DWB (Dating While Broke) – Ask Mr. Philosopher

Ask Mr. Philosopher: Ought I Be A Broke Dater?

H. writes, “Mr. Philosopher –

I’m a guy in my mid 20’s and I’m basically paycheck to paycheck.  The bills are paid, but I haven’t gotten to really diversify my bonds and increase my portfolio – basically, a nigga broke.  But, you know, I still love taking chicks out on dates, trying to get some pussy and, you know, maybe even fall in love.  Dates be expensive though, and that doesn’t help when I’m trying to increase my bonds and shit.  So basically, should I be trying to date when dating can be prohibitively expensive?”

Dating does hit the wallet and dating multiple people at once, if not budgeted for, can wreak havoc on a wallet.  That said, whether or not one should date while being financially responsible depends on perhaps the reason for dating.  In general, if you want companionship then you should go out and seek it in whatever form you desire.  So if you just want sex, go find someone to fuck.  If you want someone to kick it with, find a buddy.  If you want someone to be in a relationship with, by all means be on the lookout for Mr. or Mrs. Right.  Just be advised that there are a few issues that come with being broke:

1)      Who’s going to pay for the date?

2)      Why can’t you ever pay for the date?

3)      Why can’t you ever not need anything?

With regards to 1, the custom is that the man pays and the more general custom is whoever asks pays, but if you’re a broke guy then what message are you communicating to someone when you can’t pay for the date?  It signals that you’re unable to support in a financial manner and that’s a red flag for many women in relationships.  So even if you’re a grand emotional provider, that won’t matter if she’s nervous that the bills won’t get paid or that you can’t afford to be with her.

But wait, you pay all of your bills on time?  Well they aren’t her bills, so it doesn’t really matter.  She’s looking at the after-taxes, after-bills money and if you ain’t got it, somebody else does.  Being broke reduces whatever special thing you bring to the table as being able to be bought out, or at least reduces it to the constant threat of a buyout, which leads me to 2.

With regards to 2, it’s one thing if you don’t have spare funds the day you’ve paid your bills, but another thing entirely to lack funds regularly.  It might not even be you – I’ve dated a girl who had to tell me that it wasn’t me, I’d done ample paying of shit regularly as a way to keep her from thinking about money as best I could until my financial situation changed and that wasn’t feasible.  She once told me she wouldn’t visit until she had the money to, and it was a result of her not wrapping her mind around the new financial situation I ended up in (worse than the original but better than the intermediate financial situation).  I could pay for everything – she just lost faith that I could amidst prior situations that I couldn’t necessarily control.  And once she loses faith in you (and your ability to provide), it’s really just a matter of time before she wants to believe in someone or something greater.

With regards to 3, the adage is that broke people break people and it’s because of the constant perceived need that, “you can’t buy shit for yourself so now everything is on my dime,” and the buyer is wondering if you are worth, literally, the time and money involved in this.  They’re looking for what you bring to the table, wondering if it offsets the money.  Plenty of people do this with purely physical relationships – men and women alike go and date some broke motherfucker who can fuck well, they have to spend the majority of the money in the situation, the other person doesn’t have a car or access to consistent transportation, always wants something, and after awhile the dick/pussy just isn’t worth all the trouble of dealing with someone who is ultimately too flawed for you.  What might be worse is not wanting to be that broke person but ending up as that broke person, and if you’re that broke person just know that resentment on both sides is a real possibility.

Someone said yesterday, “How are you going to ask me out and then tell me you can’t afford it?”  Well, I can’t afford to take someone out on a date that costs over $60 regularly and it’d be foolish for my financial situation to take a weekly $60 hit, at least for a few months.  Does this mean that I shouldn’t be dating?  Quite the contrary; you find someone who is willing to manage their expectations.  So if you don’t have a lot of money, you might not be dating some fine ass lawyer-type because you can’t afford her lifestyle.  But there’s likely some pretty, smart, available woman in your tax bracket (get them while they’re in law school).  And if there aren’t, then be upfront and get your issue off until you can afford to spend what has to be spent to get who you want.

