Modern Guilt by Beck, this album combines and jangly guitar that The Shins were known for, and the trip-hop grooves that Danger Mouse produces so well. The name, and parts of the lyrics, lead one to believe that it is going to be a happy song. When you really listen to it, however, you notice that it is about someone burning out after living a great life. So, as most of the other songs on this list: cynical, at best.

The Fratellis — Flathead
EVERYBODY DANCE! FEEL HOW GREAT THE GROOVE IS! BEAT THE PISS OUT OF EVERYONE!
*ahem* This song is great. I will never get a bigger smile on my face than when I’m analyzing this one, but it hides a dark secret behind the bombastic chorus’ and bigger-than-life transitions. It’s alluding to the idea that people are two-faced at best, and horribly spoken about at worst.

The Junction — Untitled (Revised)
This song is not a great example of the album, but it remains one of my favourite pop songs of all time. I have a very hard time deciphering lyrics at the best of times, and this song is a whearwind of metaphors and complicated prose. I THINK that it’s happier than most, even though if fits very nicely in a dark sounding chasm.

The Tokyo Police Club — Bambi
This song is a coating of blunt opinions and a harsh tone over joyous celebration of youth. Maybe I am biased because of the fantastic keyboards coupled with how happy the keyboard player looked while they performed this one day, but I will forever see this as an optimistic song.

WHAT IS MY CONCLUSION? Happy lyrics are possible. Non-cynical lyrics are possible. Music is an expression of the musician’s soul, and it is easier to dwell on the horrible rather than the best of times. Hell, that Livestalk & the Bodies song is the only one out of the full album of fifteen that might be mostly unhappy.

Now, all of this conjecture is just that. I admit that I am horrible with figuring out lyrics meaning on the best of days. There are probably of happy songs. Hell, I didn’t touch ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky, Of Montreal’s entire catalogue, or C + C by Tom Vek.

The Remains {ANEWSIN 15 — JASON GARDEN}

The preceding story was written a few months ago with no plans for release. I have a different story that I am working on, and I really want to release something, so I hope this works!

The buildings were all dilapidated. The windows were broken, and the walls of the buildings were plush with the road. Frames stood proud where doors once shielded the inside from the unknown, and stood empty adorned with a hue of lapis lazuli blue.

The sky was red, like fire, but the air was cold. The wind was terrible, and cut through any attempts to guard against them was ill conceived and fruitless. Only the statues of old dared to weather out the impending storms of photons being released by an unrelenting sun.

There were no living things here.

My journey was to find you. Other things in my life may have been more pressing: more important. This need for your embrace was too overwhelming. It drove me to ignore my feelings of discomfort and allowed me to carry through this mission that, at the time, I believed to be of great importance.

Daunted by the silence, I picked up a stone. My intention was to throw it, but at that moment I was enamoured by its symmetry. It lay perfectly in my hand, ignorant of its intended fate. Who knew the reason that it was where I found it. Its story will be forever hidden from me, but I knew that this is how life had to be.

Life can be just as mysterious as the history of that rock. We jump through hoops, do things we know are fruitless and dumb, yet we end up where we have to regardless of what brought us to that point. No matter what forces we explore, and what life choices we make, events out of our control will stifle any attempts to lead a perfectly happy life. A life that we deem perfect in every way. This stone reminded me all of that. This stone, in that moment, reminded me just how chaotic everything was.

Against my better judgment, I threw the stone. I had to: I was starting to get too far into thoughts of existence. I was beginning to be consumed with expressions of impossibilities far too great to fathom. I was starting to loose any ability to maintain composure in the face of the world that I found myself engaged in. I started to notice the debris that build up at the sides of paths, and the concrete golems that line the path I was standing on.

I fall to my knees, face pointed towards the red sky. Tears flowed from my eyes as I relive all of the hate, the torment, that I had confronted over the last decade.

I had hurt so many people; either out of necessity, or greed. Never malicious, but always knowing what the outcome would be.

I had failed so many times. Some of the trials were failed out of flawed execution. Some of the attempts failed due to self-sabotage. All of them: premature.

I rose to my feet. I had to do this; I had to finish this journey. Even if it meant the end of everything, I had to find you. You deserved that, and I was the one who had to give you the reprise. You deserved the reprise, if not the world.

Is it possible that I hold you in too high regard? Have I blinded myself to your flaws and created an impossible manifestation in my mind of who you are? If that is indeed the case, will I flee as soon as you fail to live up to the incredible depiction that I have in my mind? Or, will I just blame you implicitly for all of the ways that you will fail me?

Is it possible that I am overthinking all of this?

I realize that I have stood in place now for almost five minutes. I chuckle to myself as I start to move forward. I must have looked completely broken to an outside observer. Glassy eyes, pursed lips, contemplating everything and nothing at the same time.

As I take my stride into the corrupted village, I find my mind wandering to places to distract myself from the wreckage around me.

I fixate on the eventuality and inevitably to death. A nice simple topic to dwell on. I call it that with no intent of sarcasm. People tend to dwell on the topic of what happens after. They create the grand fixations with ideas of eternal life, reincarnation, and a utopia where the good can live out a reality of there choosing. I choose to focus on the only provable direction: when we die, we die.

It is not that I have issue with every other decision to entertain the ideas that there is a greater purpose. I am envious, in fact. Call me someone with no faith or imagination, but I cannot begin to structure my life with the assumption that there may be a payoff in the end.

From everything I can see, this is it.

And, to that end, I choose to live my life as well as I can. I choose to be happier now than live as if everything I do will benefit me later. If I am miserable now, what is to matter if I live a better life later? What is even the point in self-improvement if I am not to enjoy whatever I achieve?

