Love. You. Part 3.

… Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.. Whatever that may be, no matter the arguments, if you watched the show then tell me, have you ever seen Al cheat on Peggy or viceversa? I haven’t so far (and I’ve watched the show many, many times).

               You are what you do. You do what you decide. You decide based on how your brain is wired, on past experience, on social pressure, on habit, on belief, on learned neural connections and sometimes, on the result of ad-hoc analysis. You therefore are who you were taught to be, for the most part. You are who you’ve taught yourself you should be. You certainly act that way. Do you know why that is? It’s because you’re still in the bloody Matrix, you’ve stopped yourself from taking the right pill. It’s easier to do what you’ve always done the way you’ve always done it. Especially if you’re imitating others. It also gives you a reason to avoid failure, to place the blame squarely on somebody else’s shoulders. If everybody’s doing it this way and you’re doing it this way and then you fail, somehow it’s not your fault – surely by doing it again exactly the same way you’ll succeed – it’s external, it’s a conspiracy against you, somebody nicked you, somebody somehow made you fail. Yea, right, let’s go with that. Sure it’s a conspiracy, but dummy, it ain’t what you think it is. You’ve been looking at my right hand and I’ve been making circles with my left. Misdirection, stupid. Learn to count the cards. It’s only cheating if I get caught. Let’s try it again.

               You can be the bloody winner of Miss World or Mister Universe (hey, that one is rigged, there were no Martians competing!) for all I care, and still have relationship issues. Behind every beautiful, successful man or woman there’s somebody rolling their eyes and thinking they’re full of shit. Every present or ex-Victoria’s Secret model has or had a relationship with a man who’s bored to tears by her. You won’t see that in the newspapers, though. Every damn Nobel Prize winner has his or her list of things they’ve screwed up, before, during or after the award ceremony. Winning doesn’t make you immune to failure. Failure showing up to kick us in the … knees.. is certain given enough time, like death or taxes. Only winning is uncertain. Short people are striving to look tall, tall people walk around with their heads down like they’re afraid not to step on insects, ugly people wear so much makeup there’s now even a new rule for first dates – take your girl swimming. Or so I hear, if I’m to believe 9gag. Beautiful folks think they’re dumb, smart people think they’re ugly, helloooo… Why?

               It doesn’t matter what your insecurities are, what you or others think your so-called defects are. Your value as some guy X perceives it is not higher if you’re comparing yourself to Y and X isn’t. Your software is malfunctioning. I’ve shown you in the previous example how even the best and fastest computer in the world can screw the pooch. Or how you’ve been mind-rubbed by the specter of average.

               Quick, tell me, what’s the difference between the 80 quid Microsoft Word and the free Notepad? If you have a PC without an operating system, can you use any of them? How do you know the calculator app you’re using for your everyday math is right? How did it come into being, did god’s breath touch your computer, did god say “Let there be a spreadsheet app!” and wham, in a symphony of sparks, smoke and whirring, your Microsoft Excel came into being? No, dude, somebody wrote the program, line by line, hundreds, thousands, millions of lines of code. The difference between Word and Notepad, between Excel and the ancient Abacus in the form of the now dead Visicalc comes from their features, from what they can do, from the performance boost they give to their user. Better programs have more features, can do more, faster, better, because of their programming. Let’s say I’m talking about education. Let’s believe, for the sake of the argument, that Word is a the knowledge the sort a doctor of medicine, a magister scientiae has (eg. level – advanced) and Notepad is what you know after finishing high-school (eg. level – basic). If you put them toe to toe, advanced education can outperform, outthink and outdo basic education, assuming one tries to build a better mousetrap. If you use that education to do manual labor, if you use Word or Notepad for drawing circles or solving equations or that thing you usually use Photoshop for, you’ll find the efficiency drops – neither is more effective, it’s not their area of expertise – they may even prevent you from getting things done. Remember this: shit goes in, shit comes out. A spoon of wine put in a barrel of sewage becomes sewage, and a spoon of sewage in a barrel of wine turns the wine into sewage too. So there. Here’s broken, now I’ve fixed it.

