Hi everyone. You don’t need me to tell you it’s been a long time since my last post. As a matter of fact, I left half-way through a series of writings on the Enneagram, just flat out abandoning those poor little articles without their siblings.
I suppose I should start with an explanation of my sudden disappearance from the internet. It went like this: First, one of my articles was on the receiving end of some powerful criticism. Now, let me say this: Criticism I can take, but this particular criticism had a lot of truth to it, and that’s something different. I was stuck, and I remember at the same time thinking that if I continued with the rest of the series, that same criticism would just apply to all the other articles too, and I would have that glaring criticism just staring me in the face while I just blatantly ignored it and failed to address it and before you know it the whole project along with my reputation as a “honest” writer tanks. After all, if someone criticizes you, and you think they’re right, and you go on writing the articles just to finish the series, well what level of OCD is that?
At the same time that I was pondering what to do with this…view that had been handed to me, I began the sudden and unexpected process of moving my family out of my sister-in-law’s house. Also, I got a new job, took up an interest in voice acting for a while, my wife began homeschooling my son, and every other day was insane with busyness. Since then, I took up a different job, moved into my mother-in-law’s house (poverty, yeah!) and have been busy raising two kids who pretty much keep me preoccupied 24/7. In case you’re wondering, I’m not writing this because I want to make excuses for not writing anything before now.
It is time to wake up again
My point is, I fell asleep. I began drifting. I let society hypnotize me and more time has sifted through my fingers.
Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t all been a blur. I won second place in a pizza-eating contest and gave the absurdly large local pizza-eating trophy to my older son. I’ve trained my one year old to make an explosion sound when I say “Ziggy boogy doog,” and if you get that reference I applaud you.
I think another reason I drifted is that I’ve always felt counterfeit in the spiritual community. Here you have people who take up the lives of monks, or who travel around like Jordan has, and are thus able to transcend their roots and grow in many ways by experiencing countless different cultures around them. I know people on Skype who claim to be able to speak with spirits, or work tarot, or astral project…and me?
Well…not so much. I drink caffeine, work a 9-5 (actually 11-8 currently), never remember my dreams, and basically, if you saw me face-to-face, you wouldn’t pick me out as the “spiritual” type at all. Sometimes I get lucky though. To quote the Grateful Dead, “Sometimes the light’s all shining on me. Other times I can barely see.” Lately for me, I’ve been pretty blind. You see, for me, spirituality, and writing about spirituality comes at a cost. Specifically, it comes at the cost of me spending less time with my family, especially since I work.
Why am I saying all this? It’s not to garnish sympathy, or to explain why I never update. It’s to say to the people who are in the same boat as me, that I get it. Sometimes it feels like there’s drugs in the air vents. Sometimes it feels like you’re going through life asleep. Sometimes it all feels like a blur, or a bitter struggle to keep any money you can so you don’t live the rest of your life in debt. I get it. But here’s the thing: All the stuff you’re worried about is the future. It’s not the present.
The other day, I was freaked out about money, because that same old fear of mine creeped up its head: “I had better save every penny I can, or else my family will starve on the streets.” It’s hard for me, because I feel like a miser sometimes, but I feel like I have to be. But I was thinking about this, and I realized that my fear and worry for the future were choking away what I had in the now. I was so worried about the future of my family, that I wasn’t spending as much time enjoying their company, playing with them, and being with them now.
I’ve come to realize that one of the things that causes fear is a lack of acceptance. If you know something will happen, then why fear? My kids are going to get hurt sometimes. There will come a time when I will pass away and my family will be on their own. And you know what? When that time comes, they are going to be alright. They’ll live on. And there will even come a time when my kids pass on. So when you know all this is going to happen sooner or later, you’re really left with two choices:
1) Spend the rest of your life in dread of the inevitable.
2) Enjoy what you have to the full extent while it lasts.
If you’re like me, wandering like a half-zombie through most of the morning, kids banging on the door when you try to use the restroom, working a ton. Just remember that not all the moments are painful ones. To take a big, relaxing breath, and just enjoy it all. For me, my family has done just fine so far, and they’ll continue to be okay long after I’m gone.
