Untruth & Consequences: Don’t Forget To Hurt

By Tardsie

Yeah, It Sounds Like New-Age Horseshit To Us As Well, But It Turns Out To Be True.

Part 1 of 4: In which a philosophy emerges from among a litany of failures and disappointments, a potential solution is proposed to correct the author’s heretofore intractable behavior, and a great many swear words are gratuitously employed.

When I reflect upon many of the experiences I’ve related in the True-Ass Tales here on Promethean Times, it occurs to me that I very often depict them as flights of vulgar whimsy; the exploits of a lovable man-child who splits the scene when the time comes to clean up the mess; a psychically-retarded archetype from an 80s campus comedy whose self-indulgent antics have neither victims nor consequences, and whose madcap escapades remain wholly independent from the constraints of context.

This assessment is by no means entirely unfair: to a large extent I do tend to view my past both pleasant and painful as a series of amusing and often riotously funny adventures which I can from time to time take from my mental shelf, either to share with another person, or as is so often the case, to revisit for my own benefit. But never–not ever–without context. Context is the stuff around which life is built.

What A Bore It Is To Exercise Your Uniquely Human Capacity To Reflect Upon Your Experiences And In Doing So Benefit From Them, When You Can Just As Easily Hide From Your Own History And Live The Life Of A Goldfish, Swimming From No Place To Nowhere, With Only A Vague Sense Of Where You Are And No Notion Of How You Got There.

However, along with these warm memories of a misspent and overlong youth, I bear also their attendant consequences. Largely, I bear them privately and I bear them by choice. I will bear them all my days. My falls and failures, my humiliations and defeats are, after all, as much an integral part of the bricks and mortar which make up the man I am today as are my triumphs. We’re told time and time again to let go of our pasts, and this is undoubtedly sound advice for some–but not for me. I am my past, and to turn my back on any part of it, no matter how silly, regrettable or downright ugly is to forsake a piece of myself, and I’m not willing to do that. In this way, you could even say I love my failures.

Bob Had Been Romantically Involved With A Total Of Five Women Before He Met Helen, His Wife Of 53 Years. With Only One Success In Six Attempts, Bob’s Romantic Track Record Can Clearly Be Classified A Failure.

I’ve been knocked down a bunch of times in my life, and I’ve got a pretty good idea it’ll happen again. Some of you may know that as a tender lad I spent 30 days in a juvenile detention facility for a crime I didn’t commit (just kidding; I totally did it). I was suspended a few times in junior high and high school, and even kicked out of choir and jazz choir for issues other than my singing voice.¹ I was asked to leave college, too (you can maybe guess why–I only care that you know it wasn’t for academic dishonesty or mistreating women; it wasn’t for grades either). I’ve had my heart broken once and I’ve had my ass kicked a few times. Worst of all, I’ve seen hurt and disappointment on the faces of the people I love the most and known that I was the cause.

What I Really Need Right Now Is Your Pity.

But those once-trying episodes are now just notches on my pistol (or on my bedpost, for those of you who prefer more screwing and less killing in your metaphors); accrued and interest-earning wisdom; funny stories about a very foolish and very fortunate young man who was just naive enough to believe everything would turn out all right in the end. It is not enough to say that I have simply weathered these storms, because that implies a grim acceptance the likes of which will never define me. Make no mistake–I have not simply survived my past; I am not a victim of my history. By choosing the context in which I view my own life, I have not merely vanquished my many failures, but made them my bitch. I’m proud of that. My father died at twenty-six years old: life is just too fucking short to waste it moping around and kicking myself for things I should or shouldn’t have done.

Because You’re A Loser, And Even God Almighty Can’t Abide A Loser.

In the subsequent three installments I’ll discuss the various well-meaning attempts to address my unacceptable behavior with head-shrinking and therapizing and the varying degrees of success with which these efforts were met, ranging from ‘not at all’ to ‘I don’t feel my time was completely wasted.’ For now, I leave you with this:

I can’t articulate a one-size-fits-all method for finding meaning in life; I don’t believe such a roadmap exists. I’m not even sure I can completely articulate such a method for my own life. All I know is that my ship sails on the tempestuous seas of my own past, and the life to which it has brought me is simple, beautiful and undoubtedly far more than I deserve. I enjoy my life. I love and am loved in return. I’m happy. And really, that’s all I ever wanted.

