It’s a Sign

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… 

Jiva and Ajiva

Seven ten.

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. 

Eyesight

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. 

Love and Fear

Wee hours before Tuesday.

I had a strange dream about presidential election, and it was related to my church. It isn’t clear who was the candidate for President, but it might have been myself. Whoever, I felt a very strong desire for something or someone, perhaps a woman I cared about. Yesterday evening I had another dream, about a crush I have on somebody I’ve known for a few years. It was a sweet little dream, so all hope is not dead. It contained a lot of water imagery, and it seemed she was teaching me to swim at some point. Toward the end, I ate black caviar on a tortilla chip with her… I often think, what would my life be like if I only had more balls, more masculine assertiveness than I do? It seems like sometimes you have to push the envelope of what’s acceptable in order to make any progress in your life, and move outside of your comfort zone, take some risks, and live dangerously until you win the prize. Even then, having a comfort zone can be a trap. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Not even fear of the devil should stand in the way of conquering happiness… Now I wonder what my parents were so afraid of, and why did they have to tyrannize over me the whole time they were alive? They had very little intelligence and hardly any generosity, hiding away with their television and cigarettes, doing no good to anybody. If they had looked at it from the worst case scenario they might have taken some heart, some courage to take the bull by the horns. They lived to be in their early seventies, but it’s more accurate to say they existed.

The root of all infirmity is fear. 

Clever Not Lucky: a Letter

Today has been rather blah and lazy for me because everybody was busy doing something away from the internet for the holiday. But I got good news from Heidi this afternoon: it looks like Laurel Hill might hire her again for some office hours. So I’m very happy for her and also for myself if we can reestablish our weekly visit together. Tomorrow at noon I have an appointment with Rebecca, but that should go okay. This morningat eleven Polly gave me a call and left a voicemail, so I called her back for a long chat, which was partly a stroll down memory lane. It’s like talking with people who never grew and never had their consciousness raised, perhaps because they didn’t have the hardware for it to begin with. Kind of like the fable of the city mouse and the country mouse. Of course I feel some regret for this situation, but I can’t let it get me down. Still, I realize that it’s not their fault that they remained behind in ignorance and naïveté. Life can be a rather cruel teacher, and it can divide and separate people from each other. I had an English teacher who compared his class to a professional football team: those students who didn’t make the cut were turned away. And while this protocol was very elitist and unfair, still I suppose it was a hard reality. It brings to my mind the question of equality and justice, but “some people are more equal than others.” So anyway, I talked with my sister for 75 minutes and dredged up a lot of old memories from when things were indeed more equal and everyone seemed to be on the same page. Her oldest son had gone away and left her alone for a few days. I told her that she could call me during the times when she felt lonely at home.

This morning I bought a tub of chocolate ice cream and ate half of it, plus I had a reuben sandwich for my dinner. Every day now I buy a doggie treat to take home to Aesop, who waits for me very patiently for about 20 minutes. My hike to the store takes only about five minutes, and you know, that place has been really convenient for me for all these years. I imagine that regulars like me have provided it with the funds to thrive and expand its horizons a bit. Today, Michelle complained to me that she had made 106 bags of ice in one day yesterday and said how unfair it was that the male employees get away with crap, plus they get paid more than she does to do it. I asked her if there was some agency she could report these practices to, but she didn’t know. She is also starting a second job at RiteAid very soon, so I hope that goes well for her. The other day I asked her about her husband, and she frowned and said he was hanging in there, so I imagine that he has started drinking again… The more I talk with Michelle, the more hopeless her problems seem to be. I wish I could do something, but all I can do is listen to her sad story. I guess what she needs to do is take responsibility for her life in a drastic kind of way— if she’s smart enough to do that. I know it’s hard to make major life changes, but it sounds like her life is unmanageable right now. But as you observed, she seems to be caught in a victim mentality.

I guess that’s enough of that topic. I would only add that it’s difficult to distinguish between luck and cleverness. I believe that it’s okay to have some ego and some self regard in the conduct of your life, because without these things you can’t control where you’re going. By the way, the word “conduct” is related to the French verb for driving a car: “conduire.” And in similar fashion, everyone’s life is like driving a car, whether or not we acknowledge this responsibility.

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. 