The streets are still quiet. Never have I dwelt on the idea that I could miss the sounds of birds, or even wind. Until you find yourself in isolation, those things are a kind of white-noise: an assumption that they will always be there. Some might even find them to be intrusive.

When they are absent, you truly notice how bleak reality can be. Paranoia sets in as every step one takes creates echos that seem to increase in volume. I keep looking over my shoulder just to make sure that I am just as alone as I thought I was just a moment ago.

This journey would be so much better if I was not alone. It has been days since I last spoke, let alone spoke to another living being. Every now and then, I will talk to a tree or a rock. I do this to make sure that I can actually still speak. It doubles as a reminder that the world still knows that I am here, as well. 

Patreon Update

I cleaned up the Patreon (clink that link to consider helping out) site as much as I could. No new categories were added, but I removed the redundant ones.

Keep in mind: you still get a place in the “Thank You” section of the end of my book for continued support. I am not going to say when the new book will be done, but I have given the three chapters to a couple of friends of mine for opinions. They see where I am going with it, and are rather excited to see where it goes*.

*Their words, not mine.

A New Branch of Government

Maybe I just missed it in my research, but I want to start a section of municiple government that looks into local bylaws regarding disability.

What would that cover? Things like industry complying with laws that govern accessibility. Resource management for individules. Set up and manage wheelchair transportation.

Yes: I know this would govern a small population in any city.
Yes: I realize that a good portion of what I am proposing should be set up by private companies and it DOESN’T exist right now because the demand is so low.

The idea that this branch doesn’t even exist*, again, upsets me very much. I am more than willing to take up the mantle if no one else is. In the case where it does exist: please give me the information for me to, at least, check in: to see if there is anything I can do. I have mentioned in this blog before, but I want to be a contact for people. I have little to offer, in the way of legal connections. Sometimes, all you need is a helping hand. I feel as if the connections I DO have are very solid, and a few are mildly ignored.

If I had unlimited money, and political power, I would create accessible housing options. As it stands, there is very little in this region. Actually, there seems to be very little in most, if not all, regions. My wife and I have been looking and, unless we want to go back into an apartment (which we don’t), there is always at least 2 reasons not to keep looking. It’s disheartening. It’s depressing.

I want to take action assuming that I will not be in the chair forever. This has become more of a passion thing, for me, and if I see no return (but break even) I’ll still feel like I had a minor win.

Independent Book Sales

I have not talked much about my book in a while.

I assume that, if you are interested, you have already picked up a copy. After a conversation with a friend of mine on Twitter, I realized that I should really stop thinking that way.

So, I re-edited and re released my book back in March. I expanded it with several short stories, and moved it from 73 pages to 195 pages.

On the physical copies, I have made the cover art black with white writing, but the opposite is still true for the digital.

I have been pushing towards buying from Friessen Press for two reason: They pressed the book, so they are going to have the proper copy. AND I try to damndest to support private and independently run storefronts, whether digital or physical.

NOW, FOR SOMETHING MORE DOWER.

I know I expel the great parts about being independent often, but the bad parts are starting to become to big to handle.

Since the initial release of You’re Not Dead back in 2016, I have made a total of 832.89 in total sales. For one month, that would be decent, but we’re talking a period of over 4 years. Considering by outgoing was 4878.93, I have not even made a full quarter of my outgoing back. To top everything off, that payout doesn’t include things like web hosting, facebook ads, or physical copies to be reviewed on the international stage. The real number is closer to 6000.

Anyway, the point of this post is to ask that you at least consider looking over my book. There is a review posted on the linked page, and you all have a feeling for my writing style by now.

Morning Person/Night Owl

I will start this post by exclaiming that all of this will be conjecture and observation. More of an expression of my own experience than fact, so take my words as “fun” rather than actual truth.

I have noticed a discrepancy in the labels of “morning person” and “night owl”. In western society, anyway, we toss those terms around to describe either someone who is good in the morning, or seems to perk up as the day continues. I wonder, however: can you be both?

I am rarely in bed before midnight, and I am usually up around eight in the morning. I usually get the mandatory eight hours of sleep, and I don’t have a nap most days. I am able to stay up later if I am stimulated, so I often get the label of “night owl”. This ignores the fact that I am most productive in the morning, where my evenings are reserved for entertainment and waffling. One could say that I am a “morning person” most days. From simple description, I fall into both categories.

While dwelling on this fact today, I got analyzing categories, in general. Whether they be to define sexuality, or personality types like into- or extrovert.

Society, as a whole, seems determined to place everyone into boxes. I am not immune to this, but I do not use them to judge people. Some people seem to wear them as a badge of sorts: proudly declaring to the world which camp they belong to.

Some things, I do understand. Race, sexuality, gender, disability… these are all things that are discriminated against and identifying as one is not a choice. Taking a stand with a label like this is announcing a kind of political stand in regard to the discrimination faced by these minorities. I do honestly wonder if people who do not belong to one of these categories are jealous in a way. They, therefore, attach themselves to ideas and regiments that are supposed to benefit, for example, introverts.

The other way I have been contemplating is that this is a way to employ people. If you work in a high-interactive environment where your employees are talking to potential customers all day, it is easier to ask if someone is an extrovert as opposed to running down a list of questions to figure out if they would be a decent fit. That, however, doesn’t explain the rampant obsession that goes along with these, seemingly arbitrary, labels.

Like stated in the first line, this was a concept, and far from scientifically backed. If you have insight, leave it in the comments below or on my FaceBook page. I will respond to every one of them, even if they are unrelated and talking about pants.