But Don’t Get Me Wrong, Folks–I’m Not Some Blissed-Out Nepalese Holy Hermit–I Totally Enjoy Having Stuff.

¹ Don’t act so surprised–you knew I was a choir queer. Don’t think you can use that term, though–it belongs to us. If you’ve gotta kick somebody, why not go kick a band fag? ∞ T.
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35 Responses to Untruth & Consequences: Don’t Forget To Hurt

  1. Brigitte says:

    Smak, you are truly a gifted writer, a deep soul and funny as hell. I don’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done, you always make me smile, laugh out loud and now, here, with this I just want to hug you — in a platonic, friend kind of way. I swear you are a fav of mine and I LOVE the way you express yourself. Pity you? Hell no. I admire you. You know I love the happy stuff and putting a positive spin on all the trials, failures and all that other stuff that get us to where we are. What make us who we are. I’m getting all misty here — you’re a poet, an old soul and I don’t know what else to say. Thanks for this and I can’t wait to read about those other installments. And, you do deserve it – that happiness thing and loving life thing. I don’t want to say “Awesome” because it’s overused, but you get it.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks so much, Brigitte! I’m also quite fond of the word awesome, and guilty of its overuse. I really appreciate your kind words, and simply for reading this. This and the installments to follow (which are more straight stories about various attempts to ‘fix’ me) are topics I’ve long wanted to discuss, but for whatever reason hadn’t found the proper vehicle. When it finally came, it came fast, and originally was a ginormous, nearly 2K post, so I split it into 3 parts.

      I’m not surprised this resonated with you, Brigitte, because “Brigitte’s Banter” is positively suffused with a delightful joie de vivre that never fails to brighten my day.

    • Smaktakula says:

      And thank you also for thinking I deserve it. You’re an awesome person, and that’s one of the highest things to which a man or a woman can aspire.

  2. whiteladyinthehood says:

    I completely agree with Brigitte! She was right on the money with her comment. You are an exceptionlly good writer (and I’m not just saying that because you have been kind enough to leave nice comments on my blog either!) If the only comments I ever got on my blog were: stay safe, be careful, why don’t you move? I’d quit today – sympathy is the only thing I DON’T want! I’ve done some crazy~ass stuff in my lifetime, it’s kinda even worse to admit because I’m female and it’s looked at differently…you know what I mean…but despite the things that I look back on and remember as cringe-worthy, embarassing, stupid, or even what-the-hell-were-you-thinking…they still add up to who I am today – which is still a happy person (almost all of the time) and okay with life and appreciative for what I do have. So – bring it on!! Can’t wait to read it!

    • El Guapo says:

      You really need to start telling more of those stories, whitelady!

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Chicago Blanca! This one sort of took on an extra significance to me as I was writing it, and it makes me glad to see see your enthusiasm. I really, really appreciate.

      I’ve no doubt you’re a ‘no-pity’ (’cause pitiless has an altogether different connotation) chick; you seem pretty tough. I should have said that I don’t want anyone’s pity until I get sick, at which point I become OmegaBitch: The Whinemaster, and simply ask that the world acknowledge how bad my tummy hurts.

      t’s looked at differently…you know what I mean
      I do know what you mean, unfortunately. It’s an ugly double-standard that’s been with us for a long, long time. I’d like to tell you that I’ve always been an enlightened dude about that kind of thing, but it wouldn’t be true. Many years ago I fucked up a real good thing because I had my head up my ass. In keeping with the theme of this post, that experience taught me a lesson that has served me VERY well in the years since. But it cost me.

    • Smaktakula says:

      a happy person (almost all of the time

      It makes me glad to hear that. Happy people make the world better for everyone. I absolutely believe that increasing the amount of happy people in a given environment (an workplace, home, school, city, etc.) benefits everyone (even the mopey sad-sacks) with an increase in productivity, better health, spontaneous thinking, good judgement (the preceding two qualities not being mutually exclusive), reduced conflict, etc.

      Also, when you say you’re happy “almost all of the time,” remember that mood is only a COMPONENT of happiness. Your mood fluctuates, but happiness is more of a condition, an overall state of being. There’s a very interesting, thorough and scientific (but still readable and engaging) of the topic in Shawn Achor’s very useful The Happiness Advantage.

