Quarter of one. My mind is crowded with memories, all competing for attention. Mostly I wish to confess being a utilitarian, whether that’s good or bad. Everybody wants to be happy, I reckon. My sister would disagree, saying that what’s important is not our happiness but God’s plan for us. Well, not everyone has God on their side. I don’t know if I am saved or a lost soul, and it makes no difference if I reject the religious terms and use my own. I suppose I’m not alone in my epicurean beliefs. I regret that some of my friends are altruists to the hilt, for I don’t share their motives. It’s okay to derive pleasure from life, and even better to spread happiness around. Relieving the suffering of others is always a good thing; everyone understands pleasure and pain: that’s why utility makes excellent sense. But all my defense aside, at the kernel of my being is an egoistic impulse, and nothing can change it. People argue that egoism is childish and immature, and something to outgrow. Still I can’t envision me putting myself in the front line in some war I don’t believe in. And the more sober and conscious I am, the more convinced I am of my position… Hey look— Heidi is here!
Quarter of one. Church went fine. The holiday hullabaloo is over with, so the pressure is off of me. Sheryl gave me a hug at sharing the peace. She was happy to see me again. I stayed after for choir practice, and that went well. Doug also gave me hugs. Darold gave me his phone number in case I wanted a ride to church. Everyone was very nice and understanding about December being a rough month for me. Sue said they missed me at the food pantry yesterday. Cathy had baked me a pumpkin bread. I made the coffee for fellowship hour this morning, and taught Tom how to do it. Somebody brought German chocolate cake. Pastor was waiting in his office for me when I arrived. I walked in drenched from the rain on my walk to church. My shoes were soaked and my umbrella had to be hung up to dry. But I made it. Pastor and I talked a little about Neil Peart. He hadn’t realized the tragedies the rockstar had been through. I said that was what “One Little Victory” had been about: the band reuniting in 2002 and getting another chance to score… So I had a good Sunday morning, and everybody was quite happy. I walked home with the rain having abated a bit, and now, safe at home, it commences to pour. Aesop is overjoyed to see me again. Time to relax now and read a book.
Man, my birthday is only two days away! I still love having a birthday. I don’t dread turning another year older. What is death to me? Epicurus said death is nothing, and had the slogan stamped on coins for people to carry around. In his worldview, everything, even the gods, was made of atoms. The gods are of no concern to us because they’re too busy being blissful to interfere in human affairs. Nor was Epicurus a shallow pleasure seeker, but said that with some cakes and water, he could compete with Zeus in happiness. It isn’t so much the pursuit of pleasure as the avoidance of pain in his ethics… So what’s another year older to me? At least I don’t feel that I’m wasting my life. I’ve minimized the biggest pain, and that was guilt. Of all the emotions, guilt is the least useful. We need to get over the delusion that feeling guilty is righteous. Guilt is the chief cause of depression, from what I’ve seen. It is entirely disposable, so let’s remove this yoke from our shoulders and dare to be happy and free. Happy Birthday to me, big 53!
Ten twenty. Katie called me five hours ago to make sure I was okay. That was nice. It seems to me that since a significant amount of recovery time, treasures continue to fall in my lap. I get the freedom and respect I always wanted. Life is an upward spiral rather than downwards. This is what sobriety can do for anybody. It’s a delusion to think that drunkenness is freedom and happiness. Addiction is bondage and suffering. It only takes having done both to be able to contrast them. After my crucible in the trailer was over, good things started coming my way. And my cattle dog Aesop is the coolest friend in the world.
Two o’clock. The psychosis has departed to leave me reflective and a little sad. I feel like the lyric to a 1995 King Crimson song, “One Time.” It basically wishes for a one time reprieve from everything that is bad in life and hopes for an open hand. I like the song just for its honest expression of depression. If it weren’t a progressive rock tune, it’d be the blues. Now I wonder concerning the relationship between depression and the more severe mental illnesses. It seems to me that our natural state is to be happy, or anyway, happiness is our duty to society. Perhaps the farthest thing removed from joy is schizophrenia, and yet I never did anything to deserve it. Genetics is genetics. How amazing it would be if biology could be entirely psychologized. If the physics could be reduced to a state of behavior, an attitude of mind— to a verb rather than a noun, it would revolutionize the field of behavioral health. And this may be the trend anyway. On the other hand, could any schizophrenic person ever function without medication? Imagine finding a way to modify gene expressions just by altering the behavior. What we call “spiritual” could be the underpinning for mood, and in turn, mood could give rise to material reality as we know it. Then the songs we play and sing actually form moods into concrete existence. Therefore, depressing songs like “One Time” may someday be eliminated as unhealthy and counterproductive… Just thinking aloud…
No one in my family does much thinking. I get a strange sense that Polly is hiding something from me. She doesn’t care now about alcohol abuse. The whole family shuns me— so what made L— drive by my house one day in October?… It seems like an accident that we started talking again. Polly may regret it too. I just scheduled the ride to my Monday appointment. And I thought of how my family is too proud to accept help from government services; but not me. I don’t share their redneck pride. I don’t understand it. When people need assistance, they need it. Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness, but my family will never acknowledge it. The best thing I ever did was to disown them. The sun has come out for a moment; good to know it’s still there. Tim told me that K— isn’t close to his family either. Tim himself is divided from his family over politics. I told him that my family has no curiosity for bigger things. He said that was a shame… One thing I can say is that I enjoy interaction with people, especially when they are intelligent. The exchange of ideas stimulates my brain and motivates me. The rest of the family is apathetic about what makes life interesting. It’s like they’re not even alive, let alone joyful. How could I possibly cut myself down to their level? Life has loveliness to sell! The world is a big place, and often wonderful. How can anyone be so bovine, so boring; so disinterested in new ideas? So totally unintelligent? Life is not about chains; life is about freedom and happiness… Ranging through the boxes of my stuff, I found my copy of The World as Will and Representation, a book I needed while I was in the trailer. I think I will start reading it now, bearing Moby Dick in mind. There are many books I’d like to read all at once; digest them all and have instant enlightenment. But there’s still time to go over them one by one…
Quarter of seven. Life is good tonight. I’m in the house with Aesop. We’re sitting on the floor in the carpeted bedroom. The space heater keeps it reasonably warm. It took me three hours to move my stuff out of the trailer. I left a mess, but I’m tired and frankly sick of being jerked around. F—s Insurance has been awful for these eight months. Let them try to make trouble for me! I have witnesses to what I’ve been through. Roger and Diana across the street saw the whole spectacle. And of course Polly has seen the shoddy work on the inside. I hope Suzanne emails soon… She did, and loved my speech, which I copied to her. By the way, Pastor said he was quite overwhelmed by the special presentation for Barb and himself. We kept the secret very well… Now, Aesop is glued up against my side. Maybe in the early morning I’ll take a shower, now that it’s operational. It’s a good karma night, hopefully a herald of better days ahead.