More and More About Nothing

Cult

/kəlt/

noun

  • a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
  • a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
  • a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

All three of us had just finished our martial arts workout. So we decided to go to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant and refuel. I had attended K-12 with Mary. She was the one who introduced me to the martial arts school. Standing just short of my height, she was attractive and assertive. Her deep brown eyes conveyed a depth that most women her age had yet to reach. Dustin was God's gift to martial arts with a body that rivaled the Greek Gods. I'd always found myself competing against him in everything, and consistently shown up short. Which was great for drilling my ego into the ground. Mary had a huge crush on Dustin. Again, the Greek God gift thing. Again, my ego.

"We're like a cult," Mary said.

"With all the bowing?" Dustin asked.

She nodded, then chuckled, then quickly checked the restaurant to make sure none of the black belts were around.

I chuckled. "Imagine if they were here, listening to us talk like this."

"They'd be pissed," Dustin interjected.

I kind of liked all the bowing. We were instructors at the school. Students walking in and out had to bow to us to show respect for the teachers. In turn, we had to bow to the black belts when leaving or entering the school. After each workout, we would all sit on the mat, like little school children, and the grandmaster would lay some wisdom on us. To question him, however, would be like throwing a shoe at him, and his subordinates would shout, "You've offended me. You've offended my family," and proceed to kick us out.

"You know," Dustin said, "they preach about honor and being humble, but they almost got away with stealing our fundraising money."

With twinkles in her eyes, Mary stared at him and covered her mouth in shock. "For the London trip?"

"Yeah," I said, "but Penn protested and the grand ol'master allowed us to have the money we worked hard for."

Penn was Dustin's and my teacher. Penn was one of the few that Dustin and I had termed thinkers. Everyone seemed to drink the grandmster's koolaid. We knew this because they spoke in his words instead of using their own. Sorta like a fifth grader repeating facts instead of internalizing the lessons.

Mary asked, "Wasn't the fundraising done to pay for the London trip?"

"Yup," Dustin answered.

I huffed. "It'll help offset the costs of flying there, paying for the rooms, the tournament, the food, the new matching uniforms we had to buy, all to make this guy look good."

Dustin shook his head. "In other words, we're paying for it all."

"You know they did this to another team who competed in China," Mary said.

"Yup. We heard."

"Didn't they raise a lot more money though?" I asked. 

Mary nodded. Eyes wide open. Meaning it was a lot of money.

"Crystal couldn't go because of what they did," I said. "She has two kids. There was no way she could pay for the whole thing on her own."

"Or even a part of it," Dustin said. He was close to her. The Greek God thing again.

Mary tapped her lip. "Grandmaster said it was to pay for his coaching services. But that's not how the fundraiser was marketed."

"It was to help pay for the plane ticket to China," she finished.

"Expensive," Dustin commented.

"For a mother of two," Mary said. "Very."

"I think we got our money because it wasn't as much as the China trip."

"I was worried the school would try and steal our money," I said. "But Penn assured us that it wouldn't be. And he followed up on that promise."

"Yup," Dustin said. "We're like a cult."

It wasn't long after that evening that several of us had decided to leave the school. The head instructors hadn't practiced what they preached. They fundraised through carwashes and other activities to help pay for material wealth under the guise of helping the school. They forced students to compete in tournaments to help fund martial arts organizations through tournament fees. They even tried to coax a brown belt to go easy in a full contact fight because his opponent was from a sister school. That brown belt didn't listen and won the fight handily. So the grandmaster threatened the brown belt that if he ever disobeyed him again, he would beat him.

It was a full contact fight. You can't enter a tournament where you're supposed to tear each other apart and hold back. That's a good way of getting seriously hurt in a game where you're suppose to seriously hurt your opponent. And for anyone to ask you to hold back in this situation is an idiot. 

The straw that broke the horse's back was when Penn had proposed several changes that would have improved the school, but he was rejected. A few weeks later, those same changes were being implemented without giving credit to Penn. He wasn't asking for money. So why had the school stolen his ideas?

Now, one of my spies told me they had formed an organization in order to certify their students' ranks. Sort of like a registry. What do they ask for in return? Cheddah. Moolah. A grip. Of course.

This makes no sense. If you've ever watched any cheesy Kung-fu movie, one of the pillars of martial arts is having a strong mind, the belief in yourself.

In other words, I can give someone a black belt, but that doesn't turn them into a lethal weapon. Or vice versa, you can have all the tools in the world to fight. But if you're not mentally ready for it, then those tools are useless. It's sorta like having a garage full of tools, a lift, air pump, and manuals. But if you don't know how to work on a automobile, then your garage and everything in it is useless.

