Thursday, March 06, 2008

Breathing

Archived from the former firedocs blog. 19 April 2007



I've been doing a lot of thinking the last few days. Ever since the archetype talked to me about time, I've been thinking a lot about that. About time, about space, and the brain-crunching idea of them not being separate really at all.


Along with this, me and my best friend have been having conversations about my reality. Reminding me of all the stuff I know, that Seth would tell me, but that I've kind of moved out of thinking about for a long time. Talking about my physical reality, and what it reflects. Maybe me being uptight. Cluttered. And maybe "hanging on to things," causing a sort of "reality clogging". Maybe anal retentive can be a feng shui effect too. HA HA.


o0o Epiphanies


Today I had a sort of epiphany. Well not like a life-changing thing, but definitely a get-my-act-together kind of thing.


It all started over a chat room.


Since 1993 the TKR forum members have asked for a chat. For a long time I was adamant I wouldn't have one. I didn't have time to have it moderated, I would not allow the head-trip mind-F*** BS that a stupid number of people in the field online lived for in chat rooms, I wouldn't put up with the 'trolls' which were actually viewers from all kinds of sources that resented Any God But Their Own, etc. I was cranky and snappy about it and that was that.


But eventually, some of the TKR Admins themselves were asking. I have a soft spot for all of them. Without them I'd have to be spending all my time reading boards and carrying on monologues. They make that project possible and in doing so, free up a whole lot of my time. (Which is ridiculously limited even with their help.) I want to do anything I can to help them or make them happy.


So, at the time, this was maybe 2-3 years ago, I went out and looked for chat options. I refused the easier stuff, like IRC, because I wanted something that we could control. I once vowed -- and I still maintain -- that I will never again run a project that is fully unmoderated, that allows evil abusers to deliberately stalk and destroy the entire project for everybody. I feel I owe it to anybody who spends their time in anything I run, to at least make sure I can somewhat protect them and their contributions from destruction, by being able to bounce/ban "trolls." That the worst trolls are usually allegedly viewers themselves is one of the great ironies of this field, but never mind.


The affordable options for software that allowed privacy, could be run from my own site (though tying into their server), could have rooms made/dropped on command, could do moderated "guest interview" chats, etc. were few. In the end I settled on a java-based chat hosted in the UK for around 30 bucks a month plus a hefty set up fee. We had the chat room up for awhile. I don't know how long, maybe a year, 18 months? (My time sense is completely distorted. Never believe me when I estimate anything related to time.) We had a few guest chats. I was busy and didn't get off my butt to make more of them happen, but they were fun and interesting.


We usually had a few people show up on Monday nights after the Missions at TKR got feedback. It didn't get much use otherwise though. I made an option in the dojo software, for users to schedule a chat, or to say when someone would be around, but there wasn't much interest it appeared. This could be partly because the people expressing interest were mostly on the forum, while the chat you actually had to get to through the dojo.


After what seemed like eons, I realized how much money I had dished out for something seldom used -- and the software itself kind of drove me nuts anyway -- and so I just canceled the chatserver and figured "eventually, I'll do something else."


In keeping with the laws of Murphy, the minute I canceled it, all kinds of people seemed to want it. It's like something in the universe senses the void. It's like swearing celibacy and then watching people just pour out of the woodwork who are hot to have you. The irony is downright funny. Sort of.


o0o Time marches on.


So it's been a long time and we haven't had a chat room. I decided on what I wanted to get back in October of last year, and made plans. But it cost a bit. About $500-600, plus another $100 for the first year of the chatserver hosting. If I couldn't swing at least half the total amount up front there was no point to doing it, so I kept putting it off, not having that much at one time.


Time marches on. "Real Soon Now" in my world has the subjectivity of my time attached to it. This could mean in 5 minutes or maybe in 5 years. A friend once told me it was one of the most annoying things about me, but I feel sure he left out several far more interesting options.


Meanwhile, another sort of parallel issue that ties into this epiphany has been going on. Since way-back-when -- we are talking end of 1995 now -- I've been regularly faced with the opportunity to make some money from something related to RV, and refused.


o0o MoneyMoneyMoneyMoney


For just over a couple of years, it was because of what I considered the 'honor of the sensei' -- which is to say, people would offer to come give me cash if I'd just spend a full day letting them pick my brain, and I had an infant and no real job and a husband that didn't work and I desperately needed it, but I felt that anybody worth teaching "should have a real teacher" -- that being one of the 'formal' instructors I knew and had studied with -- and I felt that it would also be unfair to the teachers to take money they should get.


This was a real drama queen martyr thing in retrospect, because the degree of my need, the casual one-off nature of the options, and the obscene amount of money that RV teachers were making off the public anyway, should have made all that angst a moot point. But no, get me on any kind of kick where I think any decision is about the 'honor' of something and you might as well give up, I'm ten times as stubborn. Sigh. Sometimes I think my character was written by John Irving -- it's like the kind of thing you've got to have a sense of humor and a penchant for sociology to appreciate.


