Where There’s a Will

Quarter of nine.

Today I made it to the little store. The construction crew actually gave me an escort through the traffic and pylons. I saw another pedestrian ahead of me who avoided communication with the men and took his chances on his own. Both ways got us to the market okay. I think my virus is going away; I started feeling better yesterday afternoon. It’s a white overcast right now, with showers. I’ve had my almighty Snapple tea for the morning. If I read something, it’ll probably be Mark Twain again, because I want to finish that novel. I can’t think of anything intelligent to say just now, except that it’s better to approach your fears than to avoid them. Go forward and negotiate them even if the sign says road work ahead. When the rain is heavy, put on rain boots and splash right through big puddles. The only real obstacle to progress is fear. Go up to the troll and bicker with him; he’ll let you pass most of the time. There’s always a way. 

Towards 2022

Seven o’clock.

I have absolutely no plans for New Year’s except maybe to make a resolution… or not. The weather might be better today; I can’t tell until there’s daylight out. I could try to call my sister this morning. I don’t care much. The only doctrine I need is existentialism with a little cognitive therapy to manage my life.

Quarter of nine. Michelle told me all about her Christmas party when I was at the store. It was something she really didn’t want to do, so I suggested assertiveness training; maybe take a class or something to learn how to say no. I told her she was too nice. Meanwhile, the roads are much better now and it’s above freezing. I didn’t see any ice anywhere. At this moment I feel lonely and bored as there’s nowhere to go, no one to see. I suppose it’s a good day to do some more reading. Sometimes I lose track of my identity and need a recap to remind me of who I am. Or perhaps I should take my own advice and be more assertive about my goals. I don’t know what I want out of my life today; I don’t think fame is a realistic aim for me. I need to contemplate this for a while. What do writers really hope to achieve by their writing? Maybe it’s enough to take charge of your life and live it fully. It’s give and take with social trends: who’s controlling whom?

Quarter of ten. I believe my life is my project, and writing is a means to empowerment. It’s raining right now; my dog came in from the backyard all wet. It occurs to me to reread A Farewell to Arms or do something new to me by Hemingway. This can be my resolution for 2022. 

Resolve

Wee hours.

Sometimes I get a bit of a temptation to drink beer, but at least four factors prevent this from happening. The fifth one is the certainty that, for me, alcoholism is fatal. It’s odd that people never think that bad things could happen to them; bad things only happen to others… From what I could hear last night, and from what people were saying, they were determined to have a good time for Halloween this year, and to hell with Governor Kate Brown. You can’t contain the human spirit when all is said and done, and oppression only fuels the fire of resentment and rebellion. I feel a similar way towards our regular church pastor, who has lost all hope and anticipates doom for humanity. After a while, this attitude grows very tiresome for the parish— or it did for me, anyway. I feel sad. It’s the middle of the night and outside is black as pitch. It’s going to rain all morning but so far I haven’t heard a sign of it. Aesop is low energy right now. And yet, even if I have to do it singlehandedly, I’m going to change people’s attitudes from despair to joy of living. Some aspects of church are toxic to me right now but I believe it can be turned around. Next Sunday I will go back and confront Pastor about his attitudes towards the pandemic and life in general. If God exists, he wants us to be happy. 

Bravery

Ten fifty five.

Here I am in the lobby of the agency. I was just thinking about how no one believes in Freud anymore, so maybe it was never important anyway. He was an addict to cocaine. Dunno, I don’t seem to be doing very well. I used to come to this place with a superior attitude, and now there’s no reason to feel that way. And I think of some people who take off like a skyrocket and never look back or feel grateful to those who helped them along the way.

Two thirty in the morning.

Aesop has insomnia. Funny; a dog with insomnia. I was dreaming of a kind of City of God here on earth; but truly, Christendom is a real condition of human life. When I used to work a job at the agency, my mind had very little to play with. So I embroidered fantasies out of the Christian reality I faced every day. It wasn’t much fun, and I grew to resent it over the years… until I finally quit that job and sought escape from Christendom on the Internet. I met a friend who helped me return to my senses when I suffered from delusions of religion and astrology. Now I wonder, do we really have to surrender ourselves to a vision of reality we didn’t invent on our own? Or, to be specific, maybe I need to get myself away from the agency again. It’s very hard for me to beef up my boundaries with a place like that, where everyone thinks exactly alike because no one bothers to think at all. If you do, then you think alone. And maybe this is okay, but still a person needs to express himself even when it’s something off the wall. It is not the fact that everyone else knows better than you do. Everyone has fugitive thoughts. The brave person is the one who says them aloud. 