The unfortunate aspect to all of this is that people have placed financial situations towards the crux of why they can or are in a position to find love.  Many successful, long lasting couples found each other as they both didn’t have much money, and were able to grow together.  Most people won’t independently become Jay-Z and Beyonce and then get together.  That is a myth, a fairy tale, or at best just extremely rare.  Expecting that you get that is like expecting to win the lottery.  You shouldn’t EXPECT to win the lottery – it’s a damn miracle if you do and the expectation should be that you lose the lottery.  I understand that it costs money to live, but it doesn’t cost money to love.  There’s also a great deal of hypocrisy involved, as there are men and women who think they require more than what they actually deserve judging by what they financially bring to the table because of other assets they think they possess that warrants the price tag they’ve assigned themselves.  So if you’re a bad bitch you might not be working as much/bringing in much money because somebody is taking care of primary bills precisely because you’re a bad bitch and as a result, there’s a price tag to be able to get in a relationship with you.  Same with powerful men, the power grants them a price tag of some sort.  But on average, most EVERYBODY you know are paycheck to paycheck, with very little savings, no emergency fund, no Roth IRA, no 401K, they make $40,000 but it feels like they make $20,000 and Suze Orman would fail em on her “How Am I Doing?” segment.  So when these same people say, “I’m never dating a broke nigga again,” I wonder how many think of themselves as broke bitches?  Same for the ones who say, “I’m never dating a broke bitch again,” it wouldn’t surprise me if they themselves didn’t recognize their own brokeness.

Finally, those who remark that broke folks should, “work on themselves before finding their significant other” have a false belief that there is an established order of operations for finding love and that the very first step is to have some established, consistent funds.  The next step is to, when you’re financially able, to start wasting money on a long line of potential significant others until you find one to settle on, try that out and see if it’s love.  The false belief comes because the way the order is set, you’re not open to love until after you’ve gotten a certain position in your life.  I understand wanting to have security, particularly as a man to be able to offer security as well, and I also understand that not everybody is ready for love at all times.  But that’s precisely the false belief that this hinges on, that nobody is ready for love until they’re secure, and security here implies financial security (according to someone’s ideal).  But security itself doesn’t imply just financial security, and I often think about two of the best men I’ve met in my life when I think about the question, “Are you marriageable?”

Michael and Lonnie (names changed for anonymity) were a couple of guys I met during high school, older guys who were as hardworking as you knew – punched in early, didn’t leave until late.  They had consistent values about educating young people, always gave me good advice, and were respected by their peers and coworkers.  Both were married, and had been for at least a couple of decades.  I never wondered if they could provide for their wives and families, or if the wives had lost faith in them because of their job.  Michael once told me that he met his wife when they were young and when he got the job I met him at, she was happy for him and it provided for his family.  Lonnie definitely was happy to have the job he had and he was secure in who he was, what he did, and how he provided for his family.  They both were proud men, who took pride in themselves and what they brought to the community.

They were both janitors at my high school.  Some woman heard that her potential husband was going to be a janitor and didn’t turn her nose up at him because he was hard working and loving and doing what he could to provide with what he had.  Janitors, even at a private school, don’t make much money.  But their wives weren’t tripping off of the money, they looked to see who they could build a family with.  I mention this because the initial question of why are you dating ends up looming extremely large.  If you’re dating for fun, then finances might impact how much fun you could have and then it might not be as prudent to date a whole lot.  But if you’re dating for a partner, then your financial situation shouldn’t be an impediment to you finding your soul mate.  Indeed, you don’t want to settle because you weren’t open for love when you should have been and now that you are, you don’t want to be alone and you settle on contentedness over striving for happiness.  Ultimately, the goal of dating should be to find someone who does make you happy.  So if you’re happy fucking a few people, go to it.  If you’d be happier with one, settle down.  If the one you want to settle with isn’t the right one, go find another.  But if you’re not secure in who you are, what you offer (in total, not just in your wallet), and what you want, then it’s not financial issues that’ll wreck your dating.

2013 Ended Crazy – Affluenza

I’ve been shocked by some of the events that transpired to finish the year.  Last week, I mentioned the Megyn Kelly “Santa/Jesus” issue, and next up is the one that actually made me mad enough to yell at the TV when I saw it.


