Author: Sam Neumann

Apologies

If the words “I’m sorry” are followed by the word “if,” it is not a real apology.

As the saying goes, a good apology has three parts:

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. It’s my fault.
  3. What can I do to make it right?

Only the ego causes us to stray from this formula.

What Anxiety Feels Like

I’m going to tell you a story.

Last night I had probably the worst bout of anxiety of my lifetime. If not the worst, definitely top five. In the grand scheme, it wasn’t a huge deal, because I was at home, safe and alone with my wife, so all I had to do was lie down and ride it out. It was also self-inflicted; I did some things I know can cause it, and knowing full and well I was putting myself at risk, I went ahead and did them anyway. So that part was my fault, and it was stupid, and I won’t do it again.

But lying there in bed, hoping and praying that the madness would just release me long enough to close my eyes and go to sleep, I had one lucid thought:

Nobody knows what this is like.

Now, that’s not totally true. A lot of people deal with anxiety/depression/panic disorders, and while it’s impossible to know that anyone is feeling the exact same thing you feel inside your own head—it can feel pretty lonely in that locked room—chances are good I’m not the only one on earth who’s experienced these very feelings. But every time you have an attack like this, it feels like you’re the only one it’s ever happened to, because it’s terrifying, and it’s odd to think that others are going through these same things and not talking about them.

Because that’s the thing; we don’t talk about them. I’ve gone most of my life without mentioning this to anyone, and just recently have I begun confiding in my closest friends and family members. There are two reasons for this:

  1. It’s embarrassing. I don’t know why, but the idea that my brain does things to me that I can’t control, and these things can be awfully scary, isn’t something I like to share. It makes me feel weak, and crazy.
  2. It’s extremely hard to explain. The words we use for this stuff—anxiety, panic, etc.—do a terrible job summarizing what you actually feel. When I hear “anxiety,” I think, “oh that person must be worried about something.” At least I did, before this shit started happening to me.

30

I’m 30 now, the age I was always meant to be. This seems like a good time to write a post with some subheads of conclusions I’ve reached in three decades. Luckily, I have subheads AND conclusions, though I reserve the right to modify both.

1. The work is its own reward.

For me, “the work” is writing. (Also sometimes photography, and frequently video editing, but in this particular instance, I’m mostly talking about writing.) For you, it might be something else. Woodworking, perhaps. Or design. Or maybe it’s writing. Regardless, in any creative endeavor, it’s easy to get caught up in the end result.

What will I do with this?

Will anyone buy this?

Will I ever finish this?

For me, these thoughts have been often prevalent. What’s the point of it all, anyway? Money? Acknowledgement? Surely the work must have a concrete, tangible, validating end result to make it worthwhile, yes?

Through a fair amount of seeking, I’ve found the answer to be, “not really.” These things are nice, yes, and we need the occasional sprinkling of them to keep motivation (I do, anyway). But the truth is, the real reward is just the work itself. Not even the final product, but just the work. The process of sitting down to write, or firing up the space heater in the garage and getting into a hunk of pine (or ash? Oak? Whatever you people use). The process. The challenge. The act of engaging, of concentrating, of working through it. Of consciously tuning out distractions and giving the time to yourself to do your work. This is the gift. The cathartic, unique, independent practice of doing your work. And, when it’s over, of having done the work.

That’s where the reward lies. And, whatever the medium, that’s the reason we started doing it the first place. The purpose is the work, and the work is the purpose.

(For more on this, I highly recommend Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Right up there with any book on craft/process. Motivating, enlightening, and an easy read.)

The One Thing I’ve Read That Actually Explains the Trump Thing

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It’s Not About Red And Blue States–It’s About The Country Vs. The City

I posted this to Facebook, but I’m putting it here, too, because this is by far the best thing I’ve read in attempting to explain how the Donald infiltrated American politics. Kudos to friend of the Lodge Zach Barnett for bringing it to my attention.

How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind. Via Cracked.

Yes. Freaking Cracked. It took the guy from Cracked Magazine to examine this in an honest way. God help us all.

Here’s why it’s good:

Here Are Some of My Least Favorite Phrases

“Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

No shit. Who’s saying it is? I’ve never once thought, “life is kind of a dress rehearsal.”

What’s the analogy here–we’re all just playing dress-up and pretending? No one thinks that. Everyone understands that life is actual, real life. Who are the people out there who think life is a dress rehearsal and need to be told it isn’t? I’ve never met one.

“Life’s hard. Wear a helmet.”

I’ve never understood this one. Again, the allegory is lost on me…is it because hard things can damage your head if they hit it? The hard/helmet thing…is that what’s at work here? Literally or metaphorically, wearing a helmet throughout life does not make sense. Am I dumb for not getting this? Should I have worn my helmet?

“A hot second.”

How long is this, actually? No one’s been able to tell me. How is it different from a normal second? Why is it hot? Please have the bugs work out before introducing your hip phrase into the general population. Beta test or something.

Faith vs. Religion

god-mohawk-cartoon-characterI’ve been on a spiritual journey of late. I’ll spare you all the details—they’re scattered and frankly hard for me to corral—but in the last few years I’ve been trying to reconcile my feeling of connection with a higher power with the seemingly arbitrary (and sometimes hypocritical) boundaries of organized religion. I think we all have that connection, actually; I think a spiritual longing is a deeply embedded part of the human race. It’s part of us, the want for a connection with God. Some call it Christianity, some Islam, some fishing. Even atheism is a form of faith—such a steadfast belief that the only things that exist in the universe are those we can perceive with our limited human senses takes more faith than most religions, in my opinion.

But for years now, I’ve asked myself, “why this religion?” Can it really be that a single set of rules and regulations is the one way, truth, and light, and all others (most of which are shockingly similar at their cores) are flat wrong? What a coincidence it would be that the religion I was born into is the only one that counts. I’m already white and male. I can’t be that lucky.