Today I plan to go to church. I realized something just now. It’s the Peace Tea that triggers associations with a friend I used to know whose politics was very different from mine. We had a big blowup over a disagreement and I haven’t heard from him in 12 years. Probably I feel some regret for what happened, but some things are inevitable and no one is blameworthy. If anyone is guilty, it’s likely me for being a drunk at the time. But that bridge is burned and no way to apologize now. After today I’ll try to avoid Peace Tea and those memories of my lost friend. Or maybe it’s okay if I keep them conscious so they don’t go underground to wreak havoc… The weather is clear right now, though clouds are expected to roll in at noon. For every sunny day there are clouds and eclipses. Hawthorne wrote that the first things necessary for any utopia are a prison and a cemetery. Well said. Still I look forward to church this morning. It’s a good place to confess and be forgiven.
Two thirty morning.
Well, I finally took the bait and ordered the DNA kit from Ancestry dot com because I’m tired of guessing about my origins or the reasons for what I do. My father was adopted and never knew his birth parents, so the genetic test is the best I can hope for. There has to be an explanation for why I have difficulty with religious traditions, especially Christianity. I believe it’s because evangelism is often forcible.
Seven thirty. Another day of clouds. Today I’ll feed Aesop prior to going to the store. I got too much caffeine yesterday and overnight. The guy who called yesterday about the flea medication tripped over my dog’s name; kind of funny, though he felt embarrassed… The treatment program I underwent long ago did a lot of damage to me. I really wish I’d never gone there, and it’s just a reminder that assertiveness is critical to everyone’s well-being. It’s water under the bridge except I have such scars from the experience. Maybe it’s an issue of forgiving them and letting it go. Pop psychology perhaps, but it’s worth a try. After all, they knew not what they did.
It was gray and cloudy all day here with an occasional shower. At some point today I lost my concentration and decided to take a nap. I had a couple of things on my mind that worried me about whether I was a good person or not. Probably the hardest thing for anybody to live with is other people’s judgment and criticism of ourselves. So I dug out my book of Albert Camus and considered reading some of it. It’s been a long time since I read The Fall, and I never did read all of The Plague. I think it’s John 8:7 where Jesus says, “He who is without sin among you, throw the first stone at her,” and the accusers of the adulteress exit the room because not one of them is innocent. Camus picks up this idea and elaborates on it in The Fall, but he doesn’t incorporate the element of the supernatural. Many people get some inspiration from reading Camus. He shares a few interests with Dostoevsky, mostly crime and guilt.
My brother’s interpretation of the Bible turned a great deal upon the idea of judging and being judged by others, but unfortunately he himself was very critical of everyone else. He also gathered from the Bible that love is sacrifice. Probably he read the whole book like a continuous novel, which actually makes good sense. When I lent him my original copy of The Fall about eleven years ago, he never read it, and he misplaced it somewhere and I didn’t see it again.
I remember many times seeing my ex supervisor getting on a soapbox and preaching the most absurd stuff; absurd because he was guilty of the same thing, or something very similar, and he didn’t even realize his stupidity. But I should go easier on him. He was positive for HIV and he spent eight years as a meth addict. It was amazing that he could get up and go to work every day. I didn’t like him very much, but he was only my boss, and our jobs threw us together by random chance.
There’s probably a lesson in this letter somewhere.
Any kind of catnip would brighten my day, yet the responsibility for my mood is mine. If it’s not, then David Hume is right about causation or determinism. My dog now relies on routines rather than on his own wits. He’s on autopilot every day, not thinking of his next moves; not thinking at all. Living with him is possibly getting me down. Aesop used to be so bright and vivacious, but he’s fading at nine years old. He is just a creature of habit.
I called Guitar Center regarding pickup installation. Their tech is out today but back tomorrow and Friday. I can’t think of anything very intelligent to say now, except follow what makes you feel happy. Could John Watson really turn a garbage man into a lawyer as he boasted? Is there no such thing as native talent? I’m still stuck on Mark Twain’s “Man Factory” idea. He was also unimpressed by musicians, from what I can tell. Emerson was a lot different about poetry and music, the things that take inspiration from the muses. The sun has come out. My maple and oak have lost all their leaves for the winter. I regret that the medication is so effective sometimes; at night I can’t even dream like a normal person. I think what I need is unconditional love from someone, or just to be forgiven my weaknesses. Then it occurs to me that my harshest critic is myself; so how does that happen? If I disable the guilt, will I feel better? Maybe we should all cut each other some slack, maybe bolster each other up for a change. I know one person I can go easier on right away.
Although I like the holistic psychology of Jung, I believe that it never helped me with life problems such as alcoholism. What actually did help me was existential freedom and responsibility, attributable mostly to Sartre… I just had a dream that I drove my old green Nissan truck into a parking lot— where it was impounded for a hundred days by a middle aged woman with a wily sense of business. I accused her of being like a spider, luring people into her trap for money… Human beings would still have dreams even if no Carl Jung had ever come along. While he was a fatalist, Sartre was just the opposite, a libertarian. For the latter, individuals create their own essence. The thought of his philosophy gives me a hazy memory of being at the old Eugene Public Library in the spring of ‘87 with a friend. She was into woo woo paranormal phenomena and I was just a kid with an honest curiosity, though rather skeptical of her stuff. I needed proof before I could believe, like any empiricist. Yet I was a total fool for her, and she used me for something temporary and then disposed of me. She got away with it because she was beautiful. And now I see a connection to my dream of the impounded car lot, of being trapped by a black widow.
