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.
Six thirty. Sleepless and dysphoric. Caffeine again. The sunrise should encourage me. Yesterday it was grenadine and worth a picture as I trod towards it, but I’d left my phone at home. My new shoes were heavy on the asphalt, clopping along in rhythm. I’m just a saturnine Capricorn, goat footed and sure on the rocks. The job of the tenth house is to crystallize the mentality instigated by Aries. We bring up the rear, make sense of the times, and immortalize them. I might make a good historian. I was a decent archivist. When my life is incoherent, I take recourse to the stars, resort to my birth chart to reorient myself. I let things drop and just accept what is, because it can’t be otherwise. I feel the need to forgive myself for being me. What else would I do? Distort myself to be somebody’s poster boy? Something tells me I’m doing all right. The day is breaking cloudy with no rain. In a few minutes I’ll tramp over to the market for Aesop’s cans and something for me to drink. I might avoid Coca-Cola this time…
What year was it when I tripped Jeff L— in front of the whole family? He was just learning to cook, and everybody was so proud of him. It gave Jeff much pleasure, an ego boost. It was one of those irrational things like in A Separate Peace that made me stick my foot out as Jeff was on his way to the kitchen. He didn’t see it and fell hard on the floor. Everyone saw the effect. Even I couldn’t believe I’d done it. The family was horrified. We were gathered in the living room and preparing for dessert. It was Jeff’s big night, having cooked dinner and dessert for all of us. A little bug called jealousy entered my heart and I did this awful deed, just as Gene jounced the tree limb when Finny was about to jump off. We went ahead with the dessert, but the rest of the evening was strained and sober. On our way home, Mom said I shouldn’t have done that. But we didn’t go into my motive for tripping my nephew. I don’t remember Dad saying anything. And soon the incident was smoothed over and forgotten, though only consciously. It would be an event that festered under the surface appearance to perhaps irrupt later in the symptoms of some illness, not to mention terrible discord between me and Jeff. Something to confess and forgive…
Five thirty. Aesop is snuggled close to me. I guess I won’t go to the movies tonight, and anyway I’m waiting for Suzanne’s email later.
I’ve been thinking about how I’ve changed since my recovery. The people who wouldn’t have given me the time of day are now my best friends. I can’t believe my excellent luck. The women I know are the nicest. What other man could get away with hanging out with the ladies at the salon? I can’t imagine them putting up with my brother, for instance. The last I heard of him, he was a real skirt chaser. It was just his alcohol warping his behavior. The good things happening to me only come to sober people. My church group is awesome, and choir activities are coming up. I might get to play my bass with them again. If not then I can always sing.
The main defect in my character I need to work on is how resentful I am. The hardest part of being a Christian is learning to forgive. I admit that I’m bad at it. I tend to hold grudges that can go on for years. But that takes a lot of energy that could otherwise be used to spread a little happiness around. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” So difficult to do, which probably indicates how important it is.
Overall, right now I’m in a mood for giving thanks. It may be because the work on the house is progressing, however slowly. Perhaps it’ll be done by the end of the month, perhaps not; but I’m confident that it will be finished eventually. Just keep the momentum going…
Karen stopped me on my way to the store. She was inside her suv with the engine idling and her phone in her hand. She asked if I was coming to see Darlene tomorrow. Karen will be on vacation, but Lisa, Angela, and Jean will be there to tend to Darlene. She was also curious about the house, so I gave her a report. As usual, Karen had a million things to do; she keeps busy to avoid thinking. And that’s okay if that’s how she’s comfortable. At the store I bought some snack jerky and a two liter of Sprite; also a pair of scissors for less than two dollars. JR was in a good mood. Tomorrow evening there’s a movie at the church, but I don’t like leaving Aesop alone more than necessary. Katie called last night after eight o’clock and congratulated me on my two years. It was very nice to hear from her… The River Road community south of the highway is pretty cool. Pastor lives in Santa Clara, far up north, so I guess the population is more mixed there than I realized. Maybe everybody is getting more easygoing than was the case last decade. Nothing is ever cut and dry and easily classified, and that’s as it should be. The feud between my sister and me was so bad that we drew territorial lines in the dirt. When Grocery Outlet moved south of the highway, Polly refused to shop there anymore. Family can be a big fat mess. Pastor is all in favor of breaking down divisions between people, politically and otherwise. Those who babble about a second civil war and such are oversimplifying things. There may be hope for my family to get together again, but it takes willingness on all sides, and now doesn’t seem like the time. Polly is 71 years old and may have some years left. Btw, Heidi told me that she bought her own pug at Bobcat Pets in the Santa Clara Square just as my mother had done before. Perhaps my personal prejudice towards the community up north is coming to an end. But the family issues still remain…