As though money can’t afford you enough privilege, it’s now a problem when you have too much privilege.  The way to address that problem?  Of course not the penitentiary, but rehab.  Rehab.  REHAB!  This ain’t a drug addiction!  That the judge bought it is problem enough, but of course there are racial overtones to these proceedings.  With that said…

I will make sure my kids catch affluenza.  If it means they need to be injected with it, so be it.  I’ll put them around kids who have it so that they can catch it.  There will be no quarantines once I find out where all the kids with affluenza go, I’m sending my kids there everyday for as long as possible.  They need to catch that affluenza so that they can feel the exact opposite of how I did growing up, as free as they can be to do whatever they want to do with limited to no consequences.  I wonder what kind of moral system I would have created if I knew there were no punishments.  Plato wonders the same in the Ring of Gyges myth in the Republic, asking if people would still do the right thing if they knew they wouldn’t be punished for doing the wrong thing.  Apparently, the conclusion of the story is the same conclusion as in real life.

A rich 16-year-old kid, who STOLE beer from a Wal-Mart and then mowed down 4 people on the road while drunk, received probation.  Ten years of probation.  I have a neighbor who is on 10 years probation and he’s still breaking the law, albeit more cautiously.  And he didn’t kill anybody, let alone 4 somebodies.  Yet justice was rendered blind and cruel when the judge bought the bogus defense that being too rich just didn’t provide him with enough stability, so he needs to be sent somewhere for treatment to learn how to earn things and work hard (that costs $450,000 a year).

They have places like that called jail.  It’s where you go when you break laws and kill people.  You have to learn how to earn things and work hard.  In fact, I saw a commercial about a guy who killed a family texting and driving and he pled guilty and received a jail sentence.  The only difference here is that, for some ridiculous reason, the kid (who is old enough to know that drinking and driving is illegal, drinking underage is illegal, theft is illegal, and murder is illegal) is the beneficiary of the assumption that he was so poorly raised that he was unable to keep himself on the right side of the law and that his future life could add enough value to society such that he deserves a chance to be rehabilitated.

It’s hard not to read that assumption and go, “So if you’re rich and white and misparented, then it’s not the kid’s fault and the parents just have to be able to buy their way out via a treatment program…even after committing a heinous crime.”  It’s not like the kid got caught with some weed and they used the affluenza defense – perhaps, in that scenario, it might hold water that a kid with little oversight might get into unintentionally deep trouble and make a mistake (though that’s still questionable).  No, he KILLED FOUR PEOPLE WHILE DRUNK DRIVING.  VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER.  And he has to go to a treatment facility where he doesn’t have access to Xbox, women, and has to work all week to watch a TV on the weekends.  So his parents are paying for some group home to parent their child, all after the fact that their child murdered four people because their wealth made them poor parents.  Absolutely brilliant.

This also invites the question – if too much wealth can be considered a rationale for why a person breaks society’s laws without fear of consequence, why can’t poverty be used as the same rationale?  Because of a lack of resources and my parents’ time being consumed trying to acquire resources for our family, I didn’t receive enough oversight and boundary formation such that I fell into the wrong crowd and killed a few people.  Hell, I don’t even have to fall into the wrong crowd – the affluenza is a home problem, not a social problem.  So it could have just been lack of oversight and lack of punishment led me to make wrong decisions, and I could be rehabilitated to become a useful member of society.  But because I can’t afford to go to the treatment facility, I’m unable to have access to that defense, and have to go to the poor people’s rehab center, prison.

Race might get the headlines, but class drives the content.  And in this case, I believe it’s fair to wonder if any preferential prejudices got in the way of determining justice.  This reminds me of a Law & Order SVU episode where a judge lets his bias about what a good mother looked like run his courtroom.  I wonder if the judge felt similarly about what a good kid looks like and if that same kid looked different if there might be other prejudices that would have prevented that kid from the same treatment.  The law is supposed to go case-by-case, and I do think that no matter the race or class of a person, if you steal beer, get faded, and kill people behind the wheel that you deserve castigation, punishment, and that you’ve lost your ability to be the same member of society that you thought you were.

This kid killed four people drunk driving (with Valium and weed in his system).  Why this kid got to keep his right to live amongst the citizenry, hell in a death penalty state like Texas even his right to life when the same judge has delivered an unduly harsh verdict on a young Black male for a nonviolent offense will blow my mind (if an excuse is ever given).

