Friendly Counsel

And it’s quite a nice one. I just made a second run to the salon and store, gabbing with Kim and then picking out a huge cookie for Aesop that got some attention from Deb and Cathy. Of course I also bought a Coke. This morning with Gloria went really well. We drove to Springfield to recycle again, but I gave all the money to her for doing my laundry. The amount she asked was equal to the value of the bottles, just a flukey coincidence unless it was a Jungian phenomenon. You never know.

I think I know what you mean about the situation with blogging, though I’m curious what the other blogger wrote that made your heart sink. There are some days when I can offer pearls on my domain but still nobody cares. I get no likes or comments at all except from Liz and maybe one more person. Yet it doesn’t bug me too much. I think I’m getting used to rejection. I’m learning to feel satisfied just reading on my own and writing in my journal— and to you every day. Further, I seem to be accepting that fame and immortality will never happen to me, whatever my mother dreamed for me. I doubt if I’ll be the next Edgar Allan Poe or Jack London, or whoever Mom admired. I believe a lot of being famous is being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people, and having a shrewd business sense. You also need to be tough, maybe even unscrupulous to some extent. It’s probably true that nice people finish last. Those who have a genuine sense of morals and what’s right have a slimmer chance of success. In sum, the ones who make it big time are usually jerks. I’m thinking particularly of the guy who led the disco band, but it applies to other careers as well.

Right now, it’s enough for me to live in comfort and security with a certain feeling of contentment. I can hardly believe the way good things are falling in my lap since this year began. I don’t feel especially oppressed or anything for having my diagnosis. It’s kind of like plucking dollars off of trees, a life of the Golden Age as Hesiod tells it, or like the Garden of Eden: prelapsarian existence, before Adam and Eve had to work for their living. Maybe I should feel guilty or ashamed for my idleness, but somehow I circumvent feeling lousy about myself. Family dynamics are almost telepathic, with a certain subliminal language; but it’s a language I don’t use anymore. Now I don’t give a damn what they think of me. And with my free time I can express myself however I want. Perhaps when I’m gone, a kind soul will save my notebooks and preserve them.

Did you know that Emily Dickinson became famous only posthumously?

It may seem like a waste of time and effort, but I hope you keep writing even if it’s just for yourself. If you don’t try at all, then your chances of success really are zero.

I guess it’s a question of why you write, or why anyone writes. Are we looking for immortality or what? Do we need self empowerment?

I only write because it’s a natural function for me. I once had a dream that I was a speech writer for Donald Trump! It gave me all kinds of privileges, yet he was a very dangerous man to work for… Just a dream, as I said.

Maybe it’s just a matter of sheer faith in what you do. “Have faith in you and the things you do / You won’t go wrong / Oh no, this is our family jewel.” Sister Sledge.

Sermon to the Living

Quarter of ten.

I’ve gotten back some of my confidence and motivation since yesterday. It only took actually doing something: working up my nerve and getting out of the house to do something different. I’d been stuck in a bad cycle, never doing anything for me, and beating myself up. It’s okay to have some fun and forget about the pandemic. Without pleasure and happiness, life is for nothing. Be selfish for a change and spread a little happiness around you. I disregard what St Paul said about self regard; Plato’s position on this is more useful. It’s important to respect yourself, for if you don’t, then it’s a recipe for depression and ill health. So, yesterday I indulged in a little fun, and the sky didn’t fall. It’s a mistake to think that our duty is to feel depressed. The very opposite is true to keep us sane and healthy… It’s a beautiful sunny morning in October. The leaves on the trees are changing, and today I’m living in the here and now, with some anticipation of the future. However, the past is not a bucket of ashes, because our past achievements give us confidence to achieve even more good things. It’s a series of ups and downs with no finish line.

Ten thirty five. It is possible to be selfish and generous simultaneously. Being selfish doesn’t necessarily mean hoarding or thieving, coveting, or whatever. It means being prudent and using your own judgment. You take care of your own needs first, and then help others to their particular happiness. Trying to be selfless is really to be soulless, and a soulless person is no use to anybody. And everyone’s happiness is something different and peculiar to them. So, a collective eudaemonia makes no sense. “One law for the lion and ox is oppression.” 

What Is Selfish?

Five thirty. I took the plunge and ordered the bass I wanted! And the guilt and fear were all my responsibility. I overcame those feelings and did what I wanted to do.

Ten thirty five. I’ve been lying in bed torturing myself with thoughts of egoism versus altruism, and now I finally understand why. It’s because I went through the same thing three years ago when I was first getting sober and the medication hadn’t taken effect yet. Today has been like a flashback to that time. Maybe the weather contributed. It was sunny and warm all day. Another item is that my big Plato book arrived this afternoon, as iconic as the philosopher himself… I took the plunge on the G&L bass— so now will I go to hell for selfishness? For this was the delusion I had in 2018. Some accident of the atmosphere brought it back. It was also in April of that year when I had a big breakthrough against the same delusion and started making music again in spite of my illness. It was kind of like Huckleberry Finn taking his chances with hellfire for doing what he wanted to do. Yet isn’t it right to do what is pure and authentic of yourself?

Eleven thirty. It started with a red SX bass I bought in November 2016. It arrived damaged in shipping and then it just sat in a chair for a year and a half. One day in April I worked up the courage and motivation to pick it up and play it, defying my dog who hated music. This went okay, and a few days later I had my neighbor drive me to Guitar Center to get the instrument repaired. The victory of this was that I’d really wanted to play my new bass, and now I was finally doing it. The take home lesson is that people don’t know what they’re talking about when they condemn egoism. Of course you have to do some things out of selfishness. It’s impossible not to. And to this day I disagree strongly with Twelve Step programs for their overemphasis on abnegation.