TKR and the dojo's software developed, and the time demands put into it kept up. It's been reprogrammed and redesigned several times, and expanded continually. I've tried to keep a constant hand in TKR's communications, as much for the insanity it keeps out as a side effect, as for anything I might contribute. The amount of hours eventually 'averaged' to like 40 a week at least every other week -- evenings and into the night and all weekend generally, for eons. The amount of money I was spending just on that project alone, for server rentals, programming help at times, applets or software plugins on occasion, domain names, etc. -- not counting other things like Firedocs or many other RV domains that I maintain -- reached into the thousands of dollars.


My friends started really leaning on me about it. They thought it was insane and ridiculous that anybody would seem to basically dedicate their entire life outside work and kid to something and get no compensation for it -- their theory was that at the least, I should charge enough so I didn't have to do all that work for free AND pay for it. But making stuff available was the whole point of TKR, so I didn't care much. I made a decent income at my job, not great but enough that I could afford to fund it all with being dependent on anybody else. The politics and marketing media and business competition in the RV field, not counting disinformation, misinformation, mis-education (enough of that to span the globe several times), cult indoctrination and more made an island of sanity for RV -- a FREE one -- critical in my opinion. I wanted it open and out there.


o0o Donations and Drama


So then in the early days of TKR, the idea of a "donation" button was brought up. At first, I think I just refused, because I didn't want to feel beholden to others. I didn't want anybody to ever be able to say, "Hey, I donated money to you, how dare you let my name or opinion get dissed in your project?" I already had a rather surreal problem with one trainer thinking it was my moral duty to defend his reputation from the people he'd worked so hard to ruin it with, and the thought of that expanding to cover anybody who wanted to donate 20 bucks nearly gave me hives just thinking about it.


Eventually, when the topic came up again, and more people had commented to me about such things privately, I decided to consider it. But then I realized that this might not work. Due to marrying a foreigner who never got legal here and some related issues bigger than anything you want to hear about (trust me), I owe the IRS money. This means that if I had actual INCOME -- like, dependable income from a job or client -- they could (they do) levy it. I had this idea that they would hunt down every person who sent me five dollars and send them all my personal info and a 1/4" stack of paper with threats about what'd happen if they didn't fill it out. Which I might add they did to several of my clients long ago, which contributed to them not being clients and greatly complicated my paying the debt. (Brilliant, they are not.) So at that point I refused because I didn't know enough about it (now I know more) and I worried that debt might cause some problems if I took donations.


More time passed. More money... more working through the night... and the subject would come up now and again, usually in private correspondence. I would shrug it off. It's ok, I can handle it.


o0o


Recently, I dished out a few hundred for the first almost-half of the chatroom stuff. I was going to open it even with the limitations it had, stuff I hadn't bought yet for customizing, but it turns out these "emoticons" and "preset comments" and "avatars" in it are so incredibly stupid, it is just downright humiliating to even be associated with.


So with a sigh I realized it could be a few months before I had the money for the rest of it (so I could change them), given the way things are going in my life lately, and everyone would just have to wait. Yes, that meant I'd be paying monthly on a chatserver nobody used, but we're talking about my reputation being proxy to totally moronic media. That seemed more important. Apparently if I can't be cool I will take my ball and ... not chat.


So to my surprise, on the TKR board, the very next day (he must be psychic!) Daz asks for a chat room. I say sure, and explain it's sort of coming but has to wait on a bit more funds. And he suggests -- as has happened so many times before -- that I put up a donation button and let people donate to the project for it.


I wrote a message that I didn't post, that said, "No, it's ok. It'll be here eventually."


And then just before I clicked on the send button, it all hit me.


This is my conversation with myself, in personal vs. Devil's Advocate (DA) form.


o0o Inner Guide (DA) Gets Cheeky

DA: They can't donate why?

PJ: I don't need it.

DA: If you can't do what they want because you don't have the money, you need it.

PJ: I don't need to ask others for help.

DA: Woo woo. So this is about your ego? I thought it was about a chat room.

PJ: Well I can take care of it, it'll just take awhile.

DA: It's already been awhile. A LONG while. So what you're really saying is, "Only I, The Official Martyr(tm), can contribute to this project." Aren't you the one always talking about how it's the members that make the project what it is? And now you're saying you won't let the members help make it what they want it to be.... because why, again?

PJ: I don't want to make money off online RV. I've seen it corrupt every person it touches.

DA: Who said you're making money off it? At this point all the donations you'll ever get times 1,000 couldn't cover the amount of money and time you've been putting into RV stuff online since late 1995. You'll be lucky if once a year you get enough donations to cover a month of your overall RV online expenses. The expenses you pay aren't business expenses, they are personal. If someone pays part of that, it's a gift. It's a tiny drop in the bucket that might help. More importantly, it might help the members actually contribute to the things important to them. Something you say you want, in general.

PJ: Yeah but then some bonehead will be saying that I'm doing it for money.

DA: First, that's just too stupid to qualify, given everything you've put in the last dozen years. It would make them look bad more than you if they did. Second, this means that rather than basing your decisions on the many people in projects you're part of, or the people who most like you and want to help you or help the project, you're basing your decisions on some invisible, assumed person who doesn't like you and might say bad things about you. What kind of sense does that make? If anybody influences your decisions it should be your friends, not your enemies. Besides, your enemies already diss you, who cares if they add something else to their rants? Why should you care anyway? They're off your radar. Live your life.