Until next time, keep it real.
Welcome back, loyal fans, (You’ll see why that’s a pun in a minute), to part Six of my nine part series where I interview different Enneagram personalities! Click on these links for the first five interviews:
Today I am interviewing the Six, also known as the Loyalist/Skeptic. (See the pun? Do ya? Do ya?) Welcome Six.
Thank you. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a question before we get into the interview. What are you getting out of this?
Um, what do you mean?
Why are you interviewing me in the first place? How are you going to use the information that I give you? Are you going to make me look bad?
Well…no. What incentive do I have to make you look bad?
Just because you haven’t stated one or I don’t know it yet doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I read your article with Three. I saw what he said about me. For all I know, you two are best buddies.
Everything I write is word-for-word from the interview. I don’t change or edit anything.
Fair enough. But what about ulterior motives? You really expect me to believe you’re doing these out of the goodness of your heart? Or are you doing this to get more readers and more power? Are you getting paid to write these? Are these interviews really about us, or are they about Livewithwonder? Well? I’m waiting…
Well, I don’t get paid to write these. I’m writing these because I feel like they help and inspire people, and I like how I feel when I help and inspire others. I do want to increase my readership, but the reason for that is that I want to inspire more people. Yes, I would eventually like to make a living doing this, so that I can focus all of my energy and attention on inspiring, and not have to divide myself between writing and jobs which I’m not fully behind anyway. Does that make sense?
Well…yeah. Okay, I’ll put you in my “probationary circle.”
What does that mean?
It means I don’t fully trust you yet, but I’m going to go out on a limb and let you interview me.
Um, thanks…I guess?
Trust me. Most people don’t make it this far.
Okay, so what do you believe?
Well, see…that’s a tough question for me. There’s a few ideas and people I really strongly support, but that’s because they’ve proven themselves, much in the same way that you passed the first test. The way I see it, if you pardon my language, there are many BS people and ideas in the world, people who are fake, that crumble apart when things get difficult and leave you hanging when you need them the most. The same goes for ideals. Why follow an ideal if it’s a bunch of bull? So you test the people. You test the ideas, again and again and again, and if everything checks out? Congratulations, you’ve found something incredibly rare in life, something or someone to believe in.
Could you give me an example of this in practice?
Sure. Let’s say you’re dating someone, and that person tells you they love you. Well, people say that all the time. How can you be sure they aren’t full of it? You test them. You look for potential problems and ulterior motives. You bait traps, and if they fail, you know it wasn’t sincere. For example, if you think she’s merely after your money, you would provide a chance for them to get a sizable chunk of your money if they break up with you. You test to find out what is true.
Doesn’t this distrust hurt people’s feelings?
Sometimes, if they pass the test and I hurt their feelings I feel really bad about it, but most of the time, they don’t pass the test., so in that case I don’t really care if their feelings are hurt or not. They don’t really care, so why should I be loyal to them?
It’s funny that you’re called the “Loyalist” and yet you are so quick to turn away from others? Do you believe in second chances?
Hey, if they pass the test, you’ll never meet anyone more loyal. I tend to only take second chances on rare occasions. If someone fails a test, it’s for a reason.
Are there any personalities that you don’t get along with?
People always think I’m crazy when I say this, but Nine really bothers me.
Nine is always trying to play peacemaker, even when it isn’t necessary. Like, say I’m having a debate with somebody, Nine will say things like “Hey, its okay. It doesn’t really matter,” or “His points are valid too,” and it drives me nuts because it does matter and his points aren’t valid. It takes a long, long time and a lot of research for me to form an opinion on something, and I guarantee the other guy hasn’t done his research, so when she tries to tell me that his point is valid when it isn’t, well its infuriating. In fact, I get much more annoyed at her meddling than I do with the person I’m arguing with.
A day hanging out with Nine is a day staring at clouds with nothing happening. What does she even do, anyway? I just don’t see how someone could spend so much time doing nothing.