               Now try and install or use Word or Notepad on your computer if it doesn’t have an operating system. It’s like trying to learn quantum physics when you can’t read or write, or have no knowledge of math. Rather impossible. There’s no instructions, no drivers, no interpreter to use. So here are two basic and important rules of achieving success:

  • advanced, in-depth knowledge outperforms basic knowledge, but only if you use it where it can make a difference. Learning engineering might not be the right choice if you’re going for laparoscopic bowel surgery, the same way an art degree won’t help you cut trees faster;
  • you can’t reach advanced levels of knowledge if you lack the basic levels, the building blocks. You have to have the foundation laid in before you build a skyscraper. What you learn in school, in high-school – it’s the chief constituent of what they’ll be teaching you in academia.

               One more thing. The worst part comes when your software, when your knowledge you already have, is not working as it should be. Think computer viruses. Think malware. Think drunk programmer replacing a + sign with a – sign in a math program. Thing’s working just great for dividing and multiplying, you’d think it’s perfect, but now try and add two numbers. Whoa there. That’s got to be wrong, innit?

So let’s add another rule here:

  •  it doesn’t matter if you’re learning it or building on it, unless the knowledge you use is correct, it’ll fail you when you least expect it. Count on it.

               Your brain already has the basic knowledge it needs, you got it from school, from kindergarten, from your parents, from your past experiences, from your boss or co-workers. However, what I’m saying is – some of it, hell, much of it, can be either incorrect and stalling your progress or even worse, a barrier preventing you from achieving success or happiness.

               If in school or at home you’ve been taught you have to do things the way others tell you, to fit in, to avoid thinking outside the box, then don’t be surprised if you’re fired from or never hired by an advertising agency. Advertising is about creativity, sort of what a painter or a composer needs. If you’re taught all life comes from god, that evolution is bogus, that illness comes from sin, you’ll have a hard time learning biology and getting your medical degree. You can get it, but you’ll waste precious time by going back and re-learning what you ought to know already.

               All this looks good and promising so, given enough time, will power and dedication a masterful banker or top car salesman can become a good surgeon (if his/her hands are steady and there’s no fainting at the mere sight of blood, me thinks, or there’s psychiatry for you) and a Shakespeare expert can retrain to become a rather good theoretical physicist. Takes a while, I know. However, becoming a better person is significantly harder than that.

               When you look for a relationship you (well now, I’m assuming here, throw me a bone will ye?) are looking for somebody compatible, for somebody who thinks the way you think, who does things the way you do things, shares your interests and guilty pleasures, perhaps even for somebody who’ll love you for who you are. Bullshit mate. Why do you think this way? Oh, that’s what your parents taught you? Or maybe the magazines you find at the local beautician? Is it what Cosmo or Playboy or Vogue or whatever tells you? That’s bullshit and you know it. That’s it, I’m really in love with the word so I’m going to use it again – bullshit. That particular piece of software in your brain is defective. Failure is easy, giving up is easy. Happy takes time and effort. Anything that’s worth having is worth fighting for, sweating for.

               Stop thinking of those around you as people to emulate, as ideals, stop wanting to become them, as if they’re worthy of their salary or spouse or car or wealth. They’re not. You’re an idiot if you think you either deserve or should deserve whatever it is you want or get, be it money, fame or love. Nobody but maybe Jesus or hell, perhaps Mother Theresa or Gandhi are worth it. Maybe not even them. Money, fame, love, whatever – it’s not an identity, those won’t ever define you. You’d be a bloody moron to think otherwise. What you get isn’t and won’t ever be what you deserve, what you’re worth – it’s what others think you’re worth. That value is relative, subjective, manipulative and won’t ever stay at the same level over the course of your life unless you’re in prison. You are what you do to whoever you are (or aren’t) doing it to, not what or who you think you are and you certainly aren’t a different person inside that meat suit you’re sporting around.

               Nobody owes you anything, not money, not wealth, not love. There’s the real shocker. You have to work for everything. Hard. You have to pay. You put in time and sweat and take out things. You pay the price and you get the value. If people saw the inner you, they wouldn’t give a crap. There is no such thing. Yes, I’ve used to think like that too – “If only they knew who I was inside, if they’d only know me better, if …” – it’s all bullshit and it’s bad for you. What’s inside you doesn’t matter. You can feel whatever you may feel inside, if you don’t put that into action then it’s not who you are. Many think they’re actors but have never acted outside of the casting couch. Your choices and the consequences of your actions or lack of actions define what and who you are. Show me a man or woman who say they’re waiting for their prince-charming on a bloody white donkey, or that they don’t have to make themselves better, that they are worth it (because they’re good looking, because they’re smart, because they work hard, and so on) and I’ll give you 2 to 1 odds we’re looking at a future ex-wife/husband, if the heavens split open and by lord’s grace they manage to trick some poor schmuck into it – they’re bound to fail. It’s madness to think that doing the same thing over and over again will somehow give you different results. If you fail, you’re bound to fail again if you don’t change. So bloody change, then.

