For the longest period of time, I had been unable to execute certain actions to reform habits in my life. For example, I used to speed all of the time knowing that I would get caught eventually and have to pay another fine, take another driver’s retraining course, and raise my insurance premium some more. Without fail, it always ended up happening. I would be driving through a school zone, going 30, scanning the area, thinking, “How fast am-” and, there’s blues behind me.

Most of the time, these were situations where I wasn’t even intentionally speeding, just on auto-pilot, felt like a 40, was actually a 30, and by the time I looked down I was screwed. Three years ago, I was going down a road in the neighboring town heading to work and was pulled over. 40 in a 30. $100 ticket. Then, two years ago, I was going down the same road and pulled over. 40 in a 30. The cop, puzzled, handed back my identification and apologetically asked, “Nick, you got pulled over about 10 feet down the road doing the same speed exactly a year ago. What’s the reason for speeding?” I explained there wasn’t really any reason and that I always think it’s a 40 even though it’s a 30. He laughed and said because it was such a coincidence that it was the exact day and so close in distance, that he’d let me off this time. I was insanely grateful, as I had never got off any previous tickets (except maybe when I first started driving at 18).

I ended up meeting this cop another two times. The same cop. In very close proximity to the initial ticket. I started feeling like I was living in some odd alternate reality with the consistency of location and cop. On the third time, (because I had a previous driver’s retraining course) I would be required to take another driver’s retraining course and potentially lose my license. The cop suggested that I fight the ticket to avoid that happening because for some reason he had a lot of sympathy for me. I took his advice.

I didn’t know what I’d do to convince them that I couldn’t afford the ticket and so I figured I’d tell the truth: I’m an anxious air-head when driving. I always used to worry about the people behind me so I’d speed up as to not hinder their movement. I’d leave for appointments and work exactly on time or sometimes late and would try to beat the time by speeding. With all of these thoughts in mind, I decided I’d start trying to reform my behavior so by the time the court date came around I’d have some evidence that I cared.

So, first, I began allotting more time to traveling between anything. Next, I’d search for the speed limit sign of any road and begin repeatedly saying it in my head, “30 mph, 30 mph, 30 mph.” I’d say it three times, at least, because that’s the amount it usually takes for any human to remember something. Finally, I started specifically chanting, “30 mph” in my head the moment I left my house to go to work and when I left work to go home. I truly felt reformed by the time court came around. I began to plead my case and the District Attorney interrupted, looked at me, tilted her head, and said, “Well, it doesn’t look like you’ve done much to reform your behavior, based on your driving record…”

Even though it hurt, she was right. I drove like a complete idiot for most of my life. So, I owned up to it. I explained what I had done to reform my driving, such as chanting in my head “30 mph,” and allotting more time to travel between anything. She obliged and put me on probation. I felt so relieved. All I had to do was not get a speeding ticket until July (it was a 6 month probation). I ended up making it past probation, effectively not paying the ticket, and have continued good driving behavior since.

I decided I’d start applying the power of threes to every other aspect of my life, rather than just driving. The latest thing I’ve been chanting is “accelerate, accelerate, accelerate.”

accelerate

Yeah, it’s probably an old subject but it’s a worthwhile one. I’ve realized this in the past, but not to the degree that this week has revealed. Mind you, I am well aware that I live in Northeastern United States in an industrialized nation of individual freedoms that are noble in their cause and extensive in their nature. I am well aware that I drive a Hyundai Elantra that is a fuel efficient car, I am capable of writing this blog (so I have both of my tangible limbs), I can see, smell, hear, taste, and talk, I don’t have a terminal illness, I don’t have bills because I live with my parents, I have a smart phone, I have food, shelter, and essentially a good life.

I get it. That being said, stress is still a benefactor in even the best lives, so what better way to vent than to write a giant blog post acknowledging your ignorance and still illustrating a perfectly beautiful picture of human turmoil that reeks?

Well, that’s what I’m about to do.