Taking the Dice

Quarter after five.

Life in recovery is an adventure. Nothing is ever predictable, so when I get dealt crappy cards on a given day, I just have to accept my feelings, however dark they may be. But the deck of cards is influenced by the ones I play, and sometimes it doesn’t get shuffled very well in order to randomize what I get. I still would like to read the Oration on the Dignity of Man, only about 35 pages. The nobility of humankind is a great theme for when you are depressed and need an inspirational boost to get through the day. I particularly don’t feel like genuflecting in abject humility to some higher power, so maybe DDA is not for me. Somewhere along the line I got off the track, probably last December with Laurel Hill. I’d rather just be myself. And would this be such a crime? Who really likes to be led through brainwashing programs that try to persuade you of your helplessness? I don’t believe this at all. Maybe I listened to too much Rush when I was growing up, but you could do a lot worse.

Quarter after six. I think I’m going to cancel my ride to DDA for Thursday afternoon. I’ve never been a fan of the Twelve Steps. By now I’ve had enough of that nonsense. It is just plain unhelpful to me towards recovery, and I’m not even sure I agree with the term “recovery.” I either drink or I don’t drink, and this is good enough. I’m sick of being told what to think and what to do, so now I’m taking the dice out of their hands. The best game in town is the one I create. 

Big White Flowers

Quarter of nine.

I decided I would confront Rebecca on hiring a personal care attendant, so I sent her a text saying I wanted to talk about it some more before going further with the plan. I don’t know how she is going to respond, but it’s her own business. Likewise, my feelings are my business. It just seems like things have gotten out of hand since last fall. I’ve complied with other people when I should have asserted myself. I don’t like being pushed around… 

I gave Aesop his breakfast. The weather is cloudy, and I felt a couple of sprinkles when I walked to the store. No rain is predicted, but that doesn’t mean anything in Oregon. My magnolia has a lot of unopened green buds and should bloom next month. Big white flowers. I kind of like the overcast days in May and June. Pleasant memories come back to me this time of year and lend optimism to the here and now. I never underestimate the importance of freedom in my personal life. It’s the whole Don Quixote theme again of knowing yourself and what you may be if you choose. And if your freedom is a crazy delusion, still your actions proceed from this belief in free will. In some noumenal and subjective way everyone is free to choose what they do.

Quarter of ten. Rebecca texted me back with a reasonable reply. No worries. I think today will be a good day for reading philosophy or maybe Cervantes. 

Turtle to Teetotaler

Quarter after eight.

Cloudy and cold this morning. Haven’t gone to the store yet, and I have a phone appointment with Heidi at eleven o’clock. According to the IRS webpage, the information on my stimulus payment isn’t available yet. I wouldn’t know what to do with the money anyway… I feel a little tired, so I think I need my morning Snapple tea to wake up.

Quarter after nine. I let Michelle bend my ear a little about her financial drama. But I found out that Vicki got a new job with the school district doing Covid cleaning and makes good money. As for me, “I don’t care too much for money / Money can’t buy me love.” Elsewhere, the peer pressure from church gets on my nerves, though it didn’t use to. Putting your finger on the pulse of the times today is very hard to do; the spirit of the age is not yet obvious, except that some people expect doomsday soon. I speculate what if events shaped up like The Last Man, the science fiction book by Mary Shelley. I ought to read it for comparison with the reality. I started it once about twelve years ago, after I left my job and had no friends for a while… Back then, other people’s opinions usually overshadowed my own ideas and trampled me underfoot. In my job I always got the same question: was I a team player or was I just a turtle every workday? The truth is I was the latter; in fact I was the only Darwinist in the whole agency. My boss called me names like “Nero,” infamous for throwing Christians to the lions. Obviously it wasn’t much fun for me, so I was relieved when I quit that job and spent my days home with my dog.

Quarter after ten. Now I see that I was free all during that time, from an existential point of view. I don’t know if I’m a Darwinist anymore; I don’t subscribe to determinism these days, but rather freedom and responsibility, and this helps with my sobriety. If I didn’t believe I was free, then I could not make a choice— and surely that’s a fallacy. Nor was I born with a beer bottle in my hand. And the datum of family is just a circumstance; ultimately you choose your company and your future. Seeking approval from others in order to belong to a group often leads to disaster… Every day is an adventure, though my body has aches and pains from advancing years. My brain is still very keen… after my morning Snapple tea. 

