I'm an empiricist. That means I believe that if you can't observe it and measure it, it's balderdash. This is why I scoff at things like “global warming” and yoga. The only people who lose weight and get fit doing yoga are those who were already thin and fit, and queer. Empiricism, by the way, is why I don't believe in the subconscious mind.
Psychologists theorize a subconscious mind resides in each of us. Operating below our awareness, the subconscious mind exacts tremendous influence over our feelings, behaviors and perceptions. The subconscious is ubiquitous. It's part of our every mental operation. It composes the crux of personality (habits, likes and dislikes, temperament, etc). Indeed, some psychologist put mastery of the patient's subconscious as the goal of therapy and the touchstone of mental health. If you can reprogram the subconscious, psychologist explain, you can reinvent yourself into the person you want to be. Via the subconscious, you can tap into a cornucopia of knowledge and power. You can control your emotions, lose weight, learn the piano, lower your blood pressure, heal your body. You can even win on American Idol or pick the right suitcase on Deal or No Deal – all by tapping into your subconscious mind. Or you can just “program” yourself to actually enjoy watching those crappy shows. It's that powerful.
Psychologist explain that the subconscious mind works like a computer. You have to program it. Most people operate according to the default programs installed in our subconscious by parents, schools, society and beer commercials. But with effort we can delete all the bad programs and reprogram it with stuff we want. To that end, the sleeping person's subconscious is primed for programming. Sleeping people's conscious mind, the “gatekeeper,” is shut down (this is the goal of hypnosis, by the way). But sleeping people can still hear. Therefore, the ears are a ladder straight into the subconscious mind. I saw huge potential in this back in 1993. I had this girlfriend who was into naps. I waited until my girlfriend fell asleep and played a tape recording I'd made. It repeated the following: “You want to have sex all the time, and you love giving blow-jobs.” Three weeks later I caught her in my apartment's laundromat, in a trance, sucking off my landlord while still wearing her night shirt and her mineral mask. It wasn't all bad, though. I got my security deposit back without a fuss.
I abandoned the theory of the subconscious mind because I couldn't observe or measure predictable results after tinkering with it. Like the physics theory of aether, it withered away from lack of proof. My girlfriend's escapade notwithstanding, I was never able to influence my or anybody else's subconscious mind. I tried affirmations, hypnosis, positive thinking, self-suggestion. Nothing worked. No matter what I told my subconscious, I was still a pathetic douche bag.
John Paul Satre declared, “Hell is other people.” If I may borrow the great philosopher's phrase, Hell is old people. What's my point? The point is, I hate old people. I don't really hate them. "Hate" is too strong a word. I just don't like them. Why am I an misagethope? One reason: they take an inordinate amount of time to do everything. Old people steal several minutes of your every day. Especially if there's machinery involved, like a car or a vending machine or something, old people distort time worse than a bad acid trip under a strobe light.
Most old people today were mesmerized by the locomotive engine, the phonograph and nickelodeon pornography. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that today's mechanical doodads perplex seniors. They need several minutes to apprehend the intricacies of say, the soda vending machine at Carl's Jr. Look at all those choices, Mildred. They've got half a dozen flavors of soda pop. There's lemonade. And then there's this damn “Gatorade.” Hell's Bells, Mildred. When did these kids start juicing alligators?
An old person will spend a minute and a half contemplating their senior-discounted beverage at the soda fountain. Such was the case when I dined at my local Carl's Jr. I purchased my Number 9 combo, grabbed my value-sized cup and beelined for the soda fountain. I spotted an old lady who, given her speed and trajectory, would make it to the fountain a moment before me. I had to act fast. The problem was, I injured my lower back earlier in the week. I couldn't bob and weave the way I usually do. My back was too sore to pounce ahead of Betsy Ross. This meant I'd be stuck behind her and have to wait until I was about her age before I could gun-up on Diet Coke. So, I queued up behind her. Sure enough, sure eh-goddamn-nuff, she stares in confusion at the fountain. Also, she's blocking access to the Diet Coke. Five, ten seconds pass. No movement, no signs of life. Was she having a stroke? Had the Good Lord seen fit to take both her and me out of our misery? No such luck. After a couple ice ages came and went, she raised her glass at a glacier's pace to the ice tea spigot. She tentatively shimmied her cup against the lever. Each spurt from the soda gun startled her, and so she recoiled. Imagine a teenager learning to drive a clutch. Come on, Betsy. You're not taming a cobra. You're filling a cup. Don't you have a few dozen pills to take with that iced tea?
