The Ancient Greeks believed that pride invariably leads to a fall. Christians still believe pride is a deadly sin. I don’t know how accurate these moral tenets are, but I dare say that a little pride is necessary for holding our heads above water.
I was at my old workplace yesterday for an appointment with my nurse practitioner. I got an odd sensation from seeing some of my old coworkers, who were unaware of my identity after ten years. The feeling was shame of myself for having fallen low. Instead of being an employee there, I was a consumer of their services. I had been away so long that I’d forgotten how it felt to be among other MI people fighting similar battles. I confess that I didn’t want to acknowledge being one of them, but the fact is that I am. My pride was wounded. Another guy sat down across from me and tried to strike up a conversation. I guarded myself in my response to his curiosity. He was quite open about his maladies while I was noncommittal. How much about myself did I want to share with this stranger? But at the same time, I realized that he was being the bigger person to welcome me to the facility. Also the word “stranger” was exactly what he was trying to overcome. I still didn’t like having such a mirror held up to me. It revealed me more than anything as being proud and vain.
This is a feeling for me to grapple with for a while until I can be as bighearted as these “strangers” who are just like me.
I had a therapist who cited an article as saying it will be another 80 years before mental illness is understood and accepted by the world at large. She even thought it would take longer than that. I just remember that for the Christmas party last year for our dual diagnosis group only two people showed up and I wasn’t one of them. I ended up staying at home with my depression for company. I learned of the turnout weeks later. One who came to the party had head trauma. Like me, she had no family to spend the holiday with. It had been my duty to show up and play Christmas music on my bass guitar, but I just couldn’t muster the motivation in my depression and my pain. Thus the party for two went on without me. One of them managed to bring a tree and the therapist made some great food. But where in the world were the people that had been expected? Maybe they felt the same sadness I did. More likely, though, they didn’t care enough about those of us living with mental illness to bother. Would it have made a difference if I had shown up for the dual diagnosis party? What had been the right thing to do? What if everyone did as I did? And it looks like that was what happened…
When I was young I had stars in my eyes about invention and innovation. I earnestly believed that originality was possible and to be striven for. A fellow student once told me that there are no new ideas, only new forms to express the same old ones. Many older people condescended that Ayn Rand was a crank whose ideal man was inhuman. They quoted Ecclesiastes as saying there is no new thing under the sun. I heard one professor opine that originality is only economical, that inventing new things was merely for making a buck. He was a Shakespeare instructor and claimed that the tale belongs not to the original author but to the one who could tell it best. Rand herself had heard arguments like these. She said that there would be pressure to begin by giving up; by spitting in our own face and sell our souls.
And then there was my mother who lauded Edgar Allan Poe as a genius. She had faith in originality, whatever the old fogies had to say. Just as Poe invented the detective story, she believed I could dream up something new under the sun. Was she just naive in her belief? Is there really such a thing as a new idea? Or, like Ecclesiastes, is it the truth that vanity of vanities, all is vanity?
What do you want to believe?
It is curious but you know, I am admittedly not a great blogger. It was my alcoholism that gave me such an egocentric attitude of superiority. Alcoholism gave me the nerve to consider myself the best at whatever I undertook, when the obvious truth was that I was mediocre at best. Alcoholism is a wicked disease that presents the world and human nature as something dark and evil. When it is overcome little by little it gradually emerges that alcoholism is only a state of mind. Being inebriated doesn’t show any great truths about human life. Such a mental state is artificial and induced by a mere chemical. But when ingested by the alcoholic, it makes life a hell on earth for everyone the drinker knows. The substance in the end corrupts the alcoholic out of human shape. I recall having a beard that reached to my chest when I was in the last stage. I went around with soiled clothes and was a scary sight to everyone who saw me. In spite of this reality, I persisted in believing myself someone special. It has taken nearly two years of sobriety for me to see more realistically. The narcissism associated with the disease is finally going away. I am no better or worse than anyone else. Everyone is free and equal in this life on earth we share. I just thought I would impart this information to you in case you encounter any alcoholic people.
The only thing that exists in this life is politics in the original sense of ethics.
Even in the relative discomfort of trailer life I found room for music jamming. Just by myself so far. First I had sent for my red SX bass from the movers over a week ago and my amp. The amp didn’t get shipped for some reason so I ordered a headphone practice amp from Musicians Friend. It arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon, hence amid some anxiety and cursing I got it plugged into the instrument’s output jack and in a moment was jamming to a preset drum rhythm. The device is made by Vox and so far is working out nicely. It has a few drum patterns and I might be able to adjust the tempo too with some experimentation. As for the bass tone, I was quite pleased. I believe it is true to the tone of the instrument itself, thus what I was hearing was the electronics I had installed with the help of a neighbor last August. The SX is a great little bass guitar for the money, and with a couple of mods is probably professional quality. I really love DiMarzio pickups for their boomy ceramic sound. The Fender high mass bridge I installed rounds out the package.
Musically, I played basic rock riffs to the rhythm pattern, mostly in E minor in an r&b kind of mode with flatted fifths here and there. I fell into the groove after a few minutes of warming up. Aesop didn’t hear anything because I wore headphones. The neighbors were spared as well. In an hour or so I developed a blood blister and had to stop. But it was a lot of fun for me amid the dreariness of living in a trailer. And fun is a big part of my personality. I take my fun very seriously… how about you?
For some reason, Blondie’s mid 70s hit “Heart of Glass” came into my head. I was just sitting here at the table when I heard Deborah Harry’s quirky voice. So out of curiosity I looked it up on YouTube and plugged in my headphones. It was cool! Harry looks like she is feeling no pain. I was intrigued by the image of a glass heart and what that might mean. Fragility I guess, but Harry calls her love a pain in the ass. I smiled at the disco ball and all. Just something to set the tone for a day. I remember hearing that song on the radio in I think 1977. I didn’t know much about music at the time but for my piano lessons and what was popular. What I knew better was my family and the doings in school. A lot of alcohol, but back then I didn’t know my family was any different from others. I saw some crazy stuff happen and still thought all families were like that. And later I turned into a full blown alcoholic myself. It soon turned out I had a heart of glass. I don’t know what the song means to me, but it brings back a few things.