It’s kind of a retcon

Last week I tweeted out something that may have been a little more cryptic than intended:

Coming from the person who announced his engagement on Facebook by saying “In the parlance of our times, I liked it, so I put a ring on it,” this tweet was definitely #onbrand, but maybe not on point.

Since my blog is a better place to unpack things than Twitter, here goes.

Yes, I’m bi. No, this isn’t news to me. I’ve had some pretty clear ideas about it since high school.

But I grew up in a community where most of the people around me at that time didn’t see bisexual as a valid identity. It was a transition, like poking one foot out of the closet.

The one person I opened up to about this at that time reacted with a fairly forceful argument that amounted to, “Chris, you’re not gay.”

That wasn’t what I was saying, but that’s what they heard.

That fundamental misunderstanding lived rent free in my brain. I let it silence a lot of questions for a while. Even when I consciously knew better, or had a stronger grasp of who I am, it was hard to walk away from those doubts that had taken root long ago.

So why say anything now?

Because I couldn’t not say it any longer.

As somebody who survives with depression, and has a pretty regular fight with imposter syndrome, honesty and objectivity are essential tools for me.

I need to be honest, because being able to have that baseline is helpful in keeping me going. And being able to be open with other people helps me feel connected to others. When depression is at its worst, I often try to isolate myself.

When I was teaching Intro to Media Writing, I used a quote from Socrates when talking about understanding how to write fictional characters:

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.

It was always about helping students think through this notion that people are more complicated than they seem, and that for someone to be a character worth admiring or emulating, they should have some consistency between what they show and what they believe.

If I continued to pass as heterosexual, I wouldn’t be living honorably.

I’d prefer to live honorably.

For my kids, who are going to have their own feelings to work through as they get older. For my spouse, who deserves my honesty and to know that I feel secure enough with her to be vulnerable.

And for the people who were like me and had more questions than answers, who might need to see somebody claim an identity in a way that makes them feel they can lay claim to it, too.

Button’s hit an entertaining part of acquiring language: possessives and connections.

It started when he was at his sister’s soccer game and showed he didn’t want his hat, but his grandfather’s:

“No! Jim hat.”

Yes, he’s on a first-name basis with Grandpa.

From there he’s started to get a giddy joy out of pointing out when he knows that certain things relate to other people or belong to them. Identifying which cup at the table belongs to which person. Pointing to one of his plaid shirts and saying “Papa!” because it looks like the kind of shirts he sees his Papa wearing.

Today I needed to run an errand and he heard me say I was heading to the car. He picked up a windbreaker and followed me. “Dada vroom!” I started to leave without him and he got cranky, until I asked him “Do you want to go with Dad in the car?” He nodded. Dada vroom.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the way to write or say things. Looking for the best ways to put words together to communicate something unambiguously. And here’s Button doing the same thing, but with a smaller palette.

He can’t rely on his words or syntax being persuasive, so he needs to rely on our desire to interpret him.We know that some of it may sound like noise, but that there’s signal trying to break through. He doesn’t need vocabulary or craft to persuade us to listen.

Recent daily affirmations

Something I picked up to add to my daily journaling from the Tim Ferriss book Tools of the Titans: Starting off with some daily questions and affirmations. Asking myself to write down things I’m grateful for, ways to make today a good day, and then answering the prompt “I am ______.”

Today’s response felt like one worth sharing:

Excuse my handwriting. I’ve given up working on it.

It ties in a little to a recent thought I shared on Twitter:

I feel like if you only work to be great, you’ll miss opportunities or miss the mark. If you try to always be good, occasionally you’ll stumble on to something greater.

Kind of like not getting so caught up thinking about the grade that you miss the lesson of the assignment.

Delete App/Remove from Home Screen/Cancel

In ridding ourselves of the courthouse and marketplace we do not rid ourselves of the principal worries of our life. Ambition, covetousness, indecisiveness, fear, and desires hardly abandon us just because we change address. They pursue us into the monasteries and schools of philosophy themselves. Neither deserts nor caves nor hair shirts nor penance can extricate us from them. That is why it is not enough to remove oneself from people, not enough to go somewhere else. We have to remove ourselves from the habits of the populace that are within us. We have to isolate our own self and return it to our possession. We carry our chains within us. We are not entirely free. We keep returning our gaze to the things we left behind.

Stephen Batchelor reading Michel de Montaigne for the Tricycle podcast

Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be transferred or transformed from one form to another.

The first law of thermodynamics

Sometimes I’ll delete Instagram from my phone for a while. Or set up blockers to keep me from looking at the web version of Twitter (since Tweetbot does a pretty good job of keeping me from falling down rabbit holes).

The other day I put Instagram back on my phone for a moment to check a message someone had sent me there, and within a few taps I inadvertently opened a video with spoilers for the new season of The Owl House.

At which point my brain kicked over to “In for a penny, in for a pound” and I fell down a rabbit hole with the app for several minutes.

The little lifehacks and quick fixes don’t work for me. There are plenty of others who feel the same:

Because bad habits provide some type of benefit in your life, it’s very difficult to simply eliminate them. (This is why simplistic advice like “just stop doing it” rarely works.)

Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a similar benefit.

James Clear

I haven’t found the right replacement for some of the habits that don’t actually bring me any real joy (even if they bring me dopamine). Maybe that’s because I haven’t adequately figured out what need they’re trying to fulfill.

An app or a social network isn’t designed for an individual, but for a broad sense of what humans need and desire. When I let idle moments default to distraction, I lose definition.

I’m no longer here, in this space, doing and thinking and being. Instead I’m riding a current of other people’s decisions and thoughts. Surrendering to it.

And it’s not enough to try to run and hide from it.