The Problem Of Using Consumers As Gimmicks: They Call You Out

There is, in Canada, a telecom company that runs a mental health “chat/fundraiser” for the mentally ill. It takes the form of having 5Cents going towards mental health for every message sent to its hashtag channel. It promotes mental health “validity” by helping raise awareness. It seems too good to be true.

And it is. This telecom also regularly overcharges its clients, normal or not, and makes no effort to correct this practice, despite having been in the business of mobile devices for decades, and even after having been outed by not just one or two TV news channels. So is there any wonder when one questions just what is in it for them to help the mentally ill?

First of all, the texting isn’t free for the mental health user. Then there is the profitability of using what could be termed “a gimmick”: for every 5Cents that goes (questionably) to “mental health”, at least 10Cents goes to the company. Thirdly, there is no accountability as to what they do with the 5Cents per text that they accrue.

But what is egregious is when they try to censor the freedom of expression for those who wish to criticize normaloids in a tweet to their room. There are many of us who are frustrated, no—bitter—over what the average normal, non-ill person says about those of us who are mentally ill. It’s bad enough that they treat us like pariahs. But when normaloids get together, they enjoy a good banter at our expense.

Oh, normaloids have called us many things. There is no recourse, either. They can’t be charged for hate crimes since the mentally ill are known to hallucinate and get paranoid. Even if you caught them on a recording, the odds are in their favour. Good odds. As a paranoid schizophrenic, I can tell you that we are at the bottom of the food chain.

What I found difficult to accept is that this telecom issued a public campaign to get people like me to “choose our words wisely”. I think I’d be too narcissistic or paranoid to think that it had to do with me, personally. But, I had just been tweeting to their channel that “everybody is a c*nt when it comes to the mentally ill”. You can’t say that word in Canada. Yet, I was giving myself a voice out of frustration. I was offering something worth talking about.

Why is this difficult? It’s because you should hear the things normaloids say about us crazies when they figure out that you’re not right in the head. As if we could help it. Mental illness is genetic, biological, and triggered by our social environment. If, as a fetus, you had a bad chemical wash in your brain that was out of your control, and, after birth, became “a difficult child”, being whipped until a second chemical wash of suicidality was introduced, completely out of your control and undeserved, well, would I be wrong for calling you a lunatic and shunning you, too?

That’s what I mean. Finally, we have a forum sponsored by a major corporation, and they’re afraid we are too expressive. All the while, doing nothing to fight the good fight and use their coffers to stop stigma. How? By doing more. Call out the offending normaloids as committing hate crimes. But no, they sit comfortably in their offices, ignoring perhaps the homeless guy on the street, and running ads on television that we are too careless with our words. Really? I mean, really? Is the whole mental health hashtag for this big telecom just a gimmick?

I am ashamed at times to call myself Canadian, but not more than to call myself mentally ill. People Iike those who work at this telecom made sure of both of these.

Addendum

And here it is, right on CBC.ca’s website.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bell-employees-stressed-by-sales-targets-1.4418876

And you doubted me?

What The Point Is Of Doing Anything

I have been struggling with this question for some time now. Actually, since I was fifteen and had given up on my faith-based lifestyle, I became lost. What is the point anymore? Life no longer had a Higher Being (in this case I was a church-goer); life certainly had no purpose because, like the wisest man ever once said, we all end up dead. I realized early on in my first year of university that we go to school, get a degree, get a job, find a mate, have kids, get a dog, celebrate our anniversaries, see our kids off to college, welcome our grandkids into the world, retire, play golf, and die. Not a bad life…if you’re into entertaining yourself until you die. It is just not enough for me to keep on living.

I do not see the worth of life. Is it in a cartload of groceries? A case of Coke Zero? A good stash of weed to set you up for the weekend? A wad of cash? A vacation to somewhere romantic? A weekend roll in between the sheets? What is it that we hang on to? What keeps us going?

That’s exactly what counsellors ask you when you have poured your heart and guts out to them. Frankly, they’re tired. They’re tired of hearing the same melodramatic crap day-in day-out. So they devised this plan. They’re going to ask YOU, yes you, why you want to keep on living. Then they pretend you have a lilt in your voice when you say your dog or that you sound different when you talk about fly fishing, as if those were enough. It’s enough for them. Honestly, they just want their paycheque, and to go home to their loved ones and to their narcotic of choice. YOU are just one of their many cash cows.