I'd had enough. I conceived a plan that just might work. It had to work. I'd slip aside her, stretch my arm out and maneuver the glass underneath the Diet Coke spigot. She'd never know. Her glaucoma obscured her peripheral vision. As long as I loitered in the periphery, my breach of etiquette would go undetected. I could fill up, make my escape and hope she'd be done before I returned for a refill about 20 minutes later.
I executed my plan with success. Slipping aside her, I filled a 44-ounce glass to the brim with nectar of the gods, aka, Diet Coke. Now for my escape...
Just then, disaster struck. Or was it cosmic justice? I'll let the reader decide. You see, the awkwardness of my stance and the spasm in my back conspired to exact revenge/exact justice. I dropped my drink on the beverage bar and sprayed the old broad with soda. Yahtzee! The moisture liberated from her polyester pants the smell of mothballs and Bengay. My first instinct was embarrassment. But milliseconds later, an odd, unfamiliar satisfaction fizzed inside me. It foamed over into ecstatic joy, contemptuous mirth. It was that beautiful feeling you get when you witness someone taking a dose of their own medicine. Elation. The old bat paid the price for her indolence. And as it was an accident, I was blameless.
Still, prudence required the pretext of regret. I apologized several times: “Sorry. I'm sorry. That one got away from me.” The Coke-soaked old lady said nothing. She just sneered at me. I remember thinking, If only it were piping hot coffee instead.
As I ate my meal, I contemplated things. I reexamined my opinion of the subconscious. I'd ruled out its existence long ago. But now I had a big, steaming pile of empirical evidence substantiating subconscious behavior! What had happened was obvious. I internalized my anger. It settled in my subconscious where it fermented into malice. At the conscious level, my sense of civility prevailed; I simply endured the old lady's imposition. I remained calm, even stoic. Even the keenest eye couldn't discern my frustration. Meanwhile, my subconscious mind contrived an “accident” which it staged at the Carl's Jr. beverage bar, sniping the stimulus of my discord, namely, the slowpoke senior citizen.
Readers might attribute the dropped soda to chance: maybe it was just an accident. What readers don't know is, I don't drop soda. I've been drinking 7 sodas a day for 20 years. Haven't spilled one yet. I'd drop a newborn baby before I drop a soda. It's uncanny. The better explanation is, the subconscious mind rose and asserted its will.
What does this all mean? It means the subconscious mind is alive and well. The possibilities are endless. Now that I have a subconscious mind, I have to start programming it, posthaste. I'm no longer using my digital audio recorder for blog ideas. I'm recording affirmations to play while I sleep. To wit:
“I'm a kick-ass guitar player and a rock star. Attention: subconscious mind – I don't mean the video game craze, Guitar Hero. I mean the actual six stringed instrument. And don't forget to make me an actual rock star like Bono or someone like that.”
“I'm a kick-ass professional athlete. I'm super fast and strong, too. I'm like those UFC guys who can kick anybody's ass. In fact, I am a UFC Pride Fighter. Undefeated. And I've invented my own patented choke hold with a cool name that you, subconscious, will implant in my brain when I wake up.”
“I'm wealthy. I have tons of cash and a gold-plated house and a sweet-ass sports car. Imagine that Donald Trump fucked Bill Gates in the ass and then Bill got pregnant and had a kid. That kid is me. I'm every bit the entrepreneur, but I don't have a train wreck of a hairdo and also I'm not a dork.”
“I'm a graceful dancer. I'm even better than that Riverdance guy.”
“I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight. My body thrives on frozen pizzas, Mexican food and candy. My metabolism takes care of all that stuff so that I always look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.”
“All the guys envy my savoir faire manner and the ladies, too, who all want my phone number because they can't resist me what on account of me being a wealthy rock star and UFC champ and because I'm a great dancer who looks like Brad Pitt, as I mentioned above.”
Goodbye for now, dear reader. I have a nap to take.