Everyone has a tragic flaw. It comes out in relationships with other people, and then you either forgive them or say goodbye. Either way is painful. And pain is the birth of compassion.
Outside my window, the City of Eugene street sweeper just howled past. It might be okay to get something sweet from the store— and I’m aware that I don’t feel very free lately. I feel encircled by government agencies moving in for the hostile takeover of my life. Is this paranoia on my part, or does the suspicion serve a purpose?
I had a nap from four thirty to eight thirty, and when I got up, my mind was somewhat clearer. Aesop, my dog, is in a good mood tonight. It occurs to me now what dictators my parents were when I was young; I could never do anything or go anywhere without rousing their suspicion that I might blow their cover. My dad was especially paranoid if I did anything different from usual. What kind of judgment did he fear? He and Mom were moderate alcoholics, but this didn’t warrant the world’s disapproval. His life was secure when he could watch tv, smoke cigarettes, and drink bourbon during the happy hour every day. My parents were godless people with no real friends of their own. Mostly they were terrified of being condemned, but it’s hard to know what for. What was their unpardonable sin?
I, for one, absolve them everything.
Quarter after eight.
I got the trash out in time for today’s pickup, which usually comes at around eleven o’clock. Next I went to the store. Michelle said she was very tired for the weekend from working two jobs again. The customers this morning were all guys, and some of them knew each other from somewhere else. Many people order biscuits and gravy on weekday mornings, though Michelle told me the owners need to get a new gravy pot. I hear the raucous cawing of crows somewhere out there. Aesop gets his breakfast at nine. Just now he’s finishing his peanut butter treat. If I don’t call my sister today, she’ll probably try to call me later this morning or even afternoon. I guess that might be okay. I missed having rehearsal with the band this weekend, but staying home from church was a good move. The sun splashes the backyard like orange juice on the greens. Now I reflect on the pointless suffering that people inflict on each other for lack of understanding, or sometimes from self defense, and of course from fear. It’s even harder to forgive people their trespasses. Our reflex is to demand an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and our justice system is set up that way. Right now I can’t really conclude anything with conviction. I read too many Tarzan books growing up, in which revenge is the oldest motive in history.
Quarter after nine. I feel tired and lightheaded from getting a poor night’s sleep. Aesop likes to rest on the hardwood floor of the hallway where the oak tree shades it. I heard Lenore’s chocolate Lab bark from her yard just now, so I hope she got back home today. Also I hear a suspicious sound, like homeless people rifling through our trash cans. Maybe it’s only Diana wheeling out her garbage. Aside from these noises, and except for my tinnitus, it’s remarkably quiet here. No one may pierce my mental privacy today. It is live and let live.
One thirty in the morning.
I just had a beautiful thought about my life today: it seems to me that I’ve paid my dues for whatever heinous thing I might’ve done in the past. If schizophrenia is a divine curse, then it’s been expiated at last. This doesn’t mean that I now have carte blanche to do anything I want. But it does mean that I’ve been granted a second chance to get my life together.
Practice with Mike and Ron yesterday afternoon was a good experience. The three of us had fun making music and getting reacquainted. Ron’s prodigious keyboard playing was a pleasure to hear, and the rhythm section of Mike and me got so it locked pretty well. My new Fender bass cut through the mix and sounded awesome. Yet I suppose it isn’t so much about the gear we use. An instrument is just a tool, and the musician himself is an instrument of the divine. Music is more than sound, even more than feeling. It is a meaningful message from powers we scarcely understand. Mythology is said to be the picture language of the soul. Likewise, music is a language of sound, but it is conveyed through the medium of time. Music moves… We plan on getting together again next Saturday for more practice. Funny, but Ron said I look kind of like Adrian Belew of King Crimson owing to my pattern baldness. I took that as a compliment.
Aesop is my hero because his forgiveness is divine. It’s certainly not human. I still have to learn to forgive people their trespasses and the things about them I disagree with. To grow a thicker skin, it seems, and not personalize everything that appears to be a threat. I think my mother must have been quite messed up but I never thought to assess her or compare her to other moms. Love is blind. I’m frankly glad that the past is behind me, so maybe her ghost needn’t be appeased anymore. The holiday depression is over with. Mom used to tell me that music was all I was capable of since my illness, but I’ve already proved her wrong. That was a relationship fraught with great pain. Now my debt to the past is paid, I can move ahead. I wonder why this year’s holidays was particularly difficult? Someday when I’m stronger I will unburden myself of some of my old books and music… or maybe not?
Noon hour. Lunch is done. Things really are changed on the new medication. I’m not so paranoid anymore, and I don’t read into people and situations as before. Polly remembered that I volunteer for the food pantry. It really is good that I don’t drink anymore. I was in very bad shape for a long time… The fall colors are beautiful again today. Sun is out, illuminating the golden leaves. I feel good. Sobriety and sanity are always good things. Mom definitely had a mental disorder that made her paranoid. And I had to grow up with that every day… I’ll go to the store before long and get some treats for both of us. Funny, the things I remember, Polly has no recollection of. So that forgiveness really is of paramount importance. Remembering trespasses and holding grudges avails nothing when others don’t even recall what happened. Just let them go and be happy. The sky is cerulean and deep to me, but for some it is merely blue. Memory is an asset sometimes, but other times it can be a curse. The present is the best gift. I will open my senses on my way to the store, try to feel everything. Breathe it all in for the future.