So maybe my kids can’t benefit from affluenza after all…

2013 Ended Crazy – Megyn Kelly

I’ve been shocked by some of what I’ve seen to conclude the year.  Beyonce dropped a new album that made every woman go bananas (again), Jameis Winston wasn’t charged with rape (then won both the Heisman and National Championship), a football player left his team because of bullying and racism (and the team nearly made the playoffs following this episode), a kid even got drunk and killed 4 people (and was sentenced to probation), Instagram added direct videos and pictures (and you can’t just send them to everybody), and that’s not even half of the shit that just surprised me (government shutdown, rollout of Obamacare and the ensuing backlash, Edward Snowden telling us what we already knew).

But Jesus and Santa as verified white men is where I’ll begin my recap of what was a uniquely volatile year in human history.

Megyn Kelly from Fox News provided a moment of the year when she uttered:

“Jesus is what he is, which is white.”

Flipside is that there’s a professor accused of racism when she was talking to a journalism class about…racism in the media.

Megyn Kelly gave us some shock last month, telling America that Santa and Jesus are verifiable white men.  She went afterwards to try to clear up what has started a firestorm, focusing on Santa, and effectively blaming folks for spinning her words into what she didn’t mean and making character assassinations of her.  She even went so far as to say that it was clearly a joke, when nobody on the panel even chuckled.  Perhaps it’s because, as Kelly says, “Race is still a volatile subject in this country,” and the other panelists recognized her potentially troublesome joke and didn’t want to be part of the ensuing volatility.

But, if I may, she can shut the hell up.

I don’t get offended anymore by surprising revelations, such as, “Jesus was white, obviously!”  Or the even better, “Santa just is white!  Duh!”  I do get offended when people try to pull the wool over my eyes, as though nobody has done anything questionable.  Kelly (I just don’t wish to keep typing this ridiculous name – for all the shit people talk about Black names, who the hell puts a Y where an E goes?  Me-gyne is what it reads like.) did say that she was referring to the commercialized Santa, who is normally depicted as white.  Which is the same image that Aisha Harris was referring to as being problematic because Santa is only conceived of as white.  Commercialized Santa, however, is not Santa himself – it’s the popular depiction of Santa.  Just like the popular depiction of Jesus is of a white guy with a possible tan is not Jesus himself.  So no, Me-gyne, you can’t claim that you saying that Santa is white is backed up my popular depictions and that because the popular depictions are what we have, that it must be true.  If that was the case, given popular depictions of you, we would have to say that Me-gyne Kelly is a racist because it’s the consistent, popular depiction of you (regardless of if it is true of you, actually).

Even worse, she tried to make Harris’ piece into a form of comedy by claiming that her inclusive Santa response of a penguin must be a joke.  As somebody who grew up with Black Santa in the house, I’ve always had to be imaginative about how Santa must be.  He’s a fictional character, so there’s nothing about Santa Claus (not St. Nicholas) that prevents us from altering a depiction of him.  More to the point, Santa is for the kids anyway!  Kids NEED to use their imaginations to learn the difference between reality and fantasy, so if we’re telling a fantasy tale about a guy in a magic sleigh, with magic reindeer, who gives gifts to good kids (and lumps of coal to bad ones) all across the world in one night…would Santa being a penguin really change the fantastical nature of the story?  A morbidly obese white man who appears to be one too many chimney drops away from being rolled out in an ambulance, we’ll give him some latitude on our imaginations, but a penguin is too ridiculous?

Finally, Me-gyne has missed the boat on what Santa does – he gets to determine who has been good and who has been bad by watching over you the entire year, all day every day, and then dispenses favor or no favor as a result.  A permanently white Santa might make children of color frightened, seeing as there are ample instances of white judgment unfairly going against Black people.  It also lends itself, given the closeness of power to Santa and God (in kind, not degree), to the depiction of Jesus as white.  If one nearly-omniscient and nearly-omnipotent being apparently exists and is white, it’s an easier pill to swallow that an omniscient and omnipotent being would be white.  And we only talk about Santa when we’re about to talk about a holy holiday.

So yes, there was much bluster about race-baiters, whatever the hell those are.  But beyond the bluster lay a poor argument and even poorer justification for treating Santa and Jesus as verified white men.

