Tag Archives: Kim Kardashian

Life in a selfie-free zone

“The self is something that can be seen more accurately from a distance than from close up.”–David Brooks

Imagine if Ansel Adams arrived here in a time machine.

He would encounter a world that turned everything he knew about his art inside out. We’ve turned the power of capturing beauty through a lens of exquisite composition and clarity back onto the one thing that seems to matter more: ourselves.

Selfies make me feel old. From the start, they seemed a touch banal. But hey, they are fun. You huddle up and squeeze into the photo and usually look weird, but it’s OK. It’s a moment to remember. I tried a few here and there, and they all looked bad. My son told me I had to step up my selfie game.

Now they have sticks to hold the camera to a better length. The selfie game is serious. Occasionally, I wander around Facebook–a neighborhood I liken to a crime-riddled war zone where the danger of mental beatings lurk around every corner–and I see people are EFFin serious about their selfies. And why not? Everyone is now the star of their own reality show. Jay Z and Jay T aren’t the only ones looking to elevate their “brand.” Screw that, I’m a brand too mutherf….

Only most of us are not. We are human, not brand. We can be truth, not pose. We can live real lives that are messy and real, not staged for social media viral approval. We can touch a human being, not text one.

Here’s the twist: We are fearfully and wonderfully made, yet that secret concoction that makes us us, isn’t often captured in a selfie.

If we understood our created/evolved/miraculous beauty a bit more, our need to have it reinforced, moment-by-moment with poses and quips and selfie art and like counts and a whole bunch of other chores in a calculated hope to affirm the beauty within, wouldn’t be so compulsive.

We live in a time of epidemic self-focus. Only the lens is not focused inward toward capturing a picture of a true self, but in search of a photo to be dispensed outward for approval of a pretend self. Psychologically this leans toward narcissism, which is rampant in our culture these days. But holistically it is more simple than that. We’ve lost our focus because we are viewing our lives backward. We are Kim Kardashian, not Ansel Adams. As such, we are missing most of the beauty that gives life purpose, both out there and our own, because a selfie is no way to view either.

I felt myself turning the camera of my life around recently. I looked for validation from the other. I saw instead a side of me that needs more work. Focus blurred. My son was right, I need more work in my selfie game, so I turned the camera back around and pointed it out. My moments of suffocation let up, and air came back in. Sad air. But air. Air is good.

New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote, “The question is: How do you succeed in being introspective without being self-absorbed?”

Turn the lens around and try life for a while in a selfie-free zone.

 

Thoughts on sobriety do change over time

Yesterday was one of those days. Sun warmed the city like only it can do in San Francisco in October. Then as day headed to sleep, it and the moon conspired to bathe the city in a celebratory orange glow.

It was one of those days. The bitchen ones (to use my favorite old school word). The ones you wish could keep on going.

It was also a day that in the past would have been flavored with alcohol, or more accurately, defined by alcohol.

The Giants were playing in the World Series — the final game of the year at our neighborhood ballpark AT&T Park– and the festivities were underway early. The Giants are a rolling holiday in San Francisco. Few things match the intensity of the fan following, night in and night out. The entire city turns into a festive bar, aka Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

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I wanted to be out in it, amid the jubilee. I wanted to experience it even if I couldn’t dream of paying $1,000 for a pair of nosebleed tickets.

The Bride and I wandered around the park, watching the tailgaters (sans tailgates) lining the waterfront and filling McCovey Cove, both on dry land and on the water itself.

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We stood among the crush of people watching legendary ballplayers like Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson arrive.

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(the true Home Run King… the other one, the Giant fraudulent home run king was also in attendance we learned from a tweet of him with Kanye and Kim Kardashian).

We dodged the lines to neighborhood eateries charging $10 cover with a velvet roped line of people waiting for entrance simply to watch the game on TV across from the park where it was being played.

Then we went to a neighborhood dive that we once loved, sitting on the bay, with good food and plenty of booze flowing. We used to drink a lot there and I hadn’t been back since I went into rehab.

We found a table and ordered. Club soda and a diet coke. We felt guilty, like our server would spit in the drinks. But she didn’t. She was nice. We ordered food and watched the first couple of innings.

The Bride asked me once if I was OK. It took me a moment to realize what she was asking. Did I feel triggered to drink was what she meant?

“I feel great,” I said. And I did.

The Bride said she still felt guilty holding down a table, so we ordered dessert. I tipped her generously. She really never complained. It was all in our head, the past irrationality coming back to life in a boozy setting: That somehow everyone else in the world drinks all the time just because we once did.

The Bride got caught up in watching some very loud people over in the bar area making very loud jokes to each other they alone thought were hilarious. She likes watching the theatrics. They remind her: There by the grace of God go we.

We found a couple standing in the way of the server around the 5th inning. We gave them our table, slipped out and walked home down the harbor. Back at our place we watched the rest of the game, a joyful 5-0 victory for the hometown nine.

I woke up this morning without a hangover. I ran through the still trash-strewn streets and smelled the  faint odor of sour mash and old hops and urine that is distinctly urban after a big night. As the sweat worked its way up through my head I realized I had a great day and didn’t miss out on thing. In fact, the lack of alcohol enhanced the day in many ways, not the least the great feeling when my feet hit the floor after a restful night sleep.

I would have never thought the day would come when not only would I not miss alcohol on a big festive night, but actually be glad I didn’t drink anymore. Five years ago the thought would have been laughable, a punch line or a curse. Now it’s a simple truth.

Days go by and in them are some that I miss drinking more than others. Sometimes I feel its loss and sometimes I feel like I’m living just a bit compromised because of my own problems in the past.

But then more often than I not I think something different. Life is full, far more vast and colorful and beautiful than it ever was in my drinking days. I think, “I am blessed.” I know I’m not missing a damn thing.

Thoughts do change. They do indeed. So take it one day a time as they say, and let your thoughts catch up the sobriety you may only now be learning.

Because if you stay the course, I promise you, you too will think differently. You will see a better day.