And why would someone need to have their names registered to an organization as a black belt? Are they not one anymore if their names aren't recorded as such?

Think of it this way. If you're a skilled mechanic, and someone asks you to register your name as a mechanic, otherwise you won't be recognized by our organization as a mechanic, are you then not a skilled mechanic? That would be a hell to the no.

The funny thing is they always talk about putting your ego away. That ego can get in the way of personal growth. Isn't the need to have your name recorded as a black belt ego driven? That would be a hell to the yes.

This is interesting to me because I've been writing about insecurity in my posts lately. Here, we have a cult-like organization who has a number of followers willing to pay a fee to be a part of something that really has no meaning. They profess a strong mindset, but when they found my post about them in my teeny tiny corner of this massive thing we call the Internet, they had made the effort to comment against it. How insecure can they be? And it would be one thing if I mentioned the school, the instructors, the location, the system they teach, anything to point in their specific direction. But I didn't. And still they needed to comment on my little post, outing themselves.

So am I insecure that I left that school? No. I loved my time there. I made some lifelong friends. So why am I talking about them? I just needed cannon fodder to write about.

Cannon fodder

noun

  • soldiers regarded or treated as expendable in battle
  • an expendable or exploitable person, group, or thing

 

You Have a Small Penis

Pick an apple. Put it in a barrel. Pick another. Put it in the barrel. Do this enough times and you'll get a bad apple. That's just the nature of life. So it is with friends.

"He's highly insecure," I said, remarking on a friend of ours who had went off on us for a very severe problem. What problem you might ask? Forget about a bear chasing you. Forget about a gunman holding a gun pointed at you. And forget about the terrorism happening in the world. The problem: Halloween party. My girlfriend asked why some of us needed to bring food and drink when other guests would only bring food or drink for the party. I know, first world problems. 

Our gentile friend got really pissed off and berated my girlfriend. So she left our long-running group chat because she didn't want to read his rants. I wanted to attack him (verbally...ok...physically too) but I simply asked for the reasoning behind why the core group needed to contribute more versus others. His answer made complete and total sense: It was his party, he made the rules, if you don't like it, then don't come.

This obviously didn't go over well with us because we were his friends, and none of us would treat each other in that way, let alone go on a tirade about such a small and stupid issue.

Another in the group, I'll call him The Politician, talked to this reasonable fellow, and he professed that we attacked him, that we didn't appreciate his efforts for putting the party together, that he spent a hundred dollars of his own money (your choice bud), so the fact that we wanted clarification upset him. He wanted to disband the group chat, and the Politician said, "This isn't your group. Even if you disband the group, the rest of us will reform it without you." Our former friend shook his fists at the gods and lamented and demanded that this was his group. But eventually he decided to leave the group chat, and several days later unfriended me on Facebook. Oh, the horror!

So when we all came together to discuss this very important issue, I had made the statement, "He's highly insecure."

"Everyone has insecurities," The Politician said. And he's right.

But here's the thing. Our former friend is insecure as a person, a human being, maybe even as a man. Because I'm Chinese, he kept poking fun at me, saying I have a small penis. I guess it would be funny a few times, but he mentioned this to me almost every single time we hung out. I don't know why he was obsessed with my penis, but maybe he's a latent homosexual and has yet had the courage to come out of the closet. And this isn't a sneaky way of calling him a fag. That would be too good for him.

And every chance he had, he'd tell me if he was single, he'd have this girl in the bathroom, or that he's slept with many women, or that it was his girlfriend who had asked him out. Yes, he has a girlfriend. And, no, she didn't ask him out. Her culture is known to be very conservative, so she wouldn't have been the aggressor. Hell. American women rarely find themselves the aggressor. And that's the other thing. He continually makes fun of his girlfriend's culture.

I know. He ain't dat brite. 

His girlfriend tried to help by saying that he has a lot on his plate. Sorry, my lady. But we are all adults. We all have a lot on our plates. And having a lot of plates let alone heavy ones doesn't give anyone the excuse to treat anyone like shit. This is a telltale sign of insecurity. People express it by attacking friends, loved ones, putting down friends, or covering them by drinking, binge eating, doing drugs, or unfriending people on Facebook.

I bring this issue up because insecurities are a norm for all human beings. I feel short sometimes. Other times I feel unsuccessful because I've yet to be published while others younger than me have found huge success in the publishing world. But I don't attack anyone because I feel this way. Eventually, these feelings will go away because that's the nature of being human. Waves ebb and flow. We wake from sleep, and sleep after being awake. Flowers open in sunlight and close after sun fall. Our feelings change, we get over stuff, we move on. Confidence isn't just the absence of doubt. It's the ability to go on while being mired in it.

