I’ve learned that caffeine makes my paranoia worse, so the obvious solution is not to drink Coca-Cola. This is something I can control. Last night I had a lot of dreams, some of them very complex and emotionally distressing. Is my real life that complicated? And it’s the world beyond me that weighs on my mind as well. It’s a perplex my subconscious is trying to work out. I wonder, still, to what extent people are free in the midst of a pandemic. I had my little music jam last Thursday evening, just two guys, though now it seems I did something bold. I heard from another musician yesterday who wouldn’t have dreamed of getting together for a jam. People’s responses to the lockdown are individual and various. Perhaps I pushed the envelope a little, but I was determined to do something. My head was full of philosophy Thursday morning as I set about cleaning house. I didn’t think about how nobody else was doing music. But maybe it takes one or two people’s civil disobedience to change the general attitude. Time will tell if I did something foolish. Yet I think I will keep pushing for freedom until others get the idea. As long as it’s left up to you and me, we ought to do what is right according to our hearts. A lockdown cannot suppress the healing sound of music.
Five o’clock. I played my Dean bass and did some contemplating. I thought about how immature I am in the eyes of people who work hard for a living. And maybe they’d be right. And maybe it wouldn’t be fair to them that my life is easy. I could be shameless and unscrupulous regarding having a job. But still, my choices have been authentic, and they were mine to make. To me, anything was better than drudgery for another twenty years. The more pressure they put on me to show up and be productive, the more I wanted to get out of there. What did making glasses have to do with me? I had no interest in eyewear. It was just a job, not a career.
And so I plucked my green bass thoughtfully, tuning down to D a couple of times and experimenting with the intervals and harmonics, gazing out the window at my maple tree and the clear blue sky. I thought this is life, and we create every moment of it— through the notes on the green bass guitar. We all choose the life we live. Even if we don’t, it’s desirable to own responsibility for what happens. With the existential hero, we can say, “I know who I am, and who I may be, if I choose.” No one is a failure who wills his past, present, and future.
The experience of writing has become painful because it has no choice but to tell the truth. The truth isn’t always beautiful. I feel compelled to write it anyway. Music: Debussy’s Images. I went to the market to buy a cranberry ginger ale, but I didn’t say anything to Vicki about tomorrow. Didn’t want to make her think of it. Walking out the door, I noticed that there’s an American flag on their wall. I’m not sure why it caught my eye. “Ain’t that America, home of the free? / Little pink houses for you and me.” Maybe that was it: the way she’s worked for over thirty years, more or less thanklessly, at a convenience store. She needs to know that she is appreciated. Hopefully she’ll be back again Sunday morning… The sky is overcast today. I just thought of running into my tenth grade algebra teacher at Laurel Hill in my working years. His son had schizophrenia. I don’t remember our conversation very well. It was brief and I had to get back to work. I felt so imprisoned in the workplace, so I don’t like to recall it now. Mr Leslie was a very nice man, however. I recognized him right away in the agency meeting.
Nine thirty. Truth to tell, I absolutely hated my job at the optical office. Entering data was not for me. All the time I just wanted to express my original thoughts and feelings. So I eventually found a way to do that. Now I don’t feel quite so gagged with regard to freedom of speech. I still remember the issues that set me at odds with my family, and they were political. What you could or couldn’t bloody well say on social media. My neighborhood is divided into conservative and liberal, and I talk to both, though it’s getting more difficult with the former. There’s no excuse for racism, no matter what your background.
Seven o’clock. I took a risk on Coca-Cola because I really wanted to drink beer or something else with alcohol. But I wonder why I picked now for a time to do this. I don’t feel very clever at this time. I feel disappointed in myself for being stupid. What was the stress that pushed me to do this? I shouldn’t be feeling any pressure at all, yet something has been bugging me since the heatwave hit us. Life seems out of control, or rather out of my own control, and maybe by drinking I believe that I could seize some power over events. At least, this is what makes sense to me. It used to be that drinking was one of the freedoms available to me, and by doing so I could assert my control over my life. In the face of everyone who said I mustn’t drink, I stubbornly persisted in doing it in order to be independent and free. Rebellion is absurd sometimes. We go to self destructive extremes in the name of freedom and power over our own lives. What is the contrary of rebellion— obedience? But what is it that we must obey? And this line of inquiry will lead me to Milton’s Paradise Lost. I never bothered to read the whole poem, but perhaps I should.