I got a speeding ticket a little under a month ago and just paid it off about a week ago. I felt good doing it. I thought: “I broke the law by going 70 on the highway,” and then in a burst of spiteful subconscious thought, “even though everyone fucking goes 70 on the highway,” but then continued, “so I ought to pay this fine to show that I acknowledge the laws and acknowledge my infraction.” Fair enough. I paid it, $100 down the drain. The next day I got a letter from the RMV. Those letters, capitalized, and in that sequence send chills down everyone’s back. But, this time, I thought, “Well, looky here, they’re sending me a letter of recognition that I was a good Samaritan and paid my dues for breaking the law, how kind!” Nope.

In the most formal way and with the most formal font, the letter read, “You are hereby notified that the Registry of Motor Vehicles intends to suspend your license,” the rest of the letter really isn’t necessary to read. You can see the natural disparity in thought: “I paid my $100 dollar ticket, so they want to suspend my license?!” Oh, but it makes perfect sense, see, if I had known the laws and recollected on the past two years of my driving, I would have found that I had three surcharges within a two-year period. They give me two options to get out of this suspension of license that are nice.
1) Take a driver’s retraining course for a measly $125 for eight hours one day or four hours split between two days

2) Commit suicide
(this wasn’t a formal option, but the other option was to go to a hearing in which the only thing disputed would be the charges and since they’ve already convicted me on the charges over the past two years, the option they’re really giving you is figurative suicide)

So, I chose the first option. This past week I spent $350 on a parking pass at school. So, that’s two weeks of pay down the drain between a parking pass, a speeding ticket, and a driver’s retraining course. Sweet.

There are two other issues that are largely a reason why I’m writing this post, but half way through this post, I realized something. Humanity sucks precisely because of posts like this.

EDIT: The funniest part about this is that I decided against publishing this post until now when I had initially written this post about two years earlier.

First off, showers are seemingly the greatest place to conduct thoughts. It’s as though your thoughts, apparently electric, conduct the water in a brainstorm above your head.

Anyway, the point of this post is to address what I think is at the heart of contention in the religious sphere of our society: authenticity. What I mean by this, is that currently in the United States (and really, the world over), there is deeply rooted sentiment that there is “one true religion.” Essentially, that, every religion thinks that all other religions got it wrong; the God, the principles, how to pray, what is right about marriage, and how to treat someone that is different than you. Then, there is the atheist’s stance, which I think was nicely displayed in a meme on Facebook the other day, so rather than typing one thousand words, here you are:

UniverseMeme.

Which, at the time of sharing it, I liked it. I liked it, but I didn’t love it – because, as you can see, subtlety, the atheist is taking his piece of the pie. There is condescension in the post. The words, “insignificant, little, fighting, scribbled, coolest,” and the phrases, “Middle Eastern desert sect,” and “fairy tales,” are all designated words to captivate the selective crowd (atheists) in an echo chamber of superiority. Recognize that the atheist’s failure here is the same as the devout religious person’s failure, which is attempting to claim a truth higher than their truth. These are attempts at desperate self-righteousness, in all their humor.

Ultimately, however, we might find that, for the religious person, rather than the Judeo-Christian God being the only one in Heaven (because this is the current mode of thought in the United States), maybe Heaven is a big enough place to accompany all of the Gods of all of the religions, the world over. And the takeaway point for the atheist here, is that at the very least, what we can recognize from religion and ourselves is that scrambling to be correct about something, especially one of such an abstract degree (and in all fairness, even multiple universes can’t outright deny the potential existence of a place such as Heaven, and actually probably promotes it) is worthless except for attempting to pursue a greater condition or moral value in the world. Therefore, maybe we should all recognize that every religion or religion-less person has a way of identifying their spirituality or relation to the world and be okay with the fact that we all do so differently.

 nailbitingOften, in our lives, we are presented with challenging circumstances that we feel compelled to overcome. Usually, there is some direct, linear way to overcome these obstacles. However, one circumstance that generates myself (and I’m assuming many others) a fair deal of anxiety is overgrown nails or hangnails. This, obviously, with modern technology, can be solved simply with a pair of nail clippers. The dilemma is presented when one is without nail clippers attempting to hurdle the obstacle of an overgrown or hangnail. The problem with an overgrown nail or hangnail is the discomfort it brings to your life. The initial intent of anyone biting their nails is to reduce them to make them less sharp or jagged, and less painful to the touch.