Friends, Belief, and Faith

Friends are useful for multiple reasons.  They’re great for reflecting back to you what image you project to the world, for giving you as much shit as they can inspiration, introducing you to new experiences.  Friends provide you so much to help enrich your life.  They truly are part of how a human flourishes and human flourishing is an idea that I’ve always thought had real merit to it.[1]  We should improve as we grow to become the maximal selves possible.  How that gets accomplished may differ from person to person, but clearly one of the best methods of self-actualization and self-maximization comes through our social interactions.  Put simply, being social with your friends well help you become the best self possible.[2]

I want to focus more on what friends provide us and what we can provide our friends within this framework of friendship improving people, and that’s belief in one another.  Belief has been considered frighteningly powerful when exercised in the service of a greater good.  Belief needs some grounding, and one possible grounding is in faith, e.g.,  “Because I have faith in my friend, I believe in my friend.”  But that sentence really doesn’t tell us much other than I believe in my friend therefore I believe in my friend.  So perhaps grounding belief in faith won’t get us far, as the distinction between faith and mere belief should be a harder line.[3]  That said, in terms of friendship and social relations, perhaps faith is a type of belief that we hold for our friends.  For example, when we say, “I have faith in Joe, he’ll pull through,” we’re not saying anything vastly different from, “I believe in Joe, he’ll pull through.”  If faith can be described as an unwavering, steady belief in a person, place, thing, or institution, then maybe I had it wrong – perhaps belief grounds faith.  But what does this have to do with your faith or belief in one’s friends (and the faith or belief your friends have in you)?  Perhaps a quick story can elucidate this.

Playing video games against people provides a chance to compete, talk shit, and demonstrate the kind of ruthless aggression that should be reserved for a fight or a battle of some kind, then the game is over and it’s all done.[4]  I don’t know when video games, with the exemplars being Madden and currently the NBA 2K series, became such a part of male (and more and more female) competitiveness.  Even guys that don’t play them often still feel the urge not to lose – nobody wants to be bested in a one-on-one situation, even if it’s meaningless.  With that backdrop, a few weeks ago a buddy of mine, B, came through and one of the things we tend to do is battle, as competition just brings out a different part of people and friendly competition is the same way.  So like normal, we got geared up to go to war and it’s intense because we’re rivals and we like to play fighting games of all kinds – boxing, MMA, wrestling, Street Fighter.  My brother once quipped, “Watching two people play a wrestling game is better than watching the stuff on TV – each time y’all punch or reverse, it’s like you actually did it!”  But this would be a different day than most, as my roommate came out to join in the competition, challenging my buddy to a game of NBA 2K13.  My roommate and I have been in an ongoing (one-sided) battle surrounding 2K13, and as I was about to walk Blaze for a moment, I thought this would be an even matchup (my roommate may be loath to admit it, but right now and for the foreseeable future, he’s not beating me).  And amidst the normal banter and shit talking (“I’m gonna yam on ya bitch ass!”  “Get that shit the fuck outta here!!”  “COOKIES!!!”), I told my buddy, “I believe in you, B.  Kick his ass.”  Did I really believe in B?  Not really.  I thought my roommate was going to dust him by 20, mostly because I wasn’t sure how much B had played 2K13 and, like in many things, experience can be an invaluable strength in competition.  But I more so wanted to stick it to my roommate by explicitly expressing that my belief, my faith in B’s abilities were greater than my faith in his, if only to rock his confidence and take him off of his mental game.[5]

I returned from the dog walk to see the finish to an exciting contest, which ended when B pulled away in the 4th quarter.  Like the hype man I am, I turned on the shit talking for a few moments as my dejected roommate soaked in the reality that he’d lost to the unknown challenger.  Then B said, “Man, when you said you believed in me…it really changed how I came at the game.  It was like, ‘Shit, if he believes in me, I believe in me too!”  He looked over and asked me if I did think he was going to win, to which I responded,

“Hell naw.  That was a hell of a win.”

So what’s the connection here?  The placebo effect can be demonstrated even in events like video game competition, but was me telling B that I believed in him (even though I really didn’t) and him believing my belief in him to be true similar to a placebo, or is this a different sort of effect that people can have on other people?  We are social creatures in such a way that I think there’s a convincing case to be made that what happened, beyond the potentially fluke victory,[6] was a result of a particular effect people can have on each other.  Maybe it’s the context that people provide with their beliefs in others – B knew I believed in him and COULD have believed otherwise, namely in my roommate (or neither of them if I thought it was going to be a crappy game).  That my belief in him was my choice (or, perhaps, that B thinks it was) and B’s recognition of my belief in him could play a role in that effect that people have on each other.