Millennials are a step ahead of us. They were born to no purpose. We have already left them a legacy of hate, drugs, a sense of entitlement, sexual permissiveness, and the Internet. Some might learn to play the guitar really well. Some might use their intellectual frustrations to code beautifully. But they really are a product of our missteps as a generation of an aim-free society. We cannot blame them for the journeys they are on. After all, they started out as babes in the woods like the rest of us have, and even if genetically better or worse, they are of our creation in every sense of the word, for better or for worse.

They are a step ahead of us because they have figured out at a very early age not to be disillusioned by the meaningless of achievement. What meant so much to our ancestors, mean nothing to them. They turn to easy pleasure, or sadism. They have internalized the message that there is no meaning, and so live like kings on death row. Even Billy Graham becomes irrelevant. He speaks from the grave in his not-so-carefully curated YouTube vids, and even when he hits the mark, he also misses it. He does not speak for our times. He spoke for the generations previous to us, the ones no longer alive. I have tried this route. It does not work once he tells the audience to “be sure to go to church on Sunday”, because the churches of his time, and the churches of today, are fundamentally different. If no church was perfect in his day, then every church holds some form of predation in its mandate, today. I personally will never enter a church again until my sibling or remaining single cousins decide to use a church for their wedding, which they won’t.

I started writing this article because I was asking Google what point there is to life. Finally, I realized, after a few clicks, that many others were asking this same question. I felt if I were to write anything worthwhile, it would be regarding this topic. The reason is obvious: because it is relevant. I am sure that is identifiable by now. Some published authors have said this question made them conclude that because there is no meaning, there is absolute freedom. Meaning is in the moment, to paraphrase fourth-hand what Mark Manson discusses in his book, “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck”. It means that we are free from the strictures of rules, religion, social embarrassment, and self-made authorities. There is no right or wrong. We do what we please as long as it doesn’t hurt or tread on others’ rights and well-being. If people want to stop you, you can call them “haters”, hold a protest, mock them on late-night TV, but, remember that, rightfully and maybe legally, they cannot stop you anyway. Morally, they are entitled to their problems. But, they cannot stop you. If they do try to, and you are not harming another soul, animal, person’s property, endangering a child, etc., or yourself (though that is questionable to the French), the authorities are not able to stop you. Of course, this depends on which country you’re in, but I would refer to Geneva for your bill of human rights, and not the local authorities. You may have to put up with a bit to stay out of the criminal justice system, but ultimately, human rights are human rights are human rights. A temporal, and hence temporary, leadership, for however long that lasts, cannot take that away from you. A dictatorship might, though.

And so, that is the point—that there is no point. We are random, floating dots on a timeline where we can believe what we want, and none of anything makes anything it refers to necessarily true. So, buck up, live it up, stay alive, and carve out your own reality that makes you and your endeared ones happy. If you want to believe in religion, by all means go ahead. But, like as the meme goes, if you try to wave it in my face like a free willy, then we have a problem.

Fighting The Behemoth

It used to be easier writing poetry in the past than now. The so-called muse would strike often, perhaps. Or it might have been the pre-Internet mindset, which demands a protocol of thinking so like a mathematician that the magic of life had been sucked out of the brain after two weeks of being online. Yet, one doesn’t miss a day of using the Internet; there is no prohibition, nor are there inhibitions, to do so. So, we sit during lunch hours, catching up with Facebook friends, or quirky but ephemeral Instagram posts. And more. We are addicts.

There’s nothing new in being an addict. The rituals are all the same whether you are grinding coffee beans or preparing the popcorn before turning on the television. (Yes, I enjoy that antiquated piece of technology.) The rewards usually are instant, and then diminish with use. The worst thing is that in almost all cases of addiction, it’s often wasted time and energy.

Can we stop the behemoth? That is, can we save this Maiden Poetry from being blackened into oblivion? We can only try. Sadly, poetry seems to be the first to be sacrificed when a society is in survival mode. But we are not in that material desperation. We are rich. We are well-fed, a bit arrogant, and definitely unconcerned. We are killing the highest art form besides opera and and painting. People of the new millennium just haven’t the patience nor have they developed the neurological pathways to enjoy sublimity unless it comes in the form of a dried-out bud.

Happily, many of us old-timers still remember. The sublime. The ephemeral. The otherness. The thrill of having reached that new level of consciousness. It was life for us, the fountain of learning. Let’s try to bring it back from it’s unnatural exile.