What do you think of your friends, Five and Seven?
Five is a really cool character. He’s played peacemaker with me a few times too, but the difference is that he doesn’t really care if I’m peaceful or not. He just offers some useful information and he’s on his way, and yeah that usually does calm me down.
We’re both anxious in our own way, I guess. I know in your interview with Five that some of his comments about me seemed kind of harsh or negative, but that’s actually what I like about Five. He’s honest. He doesn’t lie to me to be sensitive to my feelings. He acts almost computer like.
Does Five have any flaws?
Oh yeah. Of course. For one thing, he gets all caught up in the world of his head sometimes. He once locked himself in his room for three days straight. When he finally came out, his eyes were bloodshot. I’m pretty sure he didn’t sleep most of that time. I still have no idea what he did all that time. For all I know he was playing video games.
What about Seven?
Seven is a great guy who loves to have fun. He’s great because he knows how to pull me out of his shell, at least somewhat. Say we’re heading out to a party or something and I’m freaking out about how formal it is and wondering what the appropriate attire is. Seven will pop in with an obnoxious shirt and totally put me at ease. He’s a very fun person who helps me get rid of my anxiety for a while.
Of course, he’s got his flaws too. He does tend to ditch me if there’s a crowd. He doesn’t mean to, and it’s not like I couldn’t go over and join him. I’m just not a crowd person. Seven, on the other hand, he practically needs to be around people. He’s always telling me that I need to relax, but you should see him at a party that’s ending. You’ll never see a more anxious face.
Would you care to add anything before we wrap this up?
Test everything to find what is good, and when you find it, hold on for dear life.
Thank you for your time, Six.
Thanks. You earned it.
Today, I am interviewing Five, also known as the Thinker/Observer. Welcome Five!
Hello, er hi. Yeah, hi.
You seem a little nervous.
Who um me? Well I guess I’m so used to doing my own thing that I’m awkward around people sometimes.
What is your own thing?
Well…it’s kind of hard to explain.
It’s okay, explain away!
Well it’s like…for most people, they don’t really enjoy being left alone. They get lonely. For me, it’s like I don’t ever get enough alone time. There’s so much to study and learn, and it just seems like people are always interrupting. No offense to them, but I wish I had more time to explore the things that interest me.
What interests you?
Well that changes from time to time. I’ll get really into something, practically obsess over it, and then I’ll hit a point where I move on. Right now I’ve been watching videos of all the TED talk videos and I’m categorizing which are my least and most favorite, in order.
Wait, you’ve seen all the TED talks?
Most of them. I still have a few to watch, but I’ll probably go do that when I’m done here.
If you don’t like interruptions, why did you agree to this interview?
Well, I made an exception in this case because I like to share my findings and things I learn with people. I find it’s easier to get along with people if they share the same interests as me.
What if they don’t?
Well…then things get a bit rough…
I see. So what is it you believe?
I don’t know. Am I supposed to believe something? I guess for me, believing something is just jumping to conclusions. What you believe is based on what you know, and there’s always more data to gather, and many times that data contradicts. The world is a very uncertain place.
How do you actually live like that? Don’t you value anything?
Well, I guess you could say I value knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the safer you are, so I hoard it. Knowledge protects you, empowers you, and liberates you.
Would you say that knowledge has its own problems?
It can. It certainly makes life more complicated, but I like to think of certain life problems as puzzles to be solved. Knowledge can also make you more miserable sometimes because you become aware of awful things in the world that you otherwise wouldn’t. The thing is, if you don’t know what the problem is, you cannot fix it, and people go on living in painful ignorance.
How exactly does knowledge protect you?
That question can be answered many ways. Without knowledge, you cannot specialize in anything , and if you cannot do that, you’re useless as far as society is concerned. You might as well be flipping burgers. I’m not taking that path. I want to have something to offer the world.
From a survival perspective, you can run away from a snake, but if you know that a particular snake isn’t poisonous, then you have nothing to worry about. You are not in danger of an illusion.