But it’s worth wondering, why do we believe in people?[7]

[1] Aristotle is the heavyweight who offers a concept of human flourishing as a good we ought to achieve.  One difficulty of this view is determining what it means to flourish.  Kant also corresponds with a maxim that if you have a talent, you ought to maximize it.

[2] Clearly, if you have friends that are convincing you to do things that are anathema to your constitution, then these aren’t the kinds of friends that will ultimately provide you with what you need to become the best self possible.  It also warrants asking about the nature of friendship if these are the people we’ve come to consider friends.

[3] I’d say that we do have a firm line between belief and faith, at least in definition.  But I don’t think we have it in terms of our normal parlance, particularly when talking about loved ones and friends.  Faith, in this sense, is not the sort of faith we think of as in faith in God, but it’s related.

[4] X-Box Killer from Boondocks is the exception, not the rule.

[5] Video game competition is largely mental.  With so many repetitions, you have a good idea of what inputs will deliver your desired outputs.  The difficulty is that people adjust their strategy depending on their mood.  Calm players stick with their strategies, emotional players feed off of their environment and MOODY players can be thrown off of their game by talking that shit.

 [6] Which it wasn’t – B’s won 2 of the 3 games they’ve played since.  But my roommate took the last two, so they are even competition.

[7] Like why do I believe Charles Barkley and Michael Wilbon were right in saying publicly their comments about Black people using the “n-word.”  It’ll be live tomorrow.  Or why I believe that Johnathan Martin’s treatment is another highlight of why sports is an appropriate arena for discussing race.  Or why I believe it was hilarious that a lineman and a ref got into last Sunday.  But those might be different kinds of belief, and that post is live later this week.

Kicking the Habit

Remember the first time you couldn’t get enough of being around someone?  When being with them imbues you with a sense of exploration, wonder, excitement and emotion?  For some of us, it takes everything we have not to burst out and yell, “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me!”  Others of us go ahead and let that sentiment flow freely, and in either case we are just consumed by our feelings, whatever they might be.  It could be that we truly love this person, think we love this person, feel intimately connected to this person, enjoy this person’s company; there are a myriad of feelings and even more combinations of feelings that overwhelm us, alter our brain chemistry, and change our decision making capabilities.

Yup, you get high.  On love.

It’s one of the purest feeling highs possible; no synthetic or even grown-from-the-earth drug can compare to the high one feels when embarking on a journey with a new companion.  No drug can even fathom keeping you continually high for as long as the journey does.  Every step you take while under the influence of drugs is one step away from being under the influence – the opposite seems to take hold for the journey, as each step you take is one that keeps you further under the influence, increasing your intoxication and your dependence on it.  If there’s one thing people love about being high, it’s getting high-er the next time around and continually chasing that magic feeling of their first (or best) high.

But the magic fades away after awhile.  The appeal of being intoxicated daily loses its luster after a bad trip or a day frittered away being unproductive during peak production season.  But we remember the first high, and we remember it so fondly and our drug is still nearby…surely we can reach that high once again, right?  All it takes is another hit, right?  Just one more hit and I’ll be back in Shangri-La.  By now, we’ve got rituals and customs surrounding our journey drug, and as long as I follow the established rituals and abide by our established norms, then maybe I can just get a piece of that high back.  Getting the whole high might be, admittedly, impossible to get back.  And yet, we yearn for it so badly.  We’ll just take a piece of that high, if only to be able to have just some miniscule access to the whole high we know we can’t get back.  We yearn for it because we depend on that high to keep our day afloat; without it we feel like we’re drowning and flailing away, worsening our situation.  We chase after it because we can’t imagine life without it.  But the whole time, we’re chasing an ideal, a fantasy, a one-time moment that cannot be recreated because that was an experience to enjoy and remember, not chase after forever.

We struggle to reconcile these competing forces – our desire to keep being high (while receiving diminishing returns on one’s highs) versus the knowledge that we should stop chasing that high.  And here I stand, staring at one of many crossroads in life, knowing that walking between them would kill me and choosing one scares me to death.

Drugs do change and have gotten different compounds added to them to increase their potency over time.  The same can certainly be said of people, though increased potency over time can be to your benefit or detriment depending on your tolerance level.  Maybe the relationship between you and your drug of choice (person) can change, much as the drugs themselves change.  But at some point, you have to know when it’s time to kick the habit.  When it’s time to put a halt on everything and re-dress your life in better fitting clothing.  Habits form both to our benefit and detriment – when they work, they keep us on task and on schedule.  When we keep habits too long without examining them or keep ones that aren’t useful to our current situation, those beloved habits become the things we begin to resent in our lives.  But if kicking the habit was so easy, NA and AA wouldn’t have the membership they do across the globe.  Sometimes you need help to kick the habit.

