30 Years of Paddling Into The Void

I try not to engage in the nostalgia commerce, but I’m less than a month away from turning thirty years old. I can’t help but think about the three decades I’ve been alive. Can’t help but think about everything that’s transpired. So much amazing music, innovation, literature, film, and brighter bits of western culture created since I was born, July 1st, 1986. A large portion of the content and materials has been positive or created to illuminate problems and promote connectivity. It’s a little overwhelming.

In my lifetime, computers have become a household item; even for those living in poverty. We have most products of world culture at our figure tips in a 24 hour cycle of content creation. Information is moving beyond classist forms of possession to a more fluid open source availability. A good idea is measured by its social utility, not it’s monetized worth, and because of these open sources of information and content, we’ve broadened our definition of worth beyond a reflection of self interest. We are moving forward. Transgender issues are being discussed nationally. Our brothers and sisters, in an evolutionary use of those terms, are free to express their love in the eyes of the state. We’re taking steps everyday that were unimaginable thirty years ago.

It’s mind-boggling the innovation and technological progress we’ve experienced since 1986. There’s never been a better time to be an autodidact or humanist. Outside of systemic prejudice and the archaic nature of the gatekeeper system for cultural monetization, you are only limited to the possibilities you can imagine. Your vision of yourself has never been easier to bring to fruition. You can effectively engender any positive nature of yourself or reflect the positive nature of others, and that’s the beauty of existing.

With all that being said, I could write a book about the events that have personally affected me and my view of existing in this specific time, but I’m not sure anyone would read it. With all the information at hand, we’ve become more impulsive in our consumption. It’s harder to sustain a consumer impulse, so I’ll just give you a list of personal truths acquired over thirty years. I’ll try my damnedest to keep it brief, functional, and entertaining.


1. Have a Plan. Live Your Plan.

Legacy, pride, branding, nationalism, and general attitudes of possession over social perception and dialogue is as futile as market speculation. Those who try to convince you otherwise is a tool of a bigger mechanism, working you into their narrative, or are personally delusional. Maybe all three.

All you have to do is the thing directly in front of you and you can choose what that is if you’re determined to do so. Your only responsibilities are reciprocity and creating the goodwill you aspire to experience.

Terence McKenna was a little off-world on some topics, but he hit the nail on the head when he said, “If you don’t have a plan, you become a part of someone else’s plan.” So live a life you design through function and utility in all measurements of self-worth, and if you’re the empathetic type, your self-worth is funneled back into society.

Cutout projected mechanisms centered around social dissonance, and find continuity between intellect, social presence, and lifestyle. A little easier said than done, but it’s something to aspire towards.

2. Communicate Clearly and Consistently.

Saying “no” is a stance of power. Saying “yes” is submission. You own yourself. You choose the function of your life. Submit to rationale. Stand against lack of rationale. Very simple. If you’re vigilant, you eventually won’t have to say either because of the continuity in your design and actions will be understood. Live consistently. Be understood consistently.

And I apologize to the women reading this, I know this is a “man’s world”, policed by cultural violence through verbal, emotional, and physical force. This one is harder for you. All the tiny penises in the world got together and decided they have to control something in the vast void we float through with unlimited uncertainty. We deal with antiquated phallic cultural phenomenons like war, violence, and possession everyday. I try not to support it, but it’s there and you can’t ignore it. What I will say is that no person can control your consciousness and ideas. Understand yourself, push your talking points, and together we’ll make equality a reality, not a fringe idea in opposition to domestic life. We can normalize rationale and equality if we stay consistent and mindful.

3. Limit Destruction or Harm.

You’ve got one vehicle to sire your vision and goodwill. It’s precious. The odds were very much against you being a sentient being in the universe. You could’ve been a rock or some space dust. Life is about the long game. Avoid destructive narratives. Avoid delusions of grandeur. Be simple and aware.

4. Educate Yourself.

The deconstructionist tendencies I picked up stemmed from my youthful destructive streak, but it has served me well. Learning the function of information is my personal totem. The use of information is the reason information exists. Always start there. Don’t avoid things because you don’t understand them. Observe, experience, engage, and repeat till the dark becomes a lack of photons. Understand yourself. Understand your fears.