From a legalistic perspective, the people who are ignorant of the law get taken advantage of. Did you know the police can legally lie to you as a means to coax the confession of a crime? You may have known that, but my point is that if you didn’t know, you’d get taken advantage of.
Have you ever been arrested?
No, but its always nice to be prepared. You never know.
Honestly, though, you seem like a nice guy. What are the chances you’d be arrested?
Innocent people are arrested all the time. Its good to be prepared, just in case.
Aren’t there better uses of your time than learning something like that?
Well I suppose so, but when something catches my interest, I throw myself into it. It’s just what I do.
I was thinking of something more like a social life?
Like I said before, no offense, but other people waste my time. When I’m to myself, I have time to research and unravel the world’s mysteries.
But can’t others help you reach your goals?
Sometimes you have no other choice but to take donations from others but I try hard not to. Most people don’t understand what it is I’m trying to do with my research and discoveries. They usually just want to piggyback on my hard work for their own personal gain.
It’s always the same garbage. I’ll tell a well thought-out, researched, original joke and Three will spread it to everyone and take credit, or I’ll stumble upon a new fascinating discovery and Eight will find a way to turn it into a weapon. Most people don’t want to understand. They just want the results, the power that comes from knowledge.
Eight, for example, doesn’t care how a shrink ray works. He just wants me to build him one to crush his enemies. He doesn’t see the deeper potential. All he sees is s device that will add to his power. But a shrink ray could be so much more than that! You could, for example, drive to work, shrink your car, and put it in your pocket! Imagine, massive, ugly parking lots a thing of the past! But Eight…he just wants a toy.
I’m sensing a little animosity between you two.
Ha! I wonder why? If I’m going to be honest, I’d have to say I’m jealous of him. Like…deeply jealous, like you have no idea how jealous.
Why is that?
You know how I study to protect myself? To solve problems? With him, he just jumps into life and survives and even thrives just fine. It’s maddening! It’s like the gods themselves have spoiled him and given him whatever he desires. He’s like my kryptonite!
You know my snake example earlier? For me, its like, I see the snake, run away, find out if its dangerous, and if it isn’t, I come back. The snake is harmless. I am safe. You know what Eight does? He just stomps the freaking thing. Problem solved.
You put me in a sales type job, and I’ll study how to be a good salesman, body postures, what colors to wear to make people want to buy, what techniques work, et cetera. How does Eight sell? He just does. He’s a natural leader. How do you learn that? You can’t. Its just an innate quality, and it makes a mockery of me.
Eight shows me how weak I am when I’m doing everything I can to make myself strong. The worst part is that Eight is totally oblivious to the fact that he is doing this. Just being around him is enough to make me feel like a worm.The rare times Eight is in real danger, he gets a few quick tips from people like me, a lahdeedah, he’s off being superman again. Like I said, maddening.
What do you think of your friends Four and Six?
Both of them are great for different reasons. Four is usually quiet like me. We both share a taste for abnormal things, and I’m really blown away by Four’s creativity! Her only real downside is that she seems like she’s trying too hard. Some people try too hard to follow the crowd. Four tries too hard to not follow the crowd. Me? I just don’t care.
How about Six?
Speaking of following the crowd, Six does exactly that, at least sort of. Six is very self-contradicting, very hard to understand. Like me, he spends a lot of time thinking. He just thinks in a different way. We both have trouble making up our minds sometimes. His deal is that he’s constantly asking others to make up his mind for him, which is pretty annoying. Like they know any better than he does!
He gathers knowledge on things too, but then he throws all that info out the window and relies on people he trusts. Speaking of trust, he’s kind of weird about it. It takes him a long to form a belief about someone. He’ll even be suspicious, bordering on paranoid with some people.
Then, when you finally enter his inner circle, his trust is unshakable. You could steal right out from under him and move to Mexico, and he’ll be like, “Its cool. I’ll be here when you get back.” If a stranger asks him for a pack of gum though, Six will look at him like the guy plans to stab him.
