When I breathe in, I think to myself…

…I am breathing in.  This is mindfulness, taught the Buddha of my youth.  For all I know those words have been rewritten and attributed to someone else by now.  The great thing about living in this fucking post-truth world is that if I find myself growing more and more demented as I deteriorate, I can kind of hope that maybe I am just being gaslit.  Am I really remembering wrong or did someone newspeak me again?

But I digress.  When I was in counseling for PTSD and some other shit I brought home, as well as some shit I took over there with me, the counselor at the vet center wanted me to practice mindfulness, but not the type I learned from my buddy the Buddha.  It was more behavioral modification, think B.F. Skinner.  I loved it.  I never could get him to understand how the one aided the other, though.  He was compassionate, but kind of scripted.  What can you expect of a Marine, though?  Their skillset is staying the fuck on mission and not over-thinking it too much.  I was never as good a killer as maybe I could have been, because the Army wasn’t able to beat the smartass out of me, and maybe the Marines would have succeeded.  But, my Dad was a Marine, and he failed, so fuck em.

Anyway.  I am a renaissance man, or I try to be, or at least I tell myself I try to be.  I certainly might find myself stuck in old routines, if I get lazy with my self awareness.  Do you want freedom, dear reader?  Learn to anticipate your actions by analyzing your decisions, and then CHOOSE to do something smarter than just react.  Seems simple, and it is.  But it can be fucking tedious, maybe, and it forces us to look at our worst self in order to analyze what put us into that sub-routine.  And a lot of us don’t want that.  It is why addiction is a thing, to all sorts of things.  My secret is narcissism.  I find myself fucking fascinating as a character in the play I am narrating.  I find myself asking myself the director, “What is my motivation here?” and since I am a good director, I confer with the actor and I am bored with this metaphor.  But I observe myself.  And I think it made me a better person.

Like what would jesus do but for rational people.  I forced myself to be honest with my role in things that went south.  I learned from good leaders in the military that that was what a leader did, they didn’t pass the blame they figured it out, unfucked it the best they could, shot straight with the platoon when they had a chance, but didn’t ever bullshit them.  I don’t know why it took me so long to treat myself with the same respect.

If you want to fix your finances, for me, the trick was to monitor it closely.  I felt so stupid putting all the nickels and dimes I wasted by trading convenience for frugality that it made me more frugal.  My quality of life didn’t change, just the order in which I did things.  I KNEW I would want a soda and a candy bar around 3pm, so I packed one with my lunch instead of getting them out of the machine.  Same thing works with being the best person I can be.  I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do believe that we can make a hellscape of THIS life if we loathe ourselves.  Seems the most important thing to do, whether this world is all we got or I am wrong and will burn in hell for disbelief, is to be the person we can spend time with.  Either way, I can say I lived the best I could with the data at hand.  If I loathe myself, and then die and have to live with myself for eternity.  Fuck, the irony makes me shiver.

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