Take My Heart: Flash Fiction

I am panting; I’ve run a mile and I am exhausted. The road is gravel and tar. It’s almost off-road running only it was in the middle of a construction zone while the city takes its lunch break. My heartbreak is still there despite it all.

My calligrapher aunt used to tell me to run whenever I had a problem. I was young and stubborn then, but I eventually took her advice–after 25 years. She’s aged a quarter of a century. And yet she still doesn’t know how little running a mile has on problems. It only punishes the body and clears the mind–both good for the soul–but my empty gut tells me to keep running because I’ll never get there. Get where? To that part of me that contains happiness. Why not? Because it’s the lifetime of memories stored in my heart that drags me down.

I cool off by walking through English Bay. I see a dog. The dog has a red collar. The owner is holding onto it for dear life because it wants to sniff everything and everyone, and with everyone being so friendly to it, naturally, and so the black lab pup stops every two feet to greet the next bench of sun-worshipping West-Enders. What dog wouldn’t? I start to walk quickly, anxious not to get involved or pretend that I care. Most of the people here are anti-Hong Kong Chinese. A friendly lab could mean my demise into mockery. I steel myself for the passing by.

I am starting to spin. My legs turn to jelly. My left eye shuts and I cannot feel my entire left half of my body. Look! Ecce! Is that my heart melting? The black lab, probably only 6 months, is all over me, sniffing and frenetically climbing. I realize I’m on the ground now. And now, as things grow dim, I feel and smell the dog as it sniffs, whines, and licks me…and I am happy.

©️2018 Veekwriter All Rights Reserved

Love, That Fickle-Faced Creature

But it is not enough. Pursuing Beauty was meant as a stand-in for the absence of Love, that fickle-faced creature. It was because Love was not there when I was six that I wanted to be a genius, even though I knew I was not, because it had the shine of love. It was because Love was not there that the day before a new school year was to start, when I felt disheartened enough arguing with Dad, that I wanted to kill myself—for the first time, at the age of seven. It was because Love is not here that I feel nothing for other people at the age of forty-seven. It is because I am not listening to Love when it is there that I no longer care about myself or others or God. It is because Love does not exist in my heart that I don’t care about a damn thing.

I am acquainted with Bitterness though. I no longer care to kill myself. I no longer want to care to do anything but to aggrandize myself. I do this through narcissism and achievements. All I’ve ever known that mattered to me were achievements. I envy those who can circle their goals and swoop in for the kill once they’ve hunted and powered up. Well maybe not. We’re told that goals are a mountain we climb. Goals to me are not so cliché. We do all sorts of things to achieve our goals. Sometimes it takes procrastination. It takes dreaming. It then takes trudging and sometimes opening a vein. Whatever. Who cares. It’s just another dribbling writer telling you what you don’t care to know. The point is, I seek to be a great somebody because I can’t stand people. They tire of me too easily. I don’t trust people who claim to love me. I don’t trust people who are close to me. I don’t trust my extended family to have any interest in my personal benefit. I simply don’t trust.

God? I do want more than anything to go to Heaven, honestly. Only, God forbid that there should be people up there. Give me lions, tigers and bears. I don’t wish to infect others with my brand of loneliness. The bitter root spreads all too readily. I don’t know why I am heartbroken. I don’t know why I am bitter. I don’t know why I choose sadness over healing. It’s a Scorpio perversion, the darkness of its nature that makes it sting itself to death when surrounded by a ring of fire. It’s like it doesn’t seem to know that if it rushes forward over that fire, it only gets singed but slightly, that it has a tough exoskeleton to protect it. But it only sees an insurmountable threat. It sees suicidal danger. It sees no way out. And if anyone dares pluck the hypervigilant Scorpion out of the ring of fire, he himself gets stung. So, I have little use for relationships, because they won’t last past their salvation before the next threat comes.

Suddenly, I grow old. When men grow old, they date younger women to feel young again. They just catapult reality a block away and confront it again when it roadblocks them. When women grow old, they get bitter and isolate. They get cats. There is really no point in trying in anything because we all die. But if we don’t try, we don’t experience the thrill of being alive. I think the key to keeping that youthfulness is in trying. Trying new things, be they silly or mystical, are needed to survive until we die.