All resources are not valued equally, and that unfortunate truth means some methods will work for some people and the same methods will offend other people.  When it’s time to kick one habit, oftentimes we’ll substitute a new, healthier habit in place of the “harmful habit.”  Some people would argue that cold turkey is the best method, as you go from habit to no habit and release some dependency.  But sometimes it’s good for a new habit to form, as it can remind you of what you ought to be doing with your day rather than reminding you of what you haven’t accomplished with your day.  It’s a helpful means of re-valuing the things in your day that give you the ability to be successful with your day.  Cold turkey, while more difficult, yields the same benefit – your day gets re-valued such that you’re able to adjust and succeed.

Harmful habits can curtail our own flourishing, and nobody in good conscience should prevent their own flourishing.  There is no reason to keep yourself down in order to support or maintain a harmful habit, much like there is no reason not to flourish to the best of your ability.  But I understand the difficulties – I once kept feeling bad every time I had to get off of the phone with one of my drugs because the drug would sound saddened like I was leaving her every time we talked.  Feeling remorseful as though I’d committed harm to the drug influenced how I then dealt with the drug, giving it more time (rather than finding an alternative or holding firm to the line) and as a result, I didn’t flourish how I would have wanted to with her.  I was under the influence and was influenced by the same thing that had me under the influence to begin with, which keeps you even more intoxicated.  She would ask me if I was unhappy but I never felt unhappy, just undersatisfied.  The high wore off and the moment arrived where I wasn’t sure about taking another hit because the last one just didn’t do it for me, for whatever reason.  But it’s difficult to deny a drug when it’s sitting right in front of you.  Especially when you know how high you once got and how great it once felt.  But that’s how you know you’re chasing a high…and that it might be time to kick the habit.

When Life Goes A-Blaze

Blaze asleep

Discipline is a funny thing. It comes when we most need it, but when we want it…well, that’s where the comedy lies. This blog has been all but dead for months when it comes to new material during a period when I had the most time to write. And boy, was there was much to write about. George Zimmerman‘s trial happened while I was in Chicago and the verdict came in as I watched the Cardinals lose to the Cubs at Sluggers, a nearby bar to Wrigley Field. Riley Cooper got caught on video and 2 weeks later it’s released that he’d called someone a nigger at a concert with mostly white people around. After his 4 day breather during training camp (while everybody else continues to take a physical beating), he returned to his starting job at wide receiver when people have been fired for saying or doing similar things. Robin Thicke had naked women in his Blurred Lines video and got shocked by the uproar when the defense was that a woman directed the video so it can’t be objectifying. Syria allegedly used chemical weapons and we’re about to go into World War III. Dr. Sanjay Gupta said weed isn’t necessarily bad (and that he tried it), prompting another national conversation about getting blazed. But I never seemed to muster up the discipline to write. Continue reading

My White Conversation About The N-Word, Pt. 1 – An “Ask Mr. Philosopher” Special

It was a brisk spring evening and after class, a buddy and I were hanging out at a local bar.  Usually when he and I talk, things inevitably come to some sort of race discussion.  And no, I’m not the one bringing it up (usually).  And yes, he’s white.  He’s also the kind of white guy that’s aware of the social boundaries but does want to push them, at times just for the sake of argument.  He’s also second generation immigrant on one side of his family so he offers a unique perspective on cultural issues.  He’s never offended me even though we’ve had some very good back-and-forth on contentious issues (such as his claim that African-Americans is not the right name for the current group of slave descendants – claiming simply American would be more accurate because the connection to Africa was, unfortunately, severed.  I responded that ancestry is enough – Korean-Americans trace their ancestry back to Korea, Filipino-Americans to the Philippines, etc.  Due to the severed connection, African-Americans might not be able to claim a certain country – hence Kenyan-American designating someone born in Kenya, not in America – but both on good faith because of the severed connection and ancestry, the title still fits.  We went back and forth about this for awhile).  This particular repartee was no different, as he took a swig of his beer and asked me, “Why can’t white people say the N word? Continue reading