So, the scenario presents itself: you’re driving your car and suddenly your overgrown, scraggly nail with dirt encrusting the bottom half hits the steering wheel. You take a quick glance at it and think, “I wish I cut my nails…” and pay no more mind to it. Until, your thumb begins rubbing your index finger nail and you realize how sharp the bastard is. Again, you think, “I really wish I cut my nails…” but you put it out of your mind because that index finger nail has the last two weeks of germs accumulated underneath it and biting it down to a reasonable size is going to be a task in itself. You find yourself looking outside, trying to keep your mind off the disgusting, sharp, scraggly, filthy, index finger nail but to no avail, you find your thumb creepily rubbing your index finger again. You begin trying to telepathically dislocate your thumb from your hand to quit the constant reminder. Yet, as though you have no control of your hand, your thumb rubs your index finger more quickly and with seemingly more fascination. It seems as if the entire universe is conspiring against you to just bite your damn nail off and get it over with. And so, you give in, start biting your nail, and the dilemma begins –

Initially, it seems purely logical; your nail is long and sharp, so biting it will reduce and smooth it, therefore, no more discomfort. Suddenly, though, a huge hangnail is created through your nibbling. This sucker is buried under your lateral nail fold meaning if you’re going to get it off, it’ll hurt and probably bleed. Yet, you’ve already begun biting, so what the heck? You sink your central incisor and lateral incisor onto the hangnail and tug. It hurts, you can feel it pulling up the skin and you can see blood forming. You’re so close though, so you pull a bit more – and, dammit, you ripped the hangnail in half. Half of the hangnail is still underneath your lateral nail fold. So, you dig in deeper, you grip your lateral incisor firmly and pull steadily with great force, and you can taste blood. Finally, you’ve got it, the hangnail releases, your lateral nail fold is in shambles, but you’ve won the battle. You’re bleeding, so you mend it with your tongue and try to clean up the side of your nail by biting off some of the skin on the lateral nail fold, which in turn only causes more blood. You turn back to the free edge of your nail and begin working on that because that was the original intent. You bite and rip some of the free edge. You bite and rip some more while tending to the bleeding hangnail and lateral nail fold. You repeat this process of biting and ripping occasionally checking to see the progress. Finally, you believe your work is done and so you rub it again with your thumb to see how it feels: sharper than ever before. Small, sharp, jagged edges scratch your thumb’s smooth skin.

Ultimately, the nail-biter’s dilemma is a larger analogy for challenging circumstances in our lives. An unprepared attempt at fixing an impromptu problem will usually create a larger problem or make the problem worse. The more the nail biter bites, the worse the problem becomes. Not only does the nail become worse, but your overall hygiene becomes worse, i.e., your teeth corrode from biting, you’re literally ingesting germs residing underneath your fingernail, and your nail’s health is becoming worse (not just physically). However, with some simple preparation or presence of mind to have the tools on-hand, the problem is solved in a matter of seconds. And this goes for anything, for example, while the fastest human ever is roughly 28 mph and the fastest land animal, a cheetah, can reach speeds of 64 mph, we can just get into a car and blow the doors off of a cheetah. Our species has traditionally relied on tools as a way of enhancing ourselves.

cognitive
d i s s o n a n c e
plays the role of
m e s s e n g e r
ignorant and spiteful
toward the recipient of its
t r a v e l s
the peculiar
f a s h i o n
it walks
a i m l e s s l y
toward the recipient of its
ignorant and spiteful
t r a v e l s

- n.v.