That all said, don’t get the wrong idea. Six is a fantastic, loyal, friend. He doesn’t always get my weird taste in stuff, but he’s always been there for me when I overwork myself or don’t take care of myself. Between the two of us, people should call us the anxiety twins.
Thank you for your time Five. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Uh…nope. I think that covers it.
Welcome everyone to part four of my nine part series where I interview each of the personalities of the Enneagram. Click the following links to see parts one, two, and three. Today, I am interviewing the Four, also known as the Individualist/ Romantic. Welcome Four.
That’s an interesting choice of attire you have there.
You like it? I like clothing that just pops, you know? Check out my armband.
What is that? Is that…yak hair?
Heheh, I love doing that. I bought this from an actual witch doctor. It’s one of a kind. I didn’t get this at some crappy hot topic.
Why would you even have something like that?
Because it’s special. For the witch doctor, this was a labor of love. You won’t see anyone else wearing something quite like this.
Okay, well that’s very true, I suppose. So what do you believe, Four?
I believe that people need to find and stay true to themselves, no matter how strange or weird that true self is.
Okay. Can you tell me more?
Yeah. I know people get tired of hearing words like “sheeple” and “the man”, but both of them apply pretty accurately to our society. So many people just follow the crowd and do what everyone else does, that its like, they don’t even know who they are.
You take your average Joe Schmoe from Accounting with his black suit and brick red power tie, and does that guy even know what he is anymore? All he does is what his boss, or company policy, or literally what anybody else tells him to do. There is no room for uniqueness, individuality or for person to be a person in an environment like that.
If I applied for a job with an exposed tattoo and pink hair, I would automatically be rejected before the interview stage, just because I didn’t fit their mold. It shouldn’t make a difference, but cowardly people need something to be afraid of, I guess.
So I hear there are quite a few stereotypes of you out there?
Oh God, yes, and all of them annoy me. Goth…emo, punk, hipster, indie…on and on it goes, and the internet has its fun. Of those, only hipster and indie come remotely close.
Why is that?
It’s like, all of these groups, they want to be individuals, but they’re doing it wrong. They’re joining groups in an attempt to be individual! That ruins the whole point! If you want to be the next Picasso, you don’t paint like Picasso. You paint like you! That’s what Picasso did.
The hipster thing is partially true, especially with things like bands and the like. I like bands that nobody else has listened to, or that have a very unique sound, because it feels like I am listening to something special. But again, when you find someone that has listened to the same obscure band that you have, its pretty cool. It’s almost like finding a soul mate…almost. It’s cool to find someone amongst the herd of sheep that get’s it.
Until that band becomes popular.
Well yeah, then it loses the specialness. That moment is gone.
So you purposely gravitate to obscure and unknown things so you can stay individual and unique?
Well yeah, I guess.
If that’s what you always do, doesn’t that make you predictable? Is it really individual to search out obscure and unique things all the time? Couldn’t it be that the most unpredictable and individual choice is to do something normal from time to time?
If everyone’s doing it, how is it unpredictable?
Hmm. Good point. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, why do you feel the need to “prove” your individuality? Shouldn’t that be a given?
If that’s true, then that means all those people who wear the exact same clothes from GAP, all the people who talk and act the same way, all of those people who are just stereotypes with legs…all of those people are individuals too. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy into that.
Okay. So are there any personalities that get under your skin?
Oh yeah. Mr. Right and Wrong.
You mean One?
Yeah. Look, I get the whole “We need rules to protect society” thing. Really, I do, but One takes it too far. There’s so many unnecessary rules on the books. Most problems people can handle themselves, and if people do argue and dispute a little, so what?
One’s approach denies people from having many amazing experiences, both good and bad. I’m sorry to say, but that’s life. Plus, when everyone has to do what One says we should do when One says we should do it, individuality suffers.
Have you ever read “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest?” One is like nurse Ratched. He plays the “Good helping doctor,” but really he’s the craziest one in the nuthouse. You know how every snowflake is unique? Yeah. One can’t stand that. If One had his way, every snowflake would be the exact same so that no snowflake would feel left out.
Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration?