Are You a Settler?

Why is the only guy with white pants sitting on the ground?

In a rare moment, I was having a soulful conversation with a friend at a restaurant. The waitress had filled our glasses with water, and I commented that she was very attractive. So I asked my friend if he'd date her.

"She's a little out of my league," he said.

I was taken aback by this statement because I don't believe in that. Certain people may not be matches for each other for many, many reasons, but to say that one person has more value as a human being than another is ludicrous to me. On the other hand, it's no surprise that we think this way, given that the media pounds this idea into our consciousness. Our worship of celebrities whether they have anything meaningful to offer or not, our over obsessive want for things like the best tech, and our need to compare who is better than who partly derived from our day jobs and sports have blinded us to what it means to be human.

My friend's assessment of himself was this: the older he gets, the lower the bar plummets for the woman that he thinks he can get. Basically, he'll settle.

Not only is this an insult to the woman, but it's an insult to him. Meaning, he's telling himself that he isn't deserving of anyone of quality. Quality or beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. 

I tried to convince him that whether he deserves the woman of his dreams, whatever that may be, is a choice he makes. I also told him that a high quality woman requires that he have a high level of self worth. And this is where I made the mistake, but I didn't know how to describe self worth without using that term.

My main character in my book had lost his son in a very tragic incident. Ever since then, he guilts himself into believing that he's a bad father. From my point of view, the author who is The Creator, my main character was powerless to save his son. Period. Before this incident, he was a fantastic father. But layering this guilt upon himself has skewed his view of the world and forces him to continue making mistakes with his other children that can be detrimental. Because he was a great father before, he still has it in him to be a great father now. But he simply isn't because he believes he isn't. And same goes for self worth.

Building self worth is a lie. In other words, we inherently value ourselves. When confronted with danger, we automatically try and find a way to survive, fight or flight. Our bodies are built to self preserve. If we try to kill ourselves by holding our breaths, we'll faint, and our bodies will breath, suicide thwarted. Suicide jumpers who have survived have wished they hadn't jumped after jumping. I duck when I hear a sound like a gun shooting. Self preservation is born innate within us all. 

And so is self worth. It's when we lather lies upon ourselves—that we aren't worth anything—that we cover our innate worth. And because adults are so good at holding onto thoughts that thoughts naturally multiply, forcing us to hold onto those same degrading thoughts even more, multiplying ever more so, creating a vicious cycle. And suddenly, the lie that is low self esteem becomes real. So if my friend believes he needs to lower his standards to attain a woman as he gets older, then that thought becomes his reality. The sad part is that he can easily change his reality by simple observation.

Every color in the rainbow exists in our world. We, however, don't take notice of all of them or even some. It isn't until we ask ourselves, our minds, to look for a particular color that we see it. But once we do that, any other color is likely not to get noticed. So if you were to look around and note all the things that are red, you'll likely miss the things that are yellow, and vice versa. In turn, our minds act like a filter.

Without looking like he's psycho, my friend should take note of who is checking him out throughout his day. Be it man or woman, he should only acknowledge people who seem to show interest. At first, the number of people will be scant. That's because he's learning to see what those queues are. His intuition will teach him what those are as long as he's not delusional. As several days go by, the number of people he perceives that are attracted to him will increase. What he'll realize is that he is an attractive man. Maybe not to everyone—no one is universally attractive to everyone—but his mind will soon learn that he has more options than he ever allowed himself to believe.

Masks That We Wear

Who loves dating? Who hates it? I remember one of my former friends saying to her husband as we walked by a North Beach bar in San Francisco, "God, I'm so glad I have you."

I smile as I think about that moment. Not because I hate dating, nor do I love it. I embrace it as I would a dentist appointment. I's gots ta gets my teef cleaned. Or suffer some severe bad breath and painful cavities.

Now, I smiled because she's a bitch and she causes all the conflict in her relationship. She had asked me before she committed to her wedding vows if I could teach her husband how to be more outspoken. I laughed and said no. Because her husband was naturally effeminate, and as a result not loud. I guess I'm loud.

Dating various women for about a year, I've thought about why one out of two marriages fail. And it has a lot to do with the images in our heads. Just like my friend, the bitch, she had an image in her mind as to what her husband should act like. And believe me. She had a massive list of improvements for her husband and how their marriage should look like. It all came down to what other people perceived of them. He needed a college degree. He should have a good, proper job. They should have a house, not a condo. They should have children because the societal norm is to have children. They needed a minivan because that was how you cart around your children. Sedans just ain't cuttin' it no more. They should do family things.

