So far I don’t know how I feel today. I’ll be seeing Gloria at nine this morning and maybe we can go do something fun, like a trip to the bookstore. The day yesterday went pretty badly except for early morning. I guess I was feeling lonely and uninspired. It’s totally reasonable to do something for recreation, especially when I never do anything like that. Going to church is just a shot of indoctrination every Sunday and it gets wearisome and irritating after a while. “If it’s all compliance, it’s a runaway train.” For a change I want to take control of my life. For so long I’ve felt powerless like a man with no balls. So much of rock music is about liberty and happiness, a message I grew up with, but somehow my life got derailed all over again when I gave my power to authorities outside of myself. “You lock the door and throw away the key / There’s someone in my head but it’s not me.” I used to write lots of posts on empowerment and I believed every word of it. But at some point I sold out my values to the agency and let them take over everything— except my bank accounts. I still have power over my finances, luckily. Generally I feel that I’ve been bullied into my current state of affairs, and I wonder what it’ll take to reclaim my rightful will. Because, the power is ours originally, to either embrace or throw away. It’s very difficult to get it back once you give it to someone else. This is my circumstance today.
Well I’m glad this morning is behind me and I have two days now to rest and take it easy. I started writing in my new journal this morning: really pleased with it. Seems to inspire me to better thoughts than ordinary blank books. A while ago I returned to my old theme of individual freedom, especially in Continental thinking, for instance Spain and France over the centuries, from Cervantes to Sartre. I just love that stuff. I always get excited for the idea of personal liberty, whether or not it’s illusory, perhaps an impossible dream. The point, I guess, is to keep the dream of freedom alive in our imaginations and work towards its realization. It’s awfully easy to get depressed with the belief that we are nothing but pawns in a government game, puppets controlled by a master puppeteer. This is especially true if you are a mentally ill person snared in the system, having to take the medication and jump through the hoops that ultimately boil down to economics and the associated greed and corruption. Even if freedom is only a dream, still dreams inspire people to action in the end. I might argue that Edgar Allan Poe flew to the moon just by writing a story about it, because posterity made his fantasy a reality, inspired by his original idea.
I had a good visit with Tim from church when we had coffee and a scone at Black Rock and then walked over to the dollar store to get a few things. It’s sunny today and forecast to be 59 degrees later on. I guess if I had to be graded on my independent living I’d get a D, or a low C at best. But this doesn’t really bother me right now. Tim remarked on my neighbor’s Spirit of 76 flag on his house. I shared with him that he’d told me that all you need to know are reading, writing, and arithmetic. Tim said that was classic. Oh well; politics is pretty silly stuff. It’s the ideology of the “real world,” but how useful is it in truth? Or how truthful is it in use? It seems like a lot of rhetorical hot air, though I’m fairly guilty of doing the same thing when I make posts. The purpose of my writing is ostensibly to raise consciousness for the fact of mental illness and try to empower those people. Also it’s to integrate their voices with those of the mainstream, at the same time being aware of the difficulties they face.
Quarter of eleven. Today is the calm before the storm Tuesday morning, so I’m going to appreciate this time, maybe read a book or write in my journal. I can play the bass if I need to let off steam or vent feelings of anger and frustration.
Quarter of ten at night.
I’ve awoken feeling overheated because the dog was plastered up against my side in bed. Before I slept, I made some personal notes while the rain trickled down like a narcotic lullaby. I said that I miss my old friends from an alcoholic social network and observed what an outsider I am today, not really belonging to any group of people because I can’t commit myself to a particular system of beliefs. I certainly don’t feel like waiting for the Second Coming to have something like happiness with my existence, and I don’t think life has passed me by; instead, it should be just beginning. I’ve spent most of my life being meek and mild, the thrall and victim of authoritarian parents who handed me down to my siblings to control, until finally I broke away from the whole family quite deliberately. I remember having dreams of my mouth being sewn shut, and even in my sleep I tried to speak but couldn’t get the words out because of the stitches. And if not for the power of the written word, my life would still be out of my own control, yet you know it’s a real struggle even now. The world is set up to be a devouring cannibal, always keeping the upper hand and gainsaying my every thought, as if it were criminal to hatch one original idea. But the progress of the human species ultimately depends on original voices, much as our philosophers are stuffed into a bottle and thrown in the sea, a desperate message of distress afloat on the waves towards unknown shores very far from here… or a bottle stowed in a balloon and released on the winds to seek its fortune long away.