©️2018 Veekwriter All Rights Reserved

Taking Down The Wall Of Loneliness

I have, in my nearly half a century alive, amassed a shortlist of heroes and heroines. Obvious ones like one’s parents notwithstanding, duly acknowledged—mine consists simply of my second ex-boyfriend, my shrink (or as I joke, my PILF), my bestie in Australia, my gay social worker, and my youngest cousin. What makes them heroic? The measures they take to take care of me. They have personally touched a deep part of me that I never thought could be gotten to. It’s not the political figures or YouTube stars or random people rescuing ducks from a drain who touch me. The Internet has made all visuals fleeting and the feelings for them even more brutally so. Sometimes, there is a kind of fantasy I fall into that makes a handsome and charismatic stranger bigger than life, or bigger than my computer screen. But, the people who are in your life whom you’ve welcomed into your inner circle, and who don’t give up on you just because you process life differently—these are keepers. Hold them close. Don’t let go. That smile in your eyes that lights up at the mere thought of them speaks for itself.

There is a wall of loneliness in my life that is slowly eroding because of my hero-people. I had gone through unspeakable loneliness that only fantasies and pretentiousness substituted for real connection for most of my developmental years. I stare at the screen, my heart wrought and frozen at once, and I cannot begin, do not know where to begin. It is so utterly boring but so vital to me as a clue to why I am the way I am. No, I am not writing about it, I am sure, much to your relief.

What I want to know is what is it to this life that makes us want to get up and go in the morning? It’s different for everyone, so the cliché goes. Hedonism? God? Family? Friends? A Significant Other? I live for the glimpses of beauty I find in daily life. It could be emotional, it could be the pleasure of my first sip of tea; but, it is ultimately beauty for beauty’s sake that made me first want to learn music, finger-paint, read for hours at a time. That eternal strain of music or a shrewd turn of phrase in a piece of writing that opens a whole new world, that keeps me wanting to return to safety. I have had moments when I was so distressed that I would tie a yoga strap as a noose around my balcony railing and walking away because I didn’t have the courage to end it all. Suddenly, a strain of piano music, my first introduction to Her—She, who is called “Beauty”, plays from another apartment. And, then, I know I don’t want to die.

©️2018 Veekwriter All Rights Reserved

Child’s Play

Sometimes, there are no happy endings. Just unravelled tassels that Time simply tosses aside and forgets. It’s as if this universe was a child’s toy, and whoever is in control is making child’s play. The cosmos is his finger painting, the Child is playing, indifferent to the trillions of life forms in its grasp. He is remorseless and unfeeling, not because he is psychopathic, but because he hasn’t learned to be considerate. That is our life. Tossed about at the mercy of a Cosmic Toddler. We hurt when he pulls our leg off, and he, mystified with how in heaven’s name it goes back on, throws it into yet another bin. Bins of broken toys, toys that don’t matter. Toys that don’t feel because the Toddler isn’t aware of those feelings. Hence, in his reality, no harm has been done. The toy has been rendered into trash.

Meanwhile, on Earth, our existence is understatedly fragile. Feelings, the blessing and bane of our lives, are all some people have, whether they have all their worldly possessions in a 8,000 square foot mansion, or in a rusty shopping cart.

Along the way, we meet people who inspire us with their compassion and unaffected manners. It is not easy to hold on to them. They slip away, they grow old, they lose their minds, they die. This whole exposé of life is, “You’re born; you eat shit; you die,” and, yet…

These other people, so beautiful and alive, so transient in our lives. We want to embrace them, tell them our appreciation—strangers, two ships who pass by in the night kind of deal, make our lives hopeful, worth living, worth dreaming about. Sometimes they are viewed six million times on YouTube, to which you have contributed thirty-seven views in the first week. Sometimes, they are people who open the door for a you as you struggle with a baby tram and two toddlers, one on each side. These ordinary souls are our heroes and heroines. But they don’t stick around. They are shy, reserved, afraid. They want connection, but are only able to express it through gorgeous moments and good deeds that they soon forget as they quickly walk off in another direction, wholly unassociated and alone in their world.

What makes us this way? What makes us tick? Why do we continue punishing ourselves? If it were fathomable, even shrinks admit they’d be made redundant. The whole job of a shrink is to help you distract and entertain yourself until you die. The problems of the mind, and the knots of the heart, are, at best, creative. It seems that troubled people must go through a kind of growing through, not growing up, but through, the tunnel of ageing and the world going on, maturing, making money, having children, being bogged down by the worries of this world, while Time has broken your Watch, and you literally watch the world go by as you tinker with the hobbies you had at 18, incapacitated from being unable to let go. Sometimes, Life is haphazardly indifferent. I am grateful, though I don’t know to Whom, that we are made of better mettle.

©️2018 Veekwriter All Rights Reserved