Lawd help mah soul.

Within my circle of friends, one of the women had complained about my humor and subject of conversation. Apparently, when I was talking to a friend of mine, we had made some lewd jokes. That's how guys talk to each other. Women, too, when men aren't around, right? She complained to one of the guys, and he came up to us and asked if we could be more considerate.

Here's tha thang: the conversation was between me and another guy (grammar!). If she overheard us, that ain't my problem. I can't control what she listens to. And if she took offense, then that is 100% her issue because I can't control her delicate sensitivity. Then she put her foot down and said she would never hang out with the group if I was there. In my mind, I as like:

So how does this relate to the divorce rate in the good old You Ess of Hay? I wanted to use 'aye' but that sounds like 'eye'.

Our friend said that if this girl tells people that we're rude or lewd or crude or nude or that we like food, then our chances with some of those women will die. Die. End! Forever go away! Like never come back!

Oh. Mah. Gawd!

For me, if a girl can't keep up with me—humor, spontaneity, physically, honest conversation—or at least makes an attempt at some level, then she and I should not be in a relationship. Can that change in the future? Depends if she can keep up with me in the future. On the flip side, there are women that I can't keep up with, and we should not be together. This isn't a black and white rule that I live by. But it's a good guideline.

Why is it a good guideline?

Yeah, I would so love to see more of your family photos

Yeah, I would so love to see more of your family photos

Let's think about a first date. The guy picks up the girl, opens doors, pulls out chairs, suggests things on the menu, has vanilla conversation, avoiding sensitive subjects like politics and religion, and pays for dinner. What a guy. Aw.

The girl smiles, laughs at every joke, orders a salad and a light entree, holds her farts, excuses herself to fart, sits with good posture, and has vanilla conversation, avoiding sensitive questions like what's your FICO score, how steady is your job, do you have STDs, do you live with your mother? So nice.

The date ends and both have had a pleasant evening and decide a second outing should be on tap. Yay...

I'm itchy

I'm itchy

One month in...

"I love you."

"I love you more."

"You hang up."

"No, you hang up."

Three months later...

He loves sports and spends his Sundays with his buddies yelling at the boob tube. She'd rather have him spend time with her.

She loves shopping, but he never goes with her.

Both see these things as speed bumps and continue on.

A year later...

They're living together. He doesn't make the bed, clean the sink after every use, leaves his clothes all over the floor, and he doesn't like talking about anything of depth.

She has more and more girls' nights out, seems anal about cleanliness and prettiness, and gets pissed off that he won't go to church with her on Sundays.

But they've invested so much in their relationship that they get married.

Five years later...

"I hate you!"

"I hate you more!"

"Hang up!"

"No, you hang up!"

Why is one arm longer than the other?

Why is one arm longer than the other?

Had they been more real with each other, they may have avoided a long relationship that ended in divorce. If church is important to the girl, then she better freakin' tell the dude. If sports and spending time with his best buds is important, he better not hide that shit.

So back to me, if a woman hates my humor, then we ain't meant to be. I don't believe in the church, so a religious girl ain't for me unless she's cool with letting me have my own beliefs. This shit needs to be out in the open. But on first dates and in social gatherings, we're so concerned with how people will see us if we're real, drying up our dating pool, that we wear masks and settle on the next best thing, which isn't best at all. Not even good.

However, if you are in a relationship that you want to save, and there's issues between the two of you, then one simple way of solving those issues is look at the images of what you think your relationship should look like and throw them out.

Like my bitch friend, she had a mountain of ideas of what her man should be, what her marriage should be, what her life should be, and she hated it all. I know she hated it all because all she did was complain, yell, and get really pissed off, like if she was on a continuous period.

image.jpg

Once you get rid of these societal norm images and allow your relationship to blossom on its own, then you can decide if your partner's quirks are something that you can live with. If you can't, then you've got to make a decision.

So where does this leave me? I'm still single. Not that that's a bad thing. It's good in a way because I can continue to explore other women and watch myself play the game, but I can't help but feel alone. So many people either want a relationship or enter one expecting it or the other person to make them happy. From that standpoint, I am alone. Because as I explain that happiness cannot come from another person, it can only come from within, I receive discerning looks as if to say, of course happiness comes when we connect with another person. If it doesn't, then why do humans want to connect? Simply put, it is our nature, just as it is the nature of water droplets to merge when they touch.