      I’m generally a pretty cheerful guy, but like everybody, I’m subject to fits of pissiness, pettiness and self-pity. But these things are like clouds passing in the sky (sorry–I’m not trying to go all Buddha on you), they’re not my natural state.

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Without a doubt, our pasts make us who we are, and who we are tomorrow may not be who we are today, because today, too, will soon be the past. The hope is that we have a strong enough core to weather life’s experiences, so that we don’t change for the worse. I have no words of wisdom to add beyond that. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to parts 2 and 3.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Carrie–I’m glad you enjoyed it. As you know, it’s something I’ve been kicking around and it was nice to finally find the proper vehicle by which to articulate it. I think you’re very right about having a strong core. That seems to be a truth that transcends individual philosophies.

      Speaking of which, I sometimes have to be careful, because like a newly-converted religious zealot, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “I’ve found this thing which really works for me, therefor it must also work for you.” I know you see your life in a somewhat different paradigm than the one I’ve described above (and PLEASE don’t think I’m reacting to something I thought I saw in your comments; you’re not the first or only person to occasionally take one of my comments as defensive, angry or exculpatory, and it happens with enough frequency to indicate the problem likely lies in the manner with which I choose to communicate them, and given that this parenthetical notation is roughly the same length as the text which surrounds it, I’d say that my lack of a shut-off switch and weakness for verbal prestidigitation are serving me poorly in this regard), and seeing as how that approach seems to have brought you success and happiness, it’s a good reminder to me not to be a zealot.

  4. renxkyoko says:

    *Speechless*. This is a very profound, and excellent post… no rationalizations, no excuses, no regrets, just acceptance of your past .

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks a lot, Ren! The notions expressed in this piece obviously means a great deal to me, and in the same spirit, so do your kind words. You know, some regrets are harder to shake than others, and to some extent I think we battle this throughout our lives. Perhaps, and I don’t know because I haven’t given it due thought, it becomes harder as we grow older and our experiences begin to accumulate, and with them, like a cancerous cell, the potential for regret.

  5. El Guapo says:

    In the end, when all I have are the stories, I’m going to enjoy the ones I look bad in (with a couple of exceptions) just as much as the ones I look good in.
    Which is a good thing, because I’m pretty sure there are more of the former…

    Looking forward to the next installments, Smak!

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Guap. I’ve heard it often said that “you regret the things you don’t do, not the things you do.” Like any maxim, that should only be taken so far, but I think in a general sense, it’s very true. As I said in an earlier comment, albeit in a different fashion, it’s all how you find your rhythm. Whatever schematic a person finds, borrows or creates to help him or her make sense of this world is okay by me as long as it doesn’t interfere with my own search for the path.

  6. SocietyRed says:

    I’m loving your style!

  7. calahan says:

    I subscribe to Smak for two reason:
    1. His self-deprecating, streetwise authenticity and insight.
    2. He’ll kick my ass if I ever stop reading. I bleed easy!

    • Smaktakula says:

      You’re as sweet as you are handsome, sir!

      2. He’ll kick my ass if I ever stop reading. I bleed easy!

      Despite the very real disadvantage of that generations-old curse which has no-doubt dogged the male members of your clan in the years since they left Calahan’s Holler, Kentucky, you might have a better shot than you’d think. True, I’m a large mammal with the requisite muscle mass required to keep my ungainly body upright, but I’m also slow, oafish and easily winded. Your best bet is to spend about a minute avoiding my comically off-balance lunges and haymaker swings (TIP: Go for the left knee if you get an opportunity; I’ve injured it a couple times). Taunt me for faster effect. After a short time, when I’m heaving, bleary-eyed and disoriented, go in for the kill.

      • calahan says:

        Calahan’s Holler. Ha!

        I appreciate the tip, I really do. I’ve been watching some episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, too, so I’m getting some good moves along with some great fashion options. I’m thinking of wearing a leather jacket that is somehow not clumsy and allows me the mobility and freedom not associated with, say, leather jackets.

