Have you seen Only God Forgives? I am going to spoil it in this post. It has a great soundtrack. People don’t talk in it. It is my favorite movie.
I am trying to be a person. This means just having basic self-respect. This means I am not in love with the girl from Starbucks. Beyond the five seconds of seeing her flip a page in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, she is a figment of my imagination. A projection of my own insecurities and cognitive disorders that I allow to bubble to the surface in fake blogs and manufactured emotion.
I am just trying to be a person. Don’t worry about finding emotional validation in someone else. Don’t worry that she – whoever she may be – doesn’t care that I exist. Build my life. Pursue my passions. Be a good person. Don’t expect anything. If worst comes to worse, take care of a loyal dog. And that would be okay.
Until recently, I thought the term “I need to work on myself” in the context of being single and out of a relationship was a stupid idea. What the fuck does that even mean? Get over your fake fucking shit, and just be a person <– that's what I used to think. What I understand now is that it means you used to fill your life with someone else and how they validated you. Without that person and without their validation, you are otherwise empty. To work on yourself is to build your own life. To learn to derive self-value out of the things you do. To learn to be okay with who you are and what you're doing. In other words – get over your fake fucking shit, and just be a person.
I can do this. I can be a person. I can grow past my failings –
"Do you want to order pizza?" she asks me one day at work. We don't speak often – this is important to note.
"I can't," I say. You guys know why. Because I am 150lbs. Oh let me guess – you're wondering if I have cancer. If I even lift. If I have an adult habitus. The gist is – you're wondering if I'm a person, or something less.
"You're the worst work spouse ever." Again – we don't speak often.
Outwardly, I laugh. Worst work spouse. Tell that to the other three. Inwardly, I realize that I carry with me unconscious signals. In ways that I can't control, I am non-threatening, safe, and kind. It's not that people prey on these characteristics. It's just that I'm a good-looking, smart, funny, sexually-revolting guy. I am not treated maliciously. I am just not a person. I am NPC in everyone else’s life.
"Why don't you have a girlfriend?" a friend asks me. "Are you shy? Are you the guy who waits for a girl to come crying on your shoulder about her boyfriend?"
"That's pretty harsh," another says. "You're basically saying he's scummy."
I am just not a person, and I am scummy. Is it too late? Can I change who I am? Can I fight the future?
- – -
Only God Forgives is my favorite movie. Julian recognizes who he is, and the evil that he’s done. He tries to do right. But he is torn between doing right and being loyal to those he loves. He tries to avenge the death of his brother. His mother manipulates him into killing innocent people by using his conviction to protect her. When he realizes –
“That’s not what she said.”
“What did she say?”
“She said – ‘kill them all.'”
– he tries to stop it from happening.
But he knows he has to pay for all he’s done in the end. And he accepts that. My hands have sinned – let them be cut off, so that I cannot sin.
Only God Forgives is my favorite movie. I believe in the idea of justice. You have to pay for the wrongs you’ve done. I was a bad person. I realize that looking back. I am paying for it now – I don’t mean in a cosmic karma greater plan way. Let me explain.
- – -
One of the first windows of opportunity for language comes early in life. We know that infants start out able to distinguish the sound of all languages, but that by six months of age they are no longer able to recognize sounds that are not heard in their native tongue. As infants hear the patterns of sound in their own language, a different cluster of neurons in the auditory cortex of the brain responds to each sound. By six months of age, infants will have difficulty picking out sounds they have not heard repeated often.
Windows of opportunity for language development occur throughout life. The window for syntax or grammar is open during the preschool years and may close as early as five or six years of age.
- – -
There is a study about the relation between hours of practice and success in a given skill. It talks about why some can achieve elite levels without countless hours of practice, and why others won’t even with thousands of hours of practice.
One of the other factors in determining whether one reaches an elite level – how young they are when exposed to skill development.
This is (one of) the (many) reason(s) I am not good at lifting.
Is it also a reason I never became a real human bean?