Eleven o’clock. I just got an email from my friend Mark, the drummer and composer who lives in the south part of town. He included a link to his Craigslist ad and asked me to call him tomorrow. I can hardly wait until then, though I’ll bridle myself and keep a level head.
Quarter after eight.
A few hours ago I read “The Delicate Prey” and didn’t like it very much. So much of Bowles deals with helplessness and victimization. Sometimes his characters are at the mercy of their own unwise impulses and bad decisions. If I were a member of AA, my Higher Power would be independence, which is really a contradiction with the meaning of the program. And if there’s an essence of independence, I wonder what it would be. I could never admit to absolute powerlessness, the first step of AA. It is just the opposite thing that is needed: empowerment… It must have rained all night long. Now it’s cloudy with a little sun at intervals. The anniversary of my mother’s death happens in two days, marking twenty years that I’ve been living on my own. It’s been far from perfect, but I managed to stay alive against very unfavorable odds. The forecast says more rain at noon. Maybe I’ll get home from church before the rain starts. On the other hand, it sounds like a shower right now… Yesterday, my brain was riddled with superstition, so I had to stop and assess what was wrong. But by now I seem to be feeling more or less okay again. Feelings of terror and helplessness are not constructive, so I consign all the past with AA and the other trash to the wastebasket.
I’m having a rather rough day, though the rainfall is a kind of consolation, like sympathetic tears. Dunno; I’m just unhappy with my role as a person with this illness. The inside of my house is a dirty and cluttered wreck, and likewise is my mind sometimes. The two posts I published this morning I trashed; they were just inconsistent with my usual beliefs and attitudes. I guess I’m okay with the open door policy regarding church, the flexibility to come and go as needed. Today I feel like no kind of existential hero, but even the underdog will have his day. All I really want to do is empower people like me with mental illness by means of this blog, and to show you what we’re capable of in spite of a diagnostic label. And if you get some entertainment along the way, so much the better… Right now feels like sort of a trap, a lot of closed doors and windows, and every road leads me back to either church or the agency. The dice I was given are loaded and always land on snake eyes. If only I got just a fighting chance in the real world, the outcome would be fruitful. In the meantime there’s this blog to be my domain, a place for being simply myself. I will do what I can to get myself together in time for the New Year.
The morning is still benighted for two more hours, but even so, I might go to the store at opening time: six o’clock, and see Michelle. What makes a nice person nice and a mean person not nice? Michelle is made of sugar and spice, in accord with the old nursery rhyme. In colloquial French, the word for “nice” is sympathique; and “mean” is mechante. And the person who wears a frown is malheureuse. The rain is forecast to start again at noon today. It’s warm enough outside to go without a jacket. I think Aesop would probably like to get more chicken strips, so I’ll oblige him if they still have those. Pretty soon I will leave the house and just pretend there’s an invisible sun in the sky.
Six fifty five. I heard about Michelle’s weekend while I was at the store. More out of control stuff; her life seems quite unmanageable, so I hope she gets some help. Perhaps she’s been a little too nice and not assertive enough with the people who push her buttons. People generally talk about their “spiritual leader” nowadays, but I’m very skeptical of this, of course. No supernatural power is going to take control over your life and make everything better. It’s all up to you to take the wheel and drive your life like a car, with as many passengers as you wish. Even God can take a back seat if you must have one. I won’t go to hell for saying so, either… Now the sun pushes over the rim across the street from me, illuminating gray clouds. The gibbous moon was directly overhead when I went out an hour ago, accompanied by a few stars through an opening in the cloud canopy. Nature is enough.