      • Smaktakula says:

        Now, I should preface this by saying that the very little I know about kinesiology and physics is derived from the movies, but I’m pretty sure a leather jacket makes you move better. Sounds like a showdown! I’ll make sure I have a really great line for when we finally meet, and I’m gonna write it on my arm so I don’t fuck it up this time like I did when I told the paperboy “Only one of us is getting out of this fight alive, and it won’t be me.”

        Also, a zillion apologies for fucking up the spelling of your name in my reply. As you noted, the town’s proper name is “Calahan’s Holler,” the extra L being lost in a flood sometime in the late 19th Century. I do apologize, though, because I really try not to misspell a dude’s name when it’s RIGHT FUCKING THERE.

        You might think, “Wow! He takes that spelling thing pretty seriously.” If you think I’m bad, you should meet my buddy. He’s got this fucked-up Kraut name, totally fresh-off-the-boat type. Anyway, people are always misspelling and mispronouncing it even when they’re looking right at it. As a result, he’s developed a puzzling antipathy toward the actor Judge Reinhold. It’s all rather sad, really.

      • Smaktakula says:

        Oh, and don’t bother being polite and saying “I hadn’t even noticed” the misspelling, ’cause nobody fails to notice the misspelling of his own name.

      • calahan says:

        After some run-ins with the Revenuers, my relatives left Callahan’s Holler and went underground. In order to throw the police off, they dropped one L and became Calahan. They were simple folks and, at the time, that was the most ingenius idea any of them had ever had. Their second big idea was bathing after they were finished wrestling with the pigs. This hadn’t occurred to any of them, but increasing community disapproval and folks pinching their noses to keep the stench away finally sunk in to the thick skulls of my kinfolk.

        In response to your apology, I would like to change my name altogether. Instead of keeping the spelling that dropped the extra L, I would like to recapture that L. So, from now on, there is no more Calahan, I am just L.

      • Smaktakula says:

        That’s an ingenious idea. And you could totally fuck with people. They’d be like “L? So do you pronounce that ‘Ell’ or what?”
        You: “It’s pronounced Calahan, assface.”

      • Smaktakula says:

        Having loads more class than I do, you might choose to substitute jackanapes (that’s the singular, apparently–who knew?) for assface.

  8. Alex Autin says:

    First of all Smak, your writing is fantastic. It’s rare, very rare, that I find blog posts having such a combination of being both enjoyable and readable. Secondly, the subjects you write about here, while unique to you and your experiences, are universal to everyone — we’ve all done things of which we are both proud as well as regretful. As for the regretful stuff what works for me is to fully acknowledge and accept that I did it (apologize sincerely if necessary), learn, and move on…the sooner all of this is done, the better. I hate rolling around in crap, and see no point in it. I’ve no interest at all in devoting time to the things I’ve fucked up.

    Brilliant post, Smak. Looking forward to the follow ups.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Alex! I’m glad this resonated with you. I’m also glad (and not altogether surprised) that you’re a person who can forgive herself There’s so much unnecessary (it seems that way to me, anyhow) pain in people who have all the ingredients for a great life, but almost stubbornly refuse to see it.

      You seem like a person who knows how to have a good time (and immediately after I wrote that I thought it sounded like a stiff pickup line, only slightly better than ‘You young ladies strike me as the kind who might consent to relations with a man such as myself’), which I think is a great ingredient in a person.

      • Alex Autin says:

        I’ll take that as a compliment actually, Smak. I really do think that the vast majority of pain is completely self-induced, and, as you mention, quite unnecessarily. It’s quite rare that we become victims without first giving full consent to be so.

      • Smaktakula says:

        I’ll take that as a compliment actually, Smak
        Well, I certainly wish you would, as that is the manner in which it was intended.

  9. jmmcdowell says:

    Hmm. I was a band fag, but girls didn’t get ridiculed as much as the guys, of course. Sometimes that double standard has its perks. I’m not one for forgetting the past. We’re more likely to keep making the same mistakes if we do. But we should learn from it and move forward with our lives. I know that’s sometimes easier said than done, but wallowing in memories and what ifs doesn’t make things better.

  10. This is a wonderful and touching post. I think we can all relate. For me one of the hard lessons was that you can’t just chop off the ‘bad’ bits of yourself and put them somewhere else. There is no ‘pure’, good version of you, just the current, muddy one. Which sucks because then it means you are responsible. I look forward to the follow up, and kudos for your honesty.

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