Life of the Mind

One twenty.

Polly called me up and we chatted for an hour and a quarter. I was able to remember a lot of things that happened back in the ‘70’s when we were young boys. How interesting it would be if our family could somehow come together again in the near future. But it takes a strong desire on all sides to make this a reality. Also, a lot of things I’ve learned on my own will have to be suppressed if we are going to get along. Maybe it’s not worth doing. Yesterday afternoon I read the first 30 pages of a Henry James novel, which is about the furthest thing from my family background. I don’t know: when a person has the intelligence to aspire to something a little better than his kin, should he go for it or should he let it stagnate? It is a real ethical dilemma, yet I’m more inclined to concur with my first psychologist who advised the use of my brain rather than letting it rot. My brother, in my opinion, has made some bad decisions regarding his health and mental well-being. So again I assert that it’s better to be true to yourself, however selfish that appears… Today is a nice 80 degree day with no clouds. I don’t feel like allowing anything to prune my life of the mind. Let it flower like the blooms on my magnolia tree, large and white soft petals to the sun… 


The Outdoor School

Seven thirty.

I guess I was feeling kind of festive, because I bought a big bag of Doritos and some chunky salsa for a treat, plus two Snapple teas and a peanut butter bone for my dog. The same music by Prokofiev still dances in my mind, making me feel pretty happy. My band is probably going to rehearse tomorrow early in the afternoon; looking forward to that. The morning haze is going away while the sun comes out. It’s supposed to be warmer today, but still under 90 degrees… Family dynamics are strange things, particularly the language shared by the members, in which their beliefs are couched. I feel a bit uncertain about avoiding my relatives, yet otherwise I’d never be free and happy. In fact, I’d be miserable if I had to think the way my family thinks. So I suppose I’ll quit kicking myself about it and try to enjoy my life… Although I’m not wealthy by any stretch, my financial situation is fairly secure. I have enough to live comfortably, and that’s all I need.

Eight thirty. A little while ago, someone dropped off a package of snacks for Aesop. Just now I brought it in from the doorstep while my dog went bananas, barking his head off… Is individual freedom just an illusion? Sometimes it feels like we’re all in this together, everybody tied to everybody else with strings. You can do something unique, but you still jerk the strings attached to your neighbors. Beyond the family of blood relations sprawls the much bigger family of humanity. There’s a passage in Absalom, Absalom! I should look up that addresses this condition of bondage to family.

Nine thirty. On the other hand, an individual knows what he knows and there’s no reversing knowledge. It’s hard to say what is the right policy to adopt with relatives. Maybe I’m no more than a windbag. Another observation: it might be better not to intellectualize my feelings and life situations, but rather respond to them from the gut. Thus, a book by William Faulkner has nothing to do with me, and every circumstance is unique to the person experiencing it. Therefore, I should listen to my instincts and act accordingly. 

Signal to Noise

Wee hours.

I slept for about four hours, dreaming of how I was obligated to one or two of my followers on WordPress. I kept trying to escape and just be autonomous and free, not responsible to others who may read my blog. It was like the long arm of the law: a boomerang between freedom and captivity. I needed a get out of jail free card. Also it was like an interesting play by Jean-Paul Sartre titled No Exit. Yesterday evening I’d been writing in my journal something about cultural relativism, and was it really possible to have an original thought when we live together in a society? The availability of the truth is limited to the resources our culture provides. I wrote rather deliriously about my affair with Jungian psychology that went on for twenty years, until finally I made a breakthrough to cognitive behavioral therapy, and then only because the time seemed to be propitious. My home city was at last getting wind of the latest trend in psychology, some forty years after its invention… What do I really want to say that comes from my identity alone? But that’s just the kicker: there seems to be no independent self, none that isn’t borrowed from the readymade uniforms mass produced by society. Pink Floyd sang lugubriously about this in “Welcome to the Machine.”

It appears that in order to find your sanity, first you have to go out of your mind and be a knight errant. Again I ask myself, What did you want to be? When I was nineteen years old, I had a pretty good idea of what that was. But college became a complicated game of brown nosing your professors to get a grade. And then we were turned loose into a competitive world, up shit creek without a paddle. A good expression of this is “45 Mercy Street” by Anne Sexton.

Perhaps Goethe is right that the ultimate truth comes from within your heart. But the difficulty consists in decluttering your system to be able to recognize your voice. It’s the same as tuning out the radio static to isolate the pure signal.