I’m not feeling very intellectual today; no bright ideas. I’m frustrated for some reason. Loneliness, I reckon. Freedom is great, but in solitude it isn’t worth much. Except for the fridge noise, it’s very quiet in here. Add to that the looney music in my head and you get my interior theater… The theater suddenly reminds me of a scene out of Dawn Powell’s Dance Night, which I read in December three years ago. What a strange novel, improvised and out of the author’s control. I ought to finish Come Back to Sorrento and see what plot surprises come up. It’s interesting to observe an unstable writer doing an unstable book. Powell’s vision of reality will be rather eccentric and on the wild side.
Six o five. I just paid my CareCredit bill and now my balance is zero. It must have been 10 or 11 years ago when I opened an account with them. It was a lifesaver when I had no money for veterinary bills, and when Henry’s health was deteriorating with old age. And again I acknowledge that good things happen to those who stay sober. I feel much more in charge of my life since ceasing the alcohol. I don’t feel ashamed of my poverty at all; it’s still sufficient to live on comfortably. Nature has provided for me in ways I don’t always perceive. It takes perspective and a long glance backward to see what’s been done for me. The pattern behind my life suggests maybe that freedom is illusory, and there’s a bigger design at work than just my petty will. This bigger design is ever active and will provide for the future as well. Someday it’ll all be quite clear what nature intends. Hold on to the wave until then…
Nine twenty five.
The heat outside is already exhausting. It’s been hard on Aesop day after day. Today I’m going to try not to worry about anything. Whether I’m the master of my destiny or not is unknowable, so just resign myself to the ignorance. Maybe it’s desirable to take control where I can. The authorities can lock down on us all they want, but even then we have options. You can always choose to run a red light… The market has been out of burritos and Hot Pockets for over a week. I asked Vicki about a new shipment of food and she said tomorrow. So I’ll wait a little longer before making my run in the morning.
Lately the schizophrenia doesn’t bother me much. I still hear voices when there’s white noise in the room, but I mostly ignore them. I’m very thankful for my clarity of thought, which is owing to the Vraylar.
The sky is the same white color as yesterday, intense from the sun. This is one thing definitely out of my control. Nor will any amount of praying alter it. If I’m wrong, then I’ve been missing the boat all along. We seem oblivious to the fact that reality keeps going on even with our eyes closed. It doesn’t have to be looked at to exist. The things we wish for would’ve happened anyway. People are incredibly vain to believe that nature orbits around them, but human nature is another item out of my willpower.
Despite the heat, the sunshine is nice to look at. My dog had his breakfast at ten o’clock. I sort of miss drinking beer and being an honest reprobate, a rascal with some kindness about him. But in some ways, I’m still the very same person as when I drank. This is something I wouldn’t wish to change. So now I wonder if nirvana is for real. Is it really possible to eradicate all of your selfish desires and be the hole in the donut? They say progress, not perfection, but perhaps the ideal is not so great. But I can agree that kindness is a perpetual good. Sometimes it’s enough to just be who we are, and never mind living by doctrines and principles. One size never fits all. And those who judge us for merely existing have problems of their own.
It’s going to be a good day.