Quarter after one.
I’m kind of glad I did what I did and stayed home this morning. It helped me to scan my new magazine, so maybe I could grab a book and read a few chapters, particularly in the Harlem Renaissance volume I’ve got. I am tired of feeling broken and helpless, and at the caprice of fate, or whatever force controls my lot. And I know I’m not alone with these feelings. The people need empowerment somehow. It’s not only my failing body that traps my mind, but also this age of lockdowns and government strong arming. Somewhere I have a book of Thoreau with Civil Disobedience in it. This essay may resonate with my mood today. I guess it’s okay to feel angry and frustrated with events and conditions in the world now. One of the smoke detectors in my house has harped at me for five days to replace its batteries. I have stubbornly refused to do that, probably out of noncompliance and nonconformity on a miniature scale. What more can I do? What can anyone do? At the store this morning I saw a male customer wearing no mask, but nobody said anything. The signs on the front doors make it plain that everyone is expected to cover their face inside the building. Maybe I feel a bit jealous of this guy who broke the rules. Why should there be a double standard for him? We all feel the way he likely does, but we don’t act on this impulse. For my part, I feel my mind imploding under pressure from my body and the outside world. And the smoke alarm goes on chirping at me minute by minute…
The sky is pinkish brown from wildfire smoke. Yesterday afternoon I revisited a place on the web that serves as support for people with schizophrenia. But now, the appeal of this site has diminished for me because I don’t want to identify myself as mentally ill. Rather, schizophrenia is just an accidental attribute and not a definition for myself. If it’s true that the essence of any human being is freely created by himself, then why choose to mortify your own spirit? Even if I choose images from the zodiac for my nature, it’s still me who does the choosing. The one who esteems and assigns value is always oneself. It isn’t something external. We determine our identities and design our own fates through self expression. In the beginning is freedom of the will.
Eight forty. I’ve been over to the market and back again and seen a few people this morning. Suk worked the store himself because Heather went to a convention of beauticians in Washington DC. He said he’d like to see more customers in the morning because it makes the time go faster. I caught myself buying more food than usual due to increased appetite from my med. So I began to ponder selfhood and the issue of freedom: just what is the soul in its purity? It seems that part of behavior is material, like karmic particles stuck to the life principle, the monad, the soul. But you don’t have to be a slave to physics; you can override it as long as you are self aware. Across all philosophies, it appears that the individual soul is entirely responsible for its destiny by choosing certain actions, good or bad… I dreamed about my brother and a nephew last night, both of whom have serious problems with addiction. I only wish they could see the light and take care of themselves. The key to their liberation could be forgiveness.
Seven twenty five.
After four doses of the Risperdal, so far so good, except last night I had some difficulty breathing in bed. But as I lay there, eventually I recalled a recent dream of my first bass guitar, and then melatonin kicked in and I fell asleep. Late last night I made a few pages of notes in my journal, with the rediscovery that I am far more Platonic than I am Christian, as I’ve known from twenty five years back. Probably this is due to my education. Nowhere else than a university will they teach you to think for yourself. Of course it depends on how you use college. It never occurred to me that I was responsible for my student career, and that my actions were chosen deliberately by me. Do I know only what my school wanted me to know? Yet I still don’t feel like a cog in the machine or a yes man to readymade beliefs. Sitting through a sermon nowadays can make me wiggle a little in discomfort. When an argument is bad, my reflex is to raise objections and questions. Not exactly like Christian faith, which is blind and credulous.
Eight thirty. Reason is a power of eyesight and insight, a bright light that shines a path through your life. Feed it on good things and it will grow to be a great lighthouse in the storm of BS… It is still early in the morning, the sun not yet up very high. I’ve got no agenda for today, which suits me just fine.