The Biggest Wave

Six o five.

Last night I thought about my girlfriend from ten years ago and how liberated she seemed to be. Just now I remember that she and I were each the youngest member of our respective family, and according to a book cowritten by John Cleese, the youngest child is the most independent and free of all of them. Also I was thinking of how I regret our breakup every single day. I chose to quit drinking and being a free spirit because it would have killed me otherwise. Still there’s this regret for what used to be. So then I considered Hellenistic philosophy again, their dilemma over ethics of happiness. Epicurus and Zeno disagreed on what constitutes the good life: the pursuit of pleasure or stoic restraint and self discipline; while the Skeptics simply didn’t know either way. The position of Epicurus was actually more complex than that, but traditionally people have simplified the picture like this. I’m still a Skeptic on the matter and I would never discourage anyone from living life to the fullest. And yet, the song by After the Fire from many years ago ends with, “The more you live, the faster you will die.” The same from Pink Floyd: “And balanced on the biggest wave / You race towards an early grave.” So, what is the value of our freedom if we can’t do whatever we want to do? Well, it beats the alternative. 

Saved from Science

Quarter after six.

Six hours ago I listened to another CD by Herb Alpert, and really loved “You Are My Life.” It is so late Sixties, with the big string orchestra, the old Fender bass with flat wounds, and the full chamber ambiance. Alpert’s voice was pretty good, though he was a better trumpet player than a singer. They also do a version of a Bossa Nova called “Anna” that people might recognize, and a sweet song titled “Good Morning, Mr Sunshine,” a quick paced little waltz. It’s always a pleasure to hear real musicians on real instruments as opposed to the synthetic crap we’re stuck with today. I guess I’m just an antiquarian, maybe an old fogy or a sentimentalist some of the time. The progress of technology usually has pitfalls for our ecological wellbeing. It seems desirable to regress to a more primitive state in order to save ourselves from science… I have to take out the trash this morning, then go to the store. I’ve got a meeting with Rebecca at nine o’clock. I just deleted the email with the news from my inbox without reading it. The clouds outside are tinged with magenta as the sun slowly comes up. Aesop gives me the eye and settles down again. 

64 Degrees

Eight twenty five.

An hour ago at the store I asked Heather if she thought rock and roll was dead, and she answered no. I said why not. She replied that the stuff young people listen to is just crap. She was raised by her grandmother and is kind of old school. Yesterday, I spotted some 3 pound bags of chicken jerky for dogs that I would have bought if they had been in the system at Community Market. The weather today is quite warm for this time of year, with a little bit of sun through the covering of clouds. I will decide at the last minute whether to go to church this morning. But I’m not really in the mood for hearing a dull abstract sermon about things that likely don’t exist. I feel more like seizing the day, maybe taking Aesop for a little walk later today, and celebrating being alive. Life has as much potential as we give it, and futurity is a friend just waiting for us to grab our opportunities to change and grow. Time never quits, but keeps moving on with or without you. And the only eternity is here on earth… Aesop barks at a car that just drove by the house. I’m thinking that I’ll resign from Our Redeemer so I can be free and independent to live life my own way, not dictated by a “spiritual leader.” I think I’m smart enough to navigate existence on my own. Hopefully my worst mistakes are all behind me. Already I have a plan for my day today. Plans can go wrong, yet with some flexibility, all shall be well… Well maybe I’ll go to worship one more time.

Quarter of noon.

I made it there and back on foot and heard the sermon: in some ways, Pastor said the same thing I’ve been saying about here and now. The difference is that he expects Christ to come again at any time… Is there anything wrong with judging an opinion for yourself? Does it indicate excessive pride if you do so? Some people believe that critical thinking is a recipe for unhappiness; but then, recall Socrates: the unexamined life is not worth living. Plato thought original thinking was indispensable, and everything is subject to scrutiny. But sometimes I feel like I don’t know much, and today is one of those times; except I know it’s too warm for November. 

Used to Be a Bacchant

Quarter of seven.

I’m just getting ready to go to the store for a Snapple tea and some food. The light outside is gradually coming on, showing the gray sky in my window. It may be warm enough to go without a jacket, and no rain is forecast for today. Later I should read a good book to try to goad my brain out of its lethargy. What I really miss is playing music with friends. However, I’m not a Dionysian person anymore since I quit drinking. It’s still hard to figure my life out.

Quarter of eight. Aesop looks more alive than he did last night… To say that I used to be a bacchant is a romantic way of saying I was an alcoholic. There are different ways to intellectualize alcoholism and make a culture of it, but a skunk is still a skunk. And yet for me, sobriety is the undiscovered country, the last frontier of experience. After four years, I still don’t know what to expect with my life without beer. If I’m not exactly happy, then I’m at least alive and fairly healthy. Different kinds and qualities of pleasure are available to people. I guess the life of the mind is good enough for me. It is said, Live by the sword, die by the sword, but I’ve put the sword away, and the dragon I once fought has shrunk down to a baby alligator. Don’t feed it and don’t piss it off and it will stay little and cute… I’m looking at a lonely day ahead, but it beats a day of frenzy and uncertainty— sometimes. Both offer a chance to learn new things. 