Tuesday

Quarter after one. Pastor called me before lunch and said I was missed on Sunday. But the real reason he called was because he needs help recording worship this Friday. So I’ll probably go ahead and do that… I watched myself reading the lesson in church again. Yes, my voice is meek sounding, rather mousy. But it’s not a bad thing, necessarily. I might as well get used to it. It’s easy to see why I chose bass for my instrument: compensation. And I like the story by E.B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan, very much. My voice has made me a pushover all my life, but I never realized what it was until recently. My family took terrible advantage of me because of it. Jeff was a bully, and Polly almost as bad. My dog didn’t take me seriously. Even professional people have picked on me for being timid and mousy. I guess the written word has been a way for me to assert myself without depending on my voice… The sun is out right now but the clouds are heavy. Yesterday’s mail came not until nighttime, so I don’t know what to expect today.

Quarter after five. I read The Lotus Eaters episode of Ulysses. It ends with Bloom going to the public baths. Next he’ll be going to the funeral for Paddy Dignam. There’s a lot of alcoholism in the book, but that’s not the reason Joyce wrote it. Then the mail came, bringing bones for Aesop but no book for me. He chewed on the first one until he was tired and thirsty, and chewed some more. Now he’s resting at my feet. Before I cut open the package, I found about three dozen black ants in and around the kitchen sink basin. I turned the water on them and sprinkled vinegar about the spot. They hate white wine vinegar. Now it’s time to eat my cottage cheese. Not much of a meal, but better than nothing. I will call Shasta tomorrow morning.

Time and Power

Six o’clock. Even as I look on, Aesop is getting mellower day by day. He is a very good dog. When the temperatures are warmer, I’ll give him a bath in the tub. His age is seven and a half; he’ll be eight years old in September. I think about how much our life together has changed and go wow. My relatives are all either gone or very distant and have no power over me. I’ve made some really good friends who encourage me and don’t criticize. Many of them are far away, and yet as close as a finger tap. My confidence has grown to a healthy size thanks to blogging. I can handle just about anyone now. In my book, there’s nothing more fearsome than a human being. Only other people can make life hell for us. But not if we don’t let them. It’s crucially important that we take charge of our lives in a way that benefits us. I’ve seen some self defeating people, like the ones who vote against their own interests. Above all, it’s important to use your voice to assert yourself. Don’t let anyone sew your mouth shut. Never be devoured or gainsaid by anybody, especially if it concerns your life. Of course we will make mistakes, but nothing can prevent that, least of all warnings from others… In another hour it’ll be dark outside. Nearly seven o’clock now. Aesop’s mellowness is a manifestation of the passing of time. Everything is subject to time, and is its inmate. My mother’s little electric clock attests to this with a whir and a chug. All else is silence.

Word to the Wise

Eleven twenty five. I just listened to most of Selling England by the Pound. It’s my favorite Genesis Cd. I had a thought a bit ago: within reason, I am totally free. I can be a night owl if I want. I can have dinner for breakfast. I feel that freedom is very important. Somebody in my life was too controlling, and that had consequences. It was bad enough that my parents were overprotective, but then Mom assigned me to my siblings: a huge mistake. I was 34 years old when she passed away, definitely old enough to take care of myself. I went through hell with my family. But now I’ve got this big renovated house all to myself, and with all this free time and even a little money to play with. I didn’t orchestrate it this way. Life just fell into place with me along for the ride. I’m alone a lot of the time, but I’m okay with that. It beats being oppressed by someone else.

I’m even free from the psychiatrist I fired in 2017. Polly thought I was still seeing him when she sought me out last October. But that’s just another sign of what’s been wrong with my life. Dr T— was a dictator. He treated all of his patients that way. I couldn’t take any more of that. Everybody had advice for me, and then I realized it was all contradictory. Nobody agreed with anyone else. I found that my own opinion was good enough:— in fact, it was righteous.

It is so imperative that everyone trust themselves in a world where opinions and advice are ubiquitous. Judge the value for yourself. We all possess the right to esteem what is right and wrong, and what is important. Don’t be a sheep or a fish or any animal but a human being. And when you assert yourself, people will treat you with more respect.