We make decisions to change in our lives. Today, I will be a person. Today, I will work on my issues. Today, I will try to get gooder at lifting. The problem is that these decisions were made long before we realized we had to take action. Did you start developing the skills and work capacity to train at an elite level at age 12? No, I was playing StarCraft and writing Sailor Moon fanfiction. Being a person is like learning a language. There are social cues that you pick up on, subtle signals you learn to read. What if you miss the window of opportunity during which you learn to do these things? What if you crafted yourself into a loner during high school? What if you fill your life with haikus about magic pixie girls who don’t exist beyond the three sentences they said to you four months ago and wonder why none of them like you? What if 500 Days of Summer speaks to you on a spiritual level?
What happens when you decide it is time to be a person?
- – -
Only God Forgives is my favorite movie.
I don’t believe Julian said that because he thought he would win. I think he said it because he believed he had to. He was obligated to. A combination of facing the man responsible for his brother’s death, and trying to do right in his mother’s eyes.
“You know who he is?”
Julian knew. He is a fucking Thai boxing ex-champion. But it’s his destiny to trade hands with this guy.
In a religious context – it is man’s destiny to submit to his God, usually after defying him and consequently being destroyed.
In a practical context – humankind has always sought to try the impossible. To fight fate. Most of humanity fails. Every once in a while, someone a little smarter, someone a little stronger, someone a little better finds a way. It is okay to be one of the many who fail. There is a biological drive somewhere deep inside you which admonishes you to try, to desperately struggle with the resources you have and are given. In a way, you are a slave to your instincts to survive. They are a prison, you might say.
Only God Forgives is my favorite movie. If you try to get good at lifting at age 20 or later with the only prior athletic experience being fake shadow boxing in your parent’s garage, you are probably going to not be good, lose mobility, and get injured. If you try to be a person at age 28, you have to face the fact that you are scum because of who you used to be. It’s okay. Take a breath. Stand up. Straighten your shirt. Get your shit kicked in again.
The idea isn’t that you are doing it to succeed. You are just fulfilling your destiny. Fight against what you are doomed to become. Succumb to it. You are only human. Maybe even less than that.
- – -
I cried hysterically watching Interstellar for a cumulative total of 15 minutes. I know what you fucks are thinking – it was a moderately well-done sci-fi movie that took all the rational, theoretical build-up in the first 2 hours, vacuum sealed it in a bag, boiled it alive, and then hurled it through a glass window on the 51st floor to splatter on the pavement for the final 20 minutes. And it was beautiful.
It is a movie about love. More than just romantic love. More than family bonds. As cringe-worthy as Brand’s monologue about it being a universal force with perceivable effects in our reality was, I have to agree. Love speaks to us. It speaks to me.
It says, love exists for you. Somewhere off in the horizon. If you squint hard enough, you can see it, the barest speck somewhere in the distance. Beyond a vast ocean of your own emptiness. And you will drown in it trying to get there.
Love asks the question, have you built a boat, have you developed your aerobic capacity and muscular endurance to row it over a long distance?
I say, no, I spent my week nights watching Day and two of his friends play Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. I did a mere 3×5 of tempo clean pulls every week to develop my back hypertrophy and pulling strength, to no avail. I get tired just from doing soft tissue mobilization, which fucking isn’t even a real thing.
- – -
Are the monolithic robots in Interstellar not fucking sick? A throwback to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and completely unexpected from the humanoid AIs that most modern sci-fi trend towards, i.e. Fassbender’s David in Prometheus. And TARS has a fucking humor setting that can’t actually be adjusted. TARS and CASE almost immediately became fan favorites. They are probably mine, second to Hathaway. Maybe not second to Hathaway, because I am trying to be a person who can overcome his faults. The character Brand isn’t real. Neither is TARS. Or the concept of the person I’ve built in my mind from the 40-second, 20-word, $19 transaction of buying a hamburger from the indie burger place in Deep Ellum with an attractive brown chick at the counter.
TARS, while not a person, is still useful. And likable. And has a personality. He is a robot which serves a purpose, builds meaningful bonds with his humans, and has a positive impact on his world.
Maybe it is too late for me to ever be a person. Is it too late for me to be a TARS?
Honesty setting at 90%. Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.