I’ve just about had it with everything. What makes a person happy or unhappy? For me, it certainly isn’t money. The richest tycoon in the world might not be happy if he’s alone. It’s supposed to be 94 degrees today. We’ll survive it. What makes people happy is community and togetherness. Something snapped in my brain after the last service I helped with. It was the injustice of the Last Judgment and the whole idea of the Second Coming. Christians actually wish for it to come, but I want life to go on as normal. I think that is the issue that forced me to make a decision. I may be un American in rejecting religion. Dunno. It seems very stupid of us to reject science. A while ago I thought of the struggles of Ayn Rand in this country. She hit a wall with American intellectuals, who were inclined towards mysticism. I should take down my book of her essays and give it a read. Maybe then I won’t feel so alone.
One o’clock. So much ambiguity surrounds certain kinds of morals, yet some people are so complacent in being right. They get the answers from a book or from a church— or from their heart, but everyone’s heart is different. I suppose it’s my having Moon in Scorpio, but I crave a passionate love before I die. Lust is the sin I can’t overcome, ordained by my stars. The world seems to forbid it. Obstacles are everywhere I turn. Still it requires more grit and courage to fulfill my dream. So much for reason and science when I resort to the zodiac for reassurance. My birth at the time that the Sun was in Capricorn and the Moon in Scorpio has resulted in quite a singular personality. Or is this merely a way of shirking responsibility for my identity? Sometimes I wish I knew how to cast a horoscope using an astrolabe and all the traditional tools of the astrologer. But one still has to take free will into consideration. I don’t know. It’s just another strange day in a strange new age.
Quarter after five. The above doesn’t sound like me much. What helped my mood at three o’clock was my success with the screwdriver in fixing the door knob. This gave me proof that I have some control over my circumstances. The reason why I was despairing was because I can’t control the hot weather or the spread of the coronavirus beyond just myself. I felt overwhelmed by the heatwave, from which we won’t be getting a break. At my most fundamental level I am a control freak, so having no control over a situation tends to depress me. Admitting powerlessness is not in my method for recovery, and maybe this is my problem with Alcoholics Anonymous. My belief system depends on freedom and responsibility. In every situation we have a set of options and are free to choose from among them. We are never denied this free agency.
After my sister called me yesterday, I wasn’t doing well mentally. Paranoia gripped me and hung on all night long. Family is good for that. Crazy things seem to happen in the summer heat. Two years ago something similar occurred in my life, involving a next door neighbor, a therapist, and an online forum.
Ten o’clock. Family is claustrophobic and makes my paranoia much worse. I experienced this the most before I met Kate in 2011. How can I get my mind off of it? I feel vulnerable and fear being attacked. I am just one person, and they are many likeminded people. Or maybe it’s just the out group that makes them seem that way… I really wish she hadn’t called. I wonder what makes me so individualistic? The freedom to be myself is all I want. If that is “selfish” in somebody’s book, then be it so. But I think everyone deserves the right to be an individual without compromise. There’s so much to be said for authenticity and integrity. The puppet strings of family are not for me, and I take philosophy over religion. With philosophy, one remains free and separate, autonomous and true.
Wee hours. I just thought I’d do some exploratory writing. The subconscious works in mysterious ways. I’ve been working on a puzzle for many months, trying to assemble the pieces, when the big picture is lost. I’m sure I will recognize it when it’s completed. What do Sartre, Ayn Rand, and Aeschylus all have in common? Is it the problem of human freedom? And I remember why I started reading Hugo four months ago. It was a gesture of fighting authority and asserting individual freedom. It was to vindicate Jean Valjean for stealing a loaf of bread. Ayn Rand resists collectivism while James Joyce embraces it. So who is right, the proponent of individual rights or the collectivist? Sartre makes me want to read the Oresteia of Aeschylus for its treatment of freedom and fate. All this reading is my response to the pandemic and the lockdown, which I chafed at from the beginning. I guess the question is why. Why is individual freedom important? If we give an inch of it, then society will take a mile. I think our fundamental liberty is at stake if this goes on much longer. And then what happens? Revolution? Who will organize such an effort? And who is the enemy? It seems to me like fighting a ghost, a mere phantom we call society, until something concrete takes shape. In the meantime, we can only hang on from day to day, asserting our rights in small ways. Eventually something has to give.