Dignity Again

Nine twenty five. I feel kind of lousy right now. I didn’t sleep well, either. Walking back from the market I ran into Patty, and she got my name right this time… I feel that my life is being encroached upon by those who think they know what’s best for me, when I would prefer to live my life in peace with no interference. Just set me free and let me be. I can tell Misty about these feelings at the agency this afternoon. I really hate being told what to do, and this situation has gotten out of my control… With a PCA, I’ll be hiring someone to prod me about my shortcomings, and as I consider this, it doesn’t seem very logical to me. Plus I know that I’d really resent being browbeaten. I hate feeling guilty or ashamed for what I am; it only leads to depression and likely a relapse to alcoholism. There are so many catch-22s in life, but the worst thing is when your freedom is denied you, and life feels like an exercise in obedience and conformity. But I refuse to feel ashamed of myself. Pride and dignity are so important to the wellbeing of any human being. Plenty of people will try to take this away from you. So don’t assist them in doing that. Otherwise it’s very difficult to reclaim your power. 

Morning of My Covid Shot

Seven twenty. It is a fact that emotional reasoning doesn’t work for determining what is true. We can feel all kinds of things to be true, but when we check the evidence we are often contradicted. Most people are not liars, so usually you can take them at face value when you ask them what they are thinking. Sometimes I need a tuneup of cognitive therapy, and today might be one of those times… I wish more people would learn to be realistic in their interactions with others, but it’s difficult to teach old dogs new tricks. It’s entertaining to play with Romantic ideas, though it doesn’t reveal the truth of situations. But I suppose that people of a Romantic persuasion will always rebel against reason, and this pendulum has been swinging in history since at least the 18th Century. The thing is, the Romantic perspective is no help to those who live with mental illness. For this reason, I never could agree with Twelve Step programs, which aggravate psychosis if anything. Most people still can’t figure that out. It also doesn’t work to fight fire with fire, or use homeopathic remedies such as religion to treat psychosis.

Eight twenty five. I just want to be at peace with myself and the world, but the world makes it very hard to be somebody. However, I know that my opinion is the one that counts in my life. How can others be right when their opinions disagree with each other? All of us are hunters in the dark. No one really knows anything, so the arbiter of truth might as well be you. 

Afterthought to a Friend

Just another thought.

In these circumstances, when I feel so helpless and powerless, it is very desirable to take what little responsibility for my life that I have. I do have the option to cancel my vaccination, and if that’s what I want to do, then I ought to do it, just to exercise my freedom. The consequence of this act may be to lose my band, and maybe the church won’t want me around either. However, the important thing is like Polonius to his son Laertes in Hamlet: to thine own self be true.

I repeat that I don’t like the science of sociology, while Pastor Dan has the opposite attitude about it— which is easy for him as the leader of a group of people. I imagine that he relishes the idea of having power over his flock. I guess if I’m a lone wolf, I might as well embrace my life, as solitary as it may prove to be. It’s far more essential to be my authentic self.

No Alibi but Freedom

Eleven thirty five. Sometimes the sunshine gets me down. It makes me want to drink beer again and forget reality. Everyday life is never easy for me. I long for old friends and the few lovers I once had. And the future is a blank sheet of paper, a complete unknown that is actualized with each succeeding word. Time doesn’t make sense until you review the entire page, and sometimes the whole book. History wants to say something to us, to give us friendly advice to inform our decisions. Funny thing, but Tim is a high school history teacher. I must be anticipating our talk this afternoon. Often while I write I can see through to the subtext, a psychological process under the surface. The real issues drive the generalizations I make.

Noon thirty. I feel sort of tired, but really I’m feeling anxious and nervous… Outside, there’s no wind or breeze. I imagine it’s fairly warm. It’s been an uncomfortable week for me, ever since I skipped church last Sunday. I don’t want to do this anymore. Times have changed. The nation has a new leader and the general climate is very different now… I just want to make my music and be left alone by moral spiritual stuff. I make my own decisions and I don’t depend on anyone else to do my thinking. I’m sick of sermons and preaching… and tithing. What does the church want from me? It seems they want my very soul.

Quarter of two. I took an ibuprofen for my back pain. The sunshine continues to do something to me. It addles my wits and makes me irrational. I want an alibi from my life, from the inside of my head. I wonder how Heidi is doing this week? I crave a 12 pack of beer, something to rocket me to the moon temporarily. I counter that by pondering responsibility for my existence minute by minute. My choices created this position I’m in right now. To deny this truth is bad faith. And that’s the amazing thing about philosophy, how it takes precedence over ordinary reality. There’s no schema in your mind that can’t be questioned and replaced, again and again. If common sense has its roots in Aristotle, then can it as easily be challenged by a Platonic worldview? How many idealists are there running around today?