Hmph. Not much. Just treat it like a metaphor. One doesn’t appreciate the beauty of the way things are. He just wants all of the snowflakes to be the same, to keep them safe. Well, I’m safe enough, thank you. I like my life with a little risk and I don’t see the problem with that.
Okay. So tell me about your friends Three and Five.
Yeah, I’ll start with Three. At first glance, when I describe so-and-so with the red power tie and no soul, you’d probably think I was describing Three. I mean, you don’t get much more “The Man” than Three, right? Here’s the thing: He’s not really “The Man.”
Three is a guy playing the system for his own personal gain. He didn’t make the system. He is just manipulating it. That’s actually pretty cool and individualist if you think about it. He is like a chameleon, and yeah sometimes he’s a bastard who helps pass stupid laws, but I like to see him as kind of my student. The guy wants to be an individual so badly. You can see it. It’s this deep, underlying yearning he has. It’s like either he’s afraid to or he doesn’t know how. I try to set an example whenever I can. 🙂
How about Five?
Five is just a total nerd, and I have to admit, I gave a soft spot in my heart for geeks. Where I dress and act different to make a statement, he does it because he’s clueless and eccentric. (Those are compliments, by the way.)
The thing about Five is, he dresses however he feels because appearances don’t’ really matter to him. He’s too caught up in his head to worry about stuff like that. Like me, he acts strange, but for different reasons. I think he just has trouble understanding people. Honestly, I think he’s the only personality type that can come up with darker stuff than me.
There are things Five awkwardly blurts out that freak even me out, and that’s not easy to do. The weird thing is, he’s not even trying to. He just naturally thinks up stuff like that. He can come up with some really fascinating art, but it is usually too structured for my taste.
His biggest flaws are that he doesn’t always take care of himself, and he sometimes comes off as a know-it-all. His idea of fun is talking for hours on some obscure subject. Don’t get me wrong. He’s usually very quiet. Just don’t get him started on one of his fixations, or you won’t get him to stop.
Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up this interview?
Yeah. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are or what you should be. You and only you get to decide that.
Thank you for your time, Four.
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In the last couple of months, Jordan and the gang have really focused on growing away from our panic and freeing ourselves, but what if that freedom is not all its cracked up to be? Who’s not to say there isn’t a sort of safety in our fear?
That’s why, all this week, I will be officially hosting “Freedom Back to Panic” week. “Freedom Back to Panic” week serves as an opportunity for people to spiritually regress without feeling all that bad about it.
Freedom from Your Freedom
So you’ve faced your inner most fears and liberated yourself from them. Now what? Maybe, like
myself, you’ve stepped out into the bright, beautiful world, smiled at the birds, breathed in the new air at your renewed sense of self…only to find that being liberated and free is kind of, well BORING.
I mean sure, it’s kind of nice not carrying around all that emotional baggage, but be honest, don’t you kind of miss the drama, the electrifying feeling that comes with intense negativity? It’s like that intense, hair-raising feeling that comes just before getting struck by lightning. Sure the lightning itself hurts, but leading up to it? Man, what a feeling!
Say, for example, you’ve recently recovered from binge eating. You discovered, after much soul searching, that you were using food as a way to fill the empty parts of your soul. Now that you’ve healed the hole in your heart, what incentive do you have to continue eating? Well, I can give you an incentive: the objective fact that that brownie over there is delicious. Mmmm… brownies.
Oh, excuse me for that. I kind of spaced out there. My point is, even if your emotional wounds have
healed, why not pretend they haven’t for a little bit, you know, just for kicks? Panic is fun, because – Look out! GIANT SPIDER!
See? Come on, you know you enjoyed that. The other thing about freedom that’s kind of irritating is that it takes a lot of work. Sure, you could go out and connect with others and have a life, or you could stay indoors, play video games and watch other people succeed at life for you on T.V. Now which sounds like more fun? If you said “Living your life,” then you’ve never played Minecraft. So email me your “success and then failed again” stories. I’ll pick a personal winner and that person will receive absolutely nothing!
Until next time, enjoy your panic.