Sunday, April 28, 2013

CODEPENDENCY: Collaboration Vs. Dependency

"Tell me how am I supposed to live without you 
Now that I've been lovin' you so long
How am I supposed to live without you
How am I supposed to carry on
When all that I've been livin' for is gone"

- Michael Bolton, How Am I Supposed to Live Without You

Irritated, Jack storms out of the café allowing the double doors to rattle as he hurries past puzzled onlookers. Earphones blaring, he shoves a cigarette into his mouth and bolts down to the street corner to hail a cab. “Dammit,” Jack grits his teeth as the second yellow cab drives past, ignoring his outstretched hand. He walks further out into the street foolishly expecting a driver to somehow sense his urgency.

Suddenly, an unmarked white van screeches to a halt in front of Jack. The side door slides open as three masked-men jump out and charge him. One man forces a beige burlap sack over Jack's head whilst the others clasp his hands behind his back. Jack's cigarette falls from his fingertips letting out an audible hiss as it lands into a puddle by the curb. Struggling under their grip, Jack kicks his feet up to the door-frame in a pathetic attempt to avoid abduction. But with one final lunge, the sinister men shove Jack feet-first into the empty, seatless van. He felt a deep burn as his back skidded on the vehicle's crusted carpet. Unable to stop the momentum, Jack's right knee crashes into the van's inner steel frame just as the doors slam shut.

Having taken a heavy blow, Jack grunts as he slumps on the ground letting his left ear rest on the itchy carpet. The burlap sack slides slightly off his head providing a brief window where Jack can see the tread of numerous pairs of steel-toed boots. He looks up and unintentionally catches the eye of his kidnapper who quickly scrambles to produce a large stun-gun. The blue streaks of 900,000 volts of electricity are all Jack remembered before everything went black.

Before his eyes could fully open, Jack is forced onto his feet and heaved headfirst out of the van. A three gallon water-tank follows, hitting his back with such force that it nails his torso into the sand. Jack wheezed as he hastened to his knees. The door slams shut and the engine roars to life as the van speeds off, leaving a trail of dust at Jack's feet.....

Picture for a moment that you are Jack and you suddenly find yourself in a barren desert with only a water jug and the clothing on your back. How would you survive? Would you be able to fend for yourself? Would you be able to do it alone? 

Photo Credit: Sparks of David Photography

Codependency is the unhealthy psychological reliance of one person on another. In broader terms, it is the expectation to be motivated exclusively by extraneous factors.

Codependents are not self-sufficient because they rely on environments, substances, and other people to influence their lives. They allow external forces to dictate how they feel about themselves. They lack the wherewithal to actualize positive emotions, or cope with negative ones, by themselves. 

In reality, fuel for codependents is everywhere. It can be in their morning coffee or in their pill-cabinet; in the workout room or the bedroom. Codependency can hide under the guise of charity and counsel. It can manifest itself through the quest for validation or the reliance on other peoples' and complements and kind words. Some codependents will even flirt for fun in a pathetic attempt to feel empowered. Albeit an illusion, these seductive swindlers yearn to fill in the multiple holes of their self-image by feeling important and desired.

With the removal of these habits and techniques, codependents may break down. Perhaps they cannot be alone with their own thoughts or live with the insecurities that require outside assistance.

While healthy practices - such as trust, friendship, and advice - do exist, we must establish a strong foundation for ourselves and by ourselves. The tools, programs, and people around us are meant to assist, enhance, and cultivate our already unified personalities not “make our lives”. To rely on other people, places, or things to drive us - or worse - make us feel whole, safe, and happy is codependency and will not last. Once those things are gone, everything that we have worked on - under false security - will disappear.

Jack never made it out of the desert. He died not of malnutrition or the sting of a scorpion, but insanity. Unable to cope without his music, cigarettes, and girlfriend (with whom he argued with at the café), Jack felt powerless. He was empty, alone, and incompetent. He was nothing.

Take responsibility of your own emotions and don't rely on others for your stability and well-being. Establish a firm foundation for yourself so you can generate those feelings naturally and carry them with you wherever you go.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

For the Opinionated, Non-Conformist:

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail. 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson 

There is a certain comfort in not caring. It's so easy to brush things off with an “EH”. It's so easy to nonchalantly let life and its issues pass by and not even check the rear-view mirror. It's too easy.

For decades, I fought a dreaded battle against lethargy. Like a fat, complacent cat not wanting to be roused from its slumber, I was apathetical; unmoved by the multitude of personalities, ideas, global issues, and injustices that surrounded me. In short, I didn't give a shit about anything.

I shied away from it all. Perhaps it was fear of making the leap from the objective to the subjective or simply a depressive indifference I faced. But I knew I wanted to be sophisticated and outspoken to voice my opinion and individuality. Stifling my inner-voice meant being trampled by those who piped up the loudest or influenced by those who spoke boldly and with confidence and conviction.

We live in societies separated by political and religious affiliation but I always doubted that everyone miraculously fell into one category or another. So many people couldn't possibly agree on one thing. I didn't want to feel pressured. I hated feeling obligated to walk down the avenues of RIGHT or LEFT or conform and join a team in the political arena. And I absolutely abhorred dogma. Isn't the world big enough to house new ideas?

But conformity is a recurrent theme in the blueprint of nature. For example, the molecules in water droplets pool together in what is known as cohesion: 

Photo Credit: Sparks of David Photography

Some vines and other vegetation weave themselves through other plants in an attempt to gain more light and secure survival:

Photo Credit: Sparks of David Photography

Fire, musical synchronization, clouds, even the “slow-clap” are all examples of forces that will eventually find order, symmetry, and harmony.

So too, regarding human nature, many choose to conform to conventional ways of thinking and succumb to the force of gravity that pulls us downward when we try and ascend to new heights of intellectual freedom.

When you break nature – the inertia of the status quo - you create a new reality and are the narrator of a novelty. YES, the world IS big enough to house new ideas! But If we don't express our opinions - or at least voice an excerpt from our stream of consciousness - we can feel insignificant and miss an opportunity to gain wisdom by bouncing ideas off one another. If we conform to “the norm” we can disregard, or worse, suppress our individuality.

Granted, unity is important but if it is an excuse to not think for oneself – to be lethargic and not have an opinion – it is useless.

Opinions come from interpretation which is the result of our individual life experiences. To voice a thought or idea is the epitome of creating from uniqueness. It is our brain-child that should be loved and cultivated to maturity. One day, it can even be an influential game-changer in universal ideology, thus continuing the saga of progressive thought in our dynamic human existence.

Don't settle for second best. Think for yourself and stick out from the rest.