Persistence

Three thirty in the morning.

My old dollar store readers are about to break, so I ordered five new pairs on Amazon, arriving Thursday. I heard it raining out a few minutes ago. Thank goodness for freedom. I remember how S— L— used Tru Thought leaflets to brainwash people that altruism is the only acceptable way to live. This literature was also used on convicted criminals, I discovered by researching it online fifteen years ago. But I never identified myself as a criminal simply for having addiction issues. The real crime was the indoctrination at the treatment facility. I also did myself a disservice to ever enroll in treatment. Many people will try to tell you what is what, but what do they know? S— L— counselors drove vintage sports cars. One of them had a ‘67 Chevelle in maroon with black stripes. No one ever said anything about this extravagance, but to me it was a ridiculous contradiction. Suffice it to say that there are much better ways to invest your money than in treatment programs. You can start by building your own home library, or downloading free ebooks from Project Gutenberg. I even heard of a rebellious teenage girl who thwarted her oppressive father by sneaking 150 classic books onto her Nintendo. He never suspected a thing. He imagined himself a working class hero who despised books or anything intellectual. Video games were okay, books not okay for his kids. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

Awareness

Noon thirty. I just finished reading Oedipus the King. It makes me wonder about compliance with gods and higher powers, and how human pride can interfere with justice. And again I consider the example of Mr T—, this unaccountable “narcissist.” Maybe life is supposed to have a certain flow to it, in conformity with the will of the gods, proportionate and rational. This would be the Greek way. Any excess, anything immoderate, is a pollution that throws off the balance. Pastor is planning a big Christmas whingding to usher out this “crazy” year, but I don’t think this is the answer. I’m quite a dissident to this idea. Rather than participate in church, I’d like to stay home and keep quiet until January.

Four thirty in the morning. I was just considering the implications of my post, “Where Have All the Schizos Gone?” A cabbie declared to me that the incumbent is “mentally ill,” and I replied that he may have a personality disorder. If this is true, then the time is propitious to take psychiatry seriously again, but do it with compassion and expertise. I also maintain that religion is ineffectual in treating people with mental illness, so that science in general needs a revival for the common good. Personally, I’m sick of the Church. People scratch their heads and call the incumbent “crazy,” but the clinical truth will be more specific and more fair. I’m no diagnostician myself, but I think Mr T— can be helped. 

A Significant Sight

Quarter of eight.

We’re still a ways from a decision on the election. It’s a limbo until then. But the sun is out for now, after a night of constant rain. I have to call and schedule my rides for next week.

Near nine o’clock. I saw something significant at the store: three Mexican guys walked in, on their way to work. These people have been scared over the past year, and made themselves scarce in public. I used to see none of them for months on end in my stomping grounds, but now, finally, there were a few. It’s hard to stand by, wait, and watch while the scene figures itself out. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is on the radio a lot lately. I would like to add a line from Rush: “Those who know what’s best for us / Must rise and save us from ourselves.” But I guess it’s enough to be the masters of our personal fates. Justice is a long time coming. Hopefully it arrives before the deadline… There’s a knocking on my roof: probably a squirrel, or maybe a jay. But no, it just scampered overhead, little hands drumming. Now I’ve got Tears for Fears music stuck in my head. Physical therapy is today. I’m ready to defend myself against criticism if needed. To my knowledge, I’m doing the best I can. If I could do better, then wouldn’t I do it? Who would knowingly choose wrong? Are morals absolute, anyway? Is it all a game of Simon Says?… Suddenly it’s very quiet in here. 

“If I Had a Hammer”

I’ll be getting physical therapy twice a week from this Monday till the 9th of December. The receptionist called me this morning and we scheduled all these appointments in advance. I plan on walking to each appointment, weather permitting, since it’s only 1.3 miles away from home. And it may be rather a pleasant walk in the afternoon down Silver Lane to River Road and beyond Division Avenue. The leaves on the trees will be turning and dropping all this autumn, and hopefully the sights will restore my confidence that all is well with Nature. By the way, I looked up a weather prediction for 2021 in Oregon: typical La Niña, and we may get an early winter, and wetter than usual, which is okay since the drought we suffered this summer and into the fall. Another good reason to walk to physical therapy is because it discourages pollution from fuel emissions. Pedestrian power doesn’t contribute to climate change. The weather today was really beautiful in the afternoon, though I didn’t go outside and take advantage of it. The color of the sunlight was a deep and mellow orange, the sky cerulean as it ought to be. I know that the wildfires continue to burn, but they seem to be more under control by now.