               Think right this time – price is what you pay, value is what you get. This is true on so many levels it’s really frightening. It’s true for you, for those around you, for everybody. Everybody assigns everybody else a value and decides if that value is worth the price tag. Everybody acts according to his or her’s self-interest. There aren’t many modern-day samaritans around, last time I looked. Your own value is not what you think it is – you don’t have intrinsic value. You’re worthless if others don’t want to pay your price because they don’t think you’re valuable to them. How much is a house worth if nobody wants to buy it because reasons, what’s the market price? Eh? Then why do you think your soul mate would and should love you for who you are, with all your brain farts, weirdness and peculiar quirks? Without you making an effort to make yourself lovable? Ooh, is it because Vogue said so? So, is that a law or something? You want to have value? Either lower the price or reforge yourself, add more features to your persona. Both require work – the price others pay for you consists of your behavior, of your peculiarity. Every bad thing you do makes your value go down and your price go up. You can’t sell a house in the middle of a garbage dump for a 500k+ euro, unless you’re conning people and then you’d expect a lawsuit even before you get to the bank to get your money.

               You have to work hard to become valuable for those around you. Your brain, at some unconscious level, already knows that. It’s why you feel guilty for stealing that bite of cake when you’re on a diet. It’s why you feel guilty for not studying when you’re supposed to be. Or when you’re fat and skip that half hour of jogging because you’ve had a hard day at work. Identify patterns, mon ami. They’ll teach you the truth, if you let them – your brain wants to keep you on the right track. You’ll find the love of others, their respect, success in life and happiness only when you’ve become valuable to them. Don’t mistake love, respect or anything else for something timeless. Don’t take things for granted, don’t get complacent. Love and respect take years to build and minutes to destroy.

               That’s why marriages fall apart. It’s because one or the other, or maybe both, have stopped working hard to maintain their value to their partners. They take each other for granted, they think a ring and a vow will freeze their value and make love mandatory. Bullshit. You will love, you will know passion, but unless you work hard to keep the flame burning you’ll lose it. All of it. Both of you. It takes two to tango, you know. I’ve come close to it myself – so here, future me, read this again in my voice and go then pull out your wallet and buy her flowers, take her dancing. Plant those daisies with her. Make her dinner. Listen to her. Make her laugh. Make her feel she’s still valuable to you, that you think she’s worth the effort. And believe me, she is, was and bloody ever will be.

               You can be as ugly as a Jackson Pollock painting and people will still love you – if you give them something they think it’s valuable to them, they’ll pay the price of loving you. Of respecting you. Of seeking your company, your approval. People will want to be you. They won’t mind what you look like. They will care, however, of what you are to them. They’ll love you as their doctor, their banker, their mechanic. They’ll think you’re their soulmate. Everything else is just crap.

Post scriptum:

               So then, tell Teen Magazine to save the crap for the customers and kindly sit on it and rotate. Go look for somebody who’ll make you crazy sometimes, who’ll argue with you, who’ll keep you on your toes, who’ll have complementary interests and skills, who’ll not take your word as if it was written on stone tablets. Look for somebody different than you, not for somebody who is you. You’ll argue, you’ll curse, you’ll cuddle, you’ll cry and you’ll laugh alongside them. You can’t have a conversation with yourself – unless you’re bound for the loony express – you’ll agree to everything. You need to know there’s a different world out there, one you alone can’t imagine without somebody else telling you how. Look for people who push you to be better, who make you believe you can be better, who believe you have more value than the one you give yourself – you’re valuable to them, valuable enough for them to pay the price of wanting to be around you. Keep your value up. Work for it. Reinvent it. Reinvent yourself, market yourself, improve yourself. You’re worth it.


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