Golden

Quarter after nine.

Doomsday is just ahead. What I fear the most is condemnation by people.

Wee hours of Saturday.

Friday’s big adventure is over with. Aesop is still exhausted but now we don’t have to do that again for another year. I don’t have any plans for later today; a good opportunity to relax for a day. Right now, the room is absolutely silent. Silence is golden. 

Before the Ordeal

Wee hours of Friday.

Aesop, my cattle dog, has an appointment for an exam and a toenail trim this morning at ten o’clock. He is doing pretty well right now, since we tried his sedative yesterday. For my part, I’m trying to minimize my dread and superstitious fears of what could go wrong.

During the day yesterday I wrote quite a lot in my journal, ending up with some thoughts about the historical effects of intellectual movements. It seems that whatever the existentialists start, the flesh and bone religion of the common people finishes. I remembered a chapter from Les Miserables titled “After-Dinner Philosophy.” The Christianity of the poor and the working class was not good enough for the hedonistic nobles who rejected God and the afterlife. Apparently, society has been structured like this since at least the time of Victor Hugo. But what happens when a self styled “antichrist” like Nietzsche comes along and preaches the “superman?” Maybe George Bernard Shaw has an answer for me in one of his plays. Man and Superman is a work of literature I never got around to reading. I only know that Shaw was a Socialist born in Ireland and living in London, and self educated out of a museum. He lived over a hundred years ago and made his living mostly as a music critic.

But none of this argument is here or there to Aesop, who has to go through an ordeal today. 

Seven Heroes

Eleven thirty at night.

The rain is as hectic as my day was today; it’s dumping down my duties outside. Wednesday has been a time to orchestrate the rest of the week, with five or six phone calls, a text message, and a visit from Damien to do yard work. Only now do I have some time to sit back and think a little about life. At least two people were very heroic in helping me out today. Darcy saved me from going without my medication for the next two weeks; I just need to go pick up the free samples. The dispatcher at Oregon Taxi was open to having Aesop ride with them to his appointment Friday morning. And finally, Damien came over and braved the rain and the nightfall to clear away the oak and maple leaves. That’s three people. The fourth person was a newbie at the call center for RideSource just learning her job. Also the UPS driver delivered my books to me in the pouring down rain after darkness fell. Sixth and seventh are Michelle at the little convenience store and my cattle dog Aesop, who provide a great service to me every day. Service like this makes the world go around, while the best I can do is to thankfully write about it. 

Normal Tuesday

Eight o’clock.

This morning I was able to dream normally, so I was happy for that. Dreams are like oracles from a wiser part of ourselves, and I always feel more human with a dream life. Dreams form our conscience. A hundred years ago, people used the word “moral” to refer to everything psychological, and “conscience” was synonymous with “consciousness.” I’m still torn between biology and psychology as they pertain to behavior. The streets are drenched from the rain last night, like every November, the sky a solid gray sheet. Some of the leaves underfoot are treacherous on the way to Maxwell Road. Michelle at the market wore her blue shirt that says, “Well bless your heart!” They were very busy with customers today. Everyone was courteous and kind to each other. I saw mostly guys, but also a few women and girls. Roger was just coming home in his Dodge Caravan when I rounded N. Park. I read the headlines in Apple News this morning, but went no further. Occasionally I skip the news completely; it’s either bad stuff or something off the wall and silly. Also Misty called me out of the blue and asked to reschedule my visit two weeks from now. There’s a low rumbling noise in the southwest, probably railroad sounds. Now a train horn blows. Life indeed goes on. 

Stigmata

Quarter of two in the morning.

Another night as black as coal. This simile recalls an old U2 song, “The Unforgettable Fire,” for me. The day I bought that record I took my SAT test in preparation for college, and I scored very low on both parts because I didn’t apply myself. If I felt that way, I suppose I shouldn’t have been in AP English that year. The truth is that I knew there was something wrong with me, though it defied definition for another seven years. Well, whatever. The important thing is the here and now and what you do with it.

When I left my psychiatrist’s services, I chose to be out of the closet with schizophrenia, to just take my chances, because deception felt wrong to me. I wasn’t even sure of what I was doing, but I wanted to be honest with people. Now, I don’t believe I sabotaged myself. Someone has to do something to change the stigma attached to the illness and it might as well be me.

Schizophrenic people are no more violent than any other population, according to a person I knew with a degree from Boston University. And Fuller Torrey writes that the majority of them are remarkably nonviolent. Speaking for myself, I have never been in a single fistfight. People with schizophrenia are usually more harmful to themselves than to others. The intelligence and temperament of people are separate issues from the disease of schizophrenia. It’s very unfortunate when the media spreads bad publicity of a schizophrenic person who committed a crime. A therapist told me that another 80 years would have to pass before the public would be accepting of the mentally ill. Until then I contribute what I can to that cause.