PJ: I guess I just want to feel like I am not indebted and beholden to people.

DA: Then maybe you should build your next social club in a cave. Listen, you're the one always going on about how you only build the shell and the people are the heart and soul of it and it's their interests and input that drive it. It isn't about you being beholden. The point is, it isn't about YOU. Get over yourself already! Nobody is doing you a favor. Maybe a little, maybe IF they like you, but maybe it's a whole lot more about just wanting to feel like they're contributing to something they appreciate online. Maybe they only visit because of someone or something else and they can't stand you. That doesn't mean they don't appreciate the project. You're filtering everything as if it has to come through the doorway of your ego. Miss "I must be independent, and honorable!" That just doesn't really apply to donations. It might apply to you selling 1-900 RV services, or ranting about aliens and doom on late night radio, but a "donation to an RV project" is NOT a statement on your ego, morality, competence, independence, or anything else. Because it's not a statement about YOU, ok?


... I thought about this for awhile. The part that really bugs me about my inner voice (and I have pleaded, lately, for my Inner Guide to be more present in my conscious life, and I suspect this is his doing, as he is often making me see things about myself I don't want to see), is that it makes me realize what a totally conceited autocrat I can be sometimes.


So I didn't post the message and instead went back to work for a bit while I mulled it over. I started thinking about the talks my buddy and I have been having about the clutter in my house and what the archetype said about time, space, clutter and feng shui, and I suddenly realized:


o0o It's all connected.


All the crap I hang on to that I don't really "need" terribly, that causes clutter in my house; all the issues I won't let go of that cause me such resistance to ever "being vulnerable" or "letting someone help me" (because it would make me vulnerable -- the Narrator talked to me about that years ago) -- it's connected.


And I realized that what it amounts to, I am not "letting anything in" -- not just 'donations' but really, the whole larger picture of being "acceptive" of how reality interacts with me -- and I am also not "letting anything out" -- like the house which, despite being 1.7 billion times better now that my ex is gone, is still way too cluttered for my taste.


And then, in one of those perspective-switches that are so right they irk me, I remembered what my friend was saying about the clutter: that it's a poverty mentality, of course.


If you really trust you'll have what you need in life, you let things go, you let them find use with others, you don't hoard and store things that you never use or for really long periods of time. Everything around you, he reminded me, is literally a reminder ("an idea incarnate", I thought) of what you think you lack, of what you think you won't be able to get again when you need it.


Instead of being surrounded by plenty, what I am really surrounded by is monuments to lack.


DA: There's no FLOW. It's a fear-based response. It's a curled-up-in-shell-of-safety response. If you had faith in yourself, in your reality, if you could "ALLOW" -- the big issue for you -- you would let things flow from you, and flow to you as well, and it wouldn't be any big issue at all.


I wondered if that might relate to the extra body weight that is such a bother to get off me. Not allowing, not releasing, storing and hoarding. Kinda sounds like it huh.


I'm really sort of astounded by the insight. Not that being a bonehead is new to me, I realize this about myself regularly, but I found today particularly insightful, albeit in a bit of a bruising yet freeing way.


o0o Breaking The Habit


I've decided that I'm going to change that. I'm going to improve myself. I'm going to be more of the kind of person I want to be, and I'm going to reshape my life to make it happen.


So I came to two conclusions.


First. I am going through my house bit by bit and I am getting rid of everything that I do not use regularly and/or that is not so hard to acquire (or needed in emergency) that I can bear it.


My bathroom has like 15 towels. There are two of us. There's so many they end up all over the counter and floor, the stack toppling off the shelf. They are out of here shortly. I'll save the 4-5 that are big thick beach towels is all. I have a big wall cupboard and an oversized sink cabinet that are stuffed with stupid things I never use and probably 30 bottles of stuff. It's out of here. My chronically crowded, cluttered bathroom has enough storage space, given there's two of us, that it ought to be nearly zen minimalist. Really, this should be applied to my whole house.


Make it so! I will LET THINGS GO.


Second. I am going to make a page for donations on the dojo site, and put buttons on my various websites, and anybody who wants to donate can.


I'll let people spec out what project/thing it's for if they want, and I'll keep a public tally of everything in/out so folks know what it's really for. There is no excuse for acting like a martyr and there is no excuse for keeping viewers anywhere, let alone members of a member-driven project, from actually helping shape their project or viewing stuff online if they so choose. It shouldn't even be a big deal and it might be helpful to me AND to the projects.


Make it happen! I will LET THINGS IN.


And maybe, with a little more "energy flow" of incoming and outgoing and "allowing", I can better deal with the stored clutter in my house -- and on my body -- and maybe, just maybe, it might even have some feng shui reality side-effect on my available time. Which is as limited as -- surprise -- my available money at the moment.


It is actually hard. I feel all this inner resistance to both things. But I think this is what personal growth is all about, is about recognizing your limitations and proactively doing something to cure them and bring balance to yourself.


I'll put the donation page up tomorrow. For now, off to clean the house!

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