School never ends. It becomes an endless doctorate program of livelihood, useful knowledge, and mental health.

5. Enjoy Relationships.

Relationships in your teens and twenties for the most part will be experiments; treat them as such. Get rid of the weirdo walt disney image of romance and companionship in your head. Love is not possession, posturing, or a gift, not reciprocated. Love is a mutual act of support and lifestyle solidarity. It’s a choice and you have to make it everyday.

It takes two to tango, but there’s always other songs, other dances, and other partners. Live accordingly. Self-love first. Reciprocal love second. One-sided love doesn’t exist.

6. Be Aware, But Don’t Make Yourself Sick with Awareness.

Injustice and cruelty is socially inherent for a myriad of reasons. There are people in this world that kick dogs and feel nothing. There are people in this world that think injustice is made up. Simply put; a large portion of the population lacks empathy unless they can see themselves on the victim side of a problem.

Combat the dark side of humanity with everyday grace and empathy. Sociopolitical issues are slowly moving towards resolution. There will be missteps, but the historical trend is a slow march towards resolution; spite current top-tier occupiers of our power structures projecting narratives of a stalemate. If you want to change the world, start with how you treat others. Inspire people you meet to find joy and peace in respect of all inhabitants of our gorgeous trash heap, Mother Earth.

7. Consider Everything.

Binary thought is instilled in us through public education. Current political infrastructures limit educational resources to create the basic cable version of miseducation. You go to school long enough to learn there’s a right answer, a wrong answer, and a line to get wherever you are trying to go. Life is much stranger than binary thought and submission to a projected order of things. Your constant submission to a system you didn’t create is a projected baseline social function. Remember reality is in the nuances and abstractions. Abstract thought is what carried us to the moon. Abstract thought created vaccines. Abstract thought created most of our culture and innovations; the real pulp of existing as a collective.

The reason we don’t have many moderates in the political system is because the political system reflects the majority of citizens’ understanding of issues. We believe there is a right and wrong to every situation, but the truth is more nuanced and usually doesn’t work within the hardline narrative of binary. Politics, economics, gender, and sexuality is just a few of the constructs we have projected and maintained binary logic to create social dissonance within ourselves and society. We find false perversion in the basic nature of ourselves and neighbors because we’re projecting it. Think, empathize, and come to a nuanced conclusion. Life is not multiple choice.

8. Respect Everyone.

Don’t identify people as problems. People are not problems. Miseducation is the problem. The empathy you lend a southside Chicago teen is the same empathy you should lend an Alabama Trump supporter. No matter what they’re doing in the moment; it’s about the power of narrative and miseducation. When you win an argument with no large scale social repercussions, you essentially shadow boxed an idea and have nothing to show for it aside from some sweat and toxic ego satisfaction.

Some of these could be misconstrued. I spoke plainly of complex issues, but these realizations have created less dissonance in my life. The basic problem is we think if we create enough content to support our lifestyles we can fill the void we’re paddling through, but we’re mostly adding to the void. Simplify and organize yourself. All that shit you’re worrying about is usually not real.

I didn’t go to college. I lived life, traveled, and made a lot of music. It is what it is. See life as what it is, see you for what you are, and turn down the volume on everything offbeat between the two. You will feel better, but more importantly, you will feel better while living better.


Charles Ray Hastings Jr. is a musician, producer, and writer based in Huntsville, Alabama. The twenty-nine year old Alabama native has written, recorded, and produced over twenty-five solo and band albums and has had essays and short stories published through webzines, small press, and magazines like Before Sunrise Press, Two Dollar Radio, Flaneur, and That Lit Site.


About Charles Ray Hastings Jr.

Charles Ray Hastings Jr. is a musician, producer, and writer based in Huntsville, Alabama. The twenty-nine year old Alabama native has written, recorded, and produced over twenty-five solo and band albums and has had essays and short stories published through webzines, small press, and magazines like Before Sunrise Press, Two Dollar Radio, Flaneur, and That Lit Site.

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