Mark White

Consciousness pondering rumination thinking about consciousness pondering rumination.

Saying sorry doesn't mean the same thing to me that it does to many, I think. I don't wait for someone to apologize for something they did. I don't instantly forgive them as soon as they say “I'm sorry.”

To me, an apology isn't much more than a show of humility. It simply says, I fucked up, and I'm self-aware enough to realize it wasn't a good thing. It's the verbal bowing of the head, making yourself small, backing off of your aggression.

Otherwise when people insult me or do something to me I don't like, I don't view it as some wrong that needs to be “righted” with an act of contrition. I see it simply as a plain, rare moment of raw truth. As social creatures we mostly try not to hurt others around us, so when I or someone does hurt others, it says something very important about who they are as a person — something unobscured by the faces we put on to get along with others; something very blunt and honest.

It's my view that you can't stop people from doing these things (only they can stop them before they happen), and frankly there's nothing to “right” once they've done something I don't like. They're just being honest.

What it comes down to as the receiver of such a slight, is what you're willing to accept. Apology or not, damage is still done (even the apologizer knows this; all they can do is shrink). The real important question that you can ask yourself at any point after the damage has been done is: are you okay with that person being around you, now that they've bluntly shown you who they are? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives of someone like that? If you didn't delude yourself into thinking you could change them, and had to accept them just like this, are you okay with that?

Sitting here working on that novel I've been wanting to write for years now, listening to old Nine Inch Nails that reminds me of no worry, no weight of the world bearing down on me. This realization, in contrast to when I break my concentration, when I mentally look at the normal concerns of my mind, makes me wonder: why do I need to worry about all these things? Will my world collapse if I stopped mentally juggling these anxieties?

I suspect the answer is no. And for now I'll stop juggling.

Until I remove my headphones, walk outside, and the pins and unicycle call for me again.

As you get older and the world grows more complex and nuanced, you face a choice: fight to maintain control over your reality, or lose confidence in your ability to influence the world.

It occurs to me while looking at my past behavior—that of “managing” people, lying to get my way and control a situation—and in that of my mother and father: a strong desire for control over the world around us.

Yet my mother and I share the same quiet behavior: drinking to excess. My theory on this Sunday afternoon is that being drunk gives us sweet contentment: an unspoken awareness that we don't control the world around us, and the plain outward acceptance of that. We strike up conversations we never would've otherwise had, smoke cigarettes we “quit” years ago, and carry on with strangers that we don't see a future with.

Our fight for control is an unconscious one that manifests in very conspicuous behaviors and routines. Perhaps the only way out is realizing what I'm really doing when I go for a drink. Around friends or not, I'm looking to give up my tight illusory grasp on my environment; to forget, for a night, my fantasy of control.

And why can't I just do that sober?

Profound solitude.

Something missing in my life.

Sometimes my tolerance for the chaos of people runs out.

Sometimes I just need peace, stability around me a world reflecting my mind.

The word for my mental state perhaps popped into my head last night: neurotic. Anxious about all the things I realistically can't control; a constant babysitter; gently, incessantly concerned for things.

A little Google search provided an answer: think about death.

Hey, not a bad idea.

It sounds funny, but I've been here before. The times I was only concerned with my own world, when I constantly invented, I had death on my mind. It was strangely, immediately present; right in my face. I had to get the most out of my day because I was going to not have a day at some point. I felt this coursing through my body with every beat of my heart.

Every minute was important because it was that minute. The simple fact it existed was enough to make it significant.

I've lost that feeling with the infinite distractions I've decided to entangle myself with. So I'm back to thinking about death. Whereas it came naturally then as a means, here I have the end in mind — and I must consciously follow this path there.

I'm going to die some day. Feel my heartbeat; breathe deeply.

I don't want to be tied to my times constantly worried about the day's worries. An entire life can be spent going nowhere when you move at the pace of others.

I want to roam all of time in my time to know life before and after the here and now; freedom from the minds caught in revolving doors yelling the whole time, telling me how things really are.

I get a little tipsy, and at some point I decide, this is so good, you can't stop me now. There's no need to stop. Because this is so good. Ride this feeling for as long as you can be conscious or whatever — it doesn't matter, I don't think that far ahead — but right now I'm feeling so good. Surely only good things will follow from here.

Maybe in my world-loving state I'll encounter something incredible.

They say some among us have seen many lives — the “old souls.” These have lived so many times before that wisdom comes to them effortlessly. Empathy is an instinct living in their very bones, after having lived with so many people of so many ages in the course of dying and being reborn again. Others say that if some soul has an easy life, it's because they've seen such hardships in past lives that they were destined to get a cosmic break at some point.


It's Wednesday, 10:40 AM. Life is not short if you know how to use it and I never learned. The world certainly won't teach me — it only instructs me to do what I do already: make some money!

Money. 10:44 AM. Is that what I'm “making”? Is that all I'm doing? And what have I really “made” once I've made money? Is my belly more full or my life complete (I can die happy)? Certainly money can buy things that fill my belly or life — but my belly isn't made full by its mere existence. My life isn't instantly fulfilled the second I receive my paycheck. All these intermediary objects and experiences separate what I spend my life doing from living actual life; experiencing life, time, my own senses and mortality.

That is what Seneca meant. Working all day just for a paycheck isn't using life well. Your body and creative mind atrophy as you do what you're told, try to do more, get shut down, do only what you're told, and on and on. Every day is a waste when it isn't in line with your self.

Do not despair that the world is warming. Do not pine for the coral or the cold parts of the planet you'll never get to see before they die; as they were before the 20th century. Do not fear a world changing — life is only change. You can affect it, yes but only so much. Do what you can but do not despair.