I keep saying this, but being sober in 2020 is a very strange experience. I think most of my family has deserted me, and Polly is just testing the waters with me until further notice. I don’t really care, just on principle, because she and her whole family are terribly racist and show no signs of wanting to change. On Columbus Day, a citizen vandalized a public statue of Christopher Columbus and Polly didn’t understand why— being ignorant of the facts regarding him and Cortes, the way they treated the Natives, and how the way history is taught today is vastly different from what she learned in the 1950s. The truth about Columbus is that he and his crew wiped out six million Arawak Indians by bringing Caucasian diseases, plus he forced them into slave labor and often mutilated them as punishment for disobedience— all for the sake of discovering the gold that he was sure existed in the Americas. This is the truth! Cortes and Columbus were no kind of heroes at all. Only from a white supremacy perspective did they pave the way for civilization. But the new perspective on history is very difficult for older people to grasp, just because old dogs can’t learn new tricks as a general rule. I feel sorry for Polly, but her son who is my age has no excuse for his ridiculous bigotry. In their family, people who graduated from college are seen as the enemy. Their suspicion of new ideas is very conservative, but the genesis of conservative politics is, in my opinion, ignorance and fear of the unknown. I think Edmund Burke might make a fascinating study for me. He was a renowned conservative Englishman who reacted against the French Revolution, seeing the bloody and inevitable consequences and concluding that ideas are dangerous. Does that seem relevant to our time? I wonder if it makes me a political radical, along with all the other protesters for the sake of people of color… Whatever, I don’t have much sympathy for bigots. If I must defect from Polly’s clan, then so be it. I can’t reverse the knowledge that I have, nor can I teach those who don’t want to learn. To them, like to Burke, ideas really are dangerous, so maybe they are better off left alone.

Sorry this turned into a little rant on racism. It’s a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people. I hope you weren’t offended by it. But it’s something I feel very strongly about, and damn the torpedoes if people can’t handle it. Many truths are inconvenient and untimely, but on the contrary, they arise when the need is the greatest.

Justice: a Letter

I’ve had yet another lousy day, but right now I feel okay. When is this summer ever going to end? I was worried that my sobriety was compromised by my addiction to gabapentin, so I emailed Pastor this afternoon about it. He called an AA leader he knows who says that gabapentin is fine as long as I don’t take more than is prescribed. Pastor called me and let me know. This made me feel a lot better. Isn’t this summer the pits? What more could go wrong? The worst part of it is the fact that we’re all impotent to do anything— except pray, as if that were any consolation. That’s about as useless as our vote. Not even the weather cooperates with the people’s interest. What’s the most responsible thing you and I can do? We want to stand on a mountaintop and scream for justice, but the best we can do is lie down in the middle of the street in protest for Black Lives Matter. It isn’t as though what is right and wrong were not obvious to everyone. We all feel it in our hearts. But for some reason, injustice tyrannizes over the whole world. Why??? Perhaps life would be too easy if justice were simply handed to us on a silver platter. Maybe the pits of life make the occasional triumphs of justice that much sweeter. The best thing I can do, however small it seems, is to stay sober and take the blows on the chin every worthless day.

The Heart’s Justice

Toward midnight. My head has been stuck too much in the 19th Century. Cognitive behavioral therapy has dispensed with Christian morality. Of course, the knowledge of CBT doesn’t come free. I didn’t have to pay for it out of pocket, but somebody had to, and it was taxpayers. The old knowledge that is available free is the Church, and this may always be the case. It was so 150 years ago, and it is true today. Who am I to deem myself better than the mass of miserable people? Instead of AA, I opted for therapy for a year and a half. I wasn’t responsible for a penny of it, but somebody footed the bill. My conscience is a bit like Pip in Great Expectations. It turns out that a convict paid my way, and it was the American working class. Was I clever to take a free ride on the system, or was I unscrupulous and shameless? If I stole an education from taxpayers, then how can I pay it back? The key to the whole scenario is this thing called conscience, which is a defining characteristic of human beings. CBT denies that absolute justice exists, saying that there’s only fairness of a situation to oneself. It says that justice is relative and dependent on your point of view. But what does my heart declare on the matter? How do I defend myself from my heart— or is it better to obey it?

Justice Is Action

One o’clock. I feel too lazy to go play my guitar. The motivation is lacking. I called Polly at nine thirty and we had a decent conversation. I didn’t take exception to much that she said. She accused the students on spring break in Florida of selfishness, predictably. I didn’t argue. That’s just a Polly thing to say. She hates college because she didn’t go. I let her know that I tried to call Jeff last week. She only said that she hopes he is okay… Talking with my sister is always a lot different from that with my brother. But neither one is very easy anymore. All three of us are very different. I can almost remember going shopping with my grandmother once or twice. She didn’t understand why Mom bought me records to listen to. What I begged for I usually got. Mom and I used to watch Tom Jones on tv down in her bedroom.

Two o’clock. My imagination is bankrupt. I can think of nothing to write about. My mind is circumscribed by the readers I write for. Otherwise, I would write about things that interest me alone. I feel the absence of alcohol keenly today. I’d like to get drunk or do something else selfish and fun. Somebody knocked over my recycling roll can before this morning. Probably it was a homeless person. I didn’t feel anger or anything other than puzzlement. How did the can get overturned? And like a lazy man, I left it there, lying on its side. A UPS truck just dropped off a package across the street. My new book is coming by mail tomorrow afternoon, unless it’s early… I’m beginning to understand what people mean with the accusation of selfishness. Anything that distracts you from the real world of people and things could be labeled selfish. Altruism is having your eyes wide open. It is seeing what is right. Justice is when you act according with what you see.