Birthday!

Eight o’clock.

Here and there I have a bleed through of psychosis, saying that this is the end of the world, and by a freak of metaphysics, a god will emerge from the machine. Psychosis is radical emotionalism; if it feels true, then it must be true. It’s important to remain evidence based when I’m tempted to exaggerate the reality. My mind wonders why the crap all hits the fan in September. And more, what will future Septembers be like? It feels cold in here, and the smoke outside is still very dense. Linn County is getting ready to evacuate.

Nine o’clock. I just paid my garbage disposal bill online. For many years I paid over the phone, but now I’m all set up. It seems like an investment in the future. I don’t feel so pessimistic now about current events. Perhaps it’s just chance that everything has happened at once. I should remember all the distortions of cognitive therapy and apply them. Pastor wrote something in the Daily Devotions that I was inclined to take personally. But the truth may be that he wasn’t thinking of me at all. Consistently, time after time my assumptions have been proven wrong since Monday. When I catch myself in a thinking error, I feel a little silly afterwards. I wonder how many of us are making the same mistakes?… Aesop gets breakfast in a few minutes, and then I’ll get ready to go to the store. Or maybe I’ll delay it for a while. I can relax and have a burrito. It’s only 50 degrees outside. Wait until it warms up.

Ten forty. I saw Karen, Angela, and then Michelle. I made an appointment for a haircut next Tuesday at ten o’clock. Karen was happy about that. The countertop at the store is definitely red. Michelle was there by herself. It just feels different from the old glass counter in the middle of the floor. Less personal somehow, more official or conventional, like all other convenience stores. Almost more regimented. I like the way it frees up space on the floor, though. It’s just another sign that we’re saying goodbye to the past. A man walked into the store with 36 empty Rolling Rock cans as I was leaving. This reminds me that my “birthday” is tomorrow: three years sober. It’s been a roller coaster, and not only for me. The world was rather crazy this year, and last year my house caught fire. Regardless, I didn’t drink. I rolled along with the punches. Some days I feel absolutely terrible, and seldom do I feel really good. But always I am free to choose my mood. I can put on different music when I feel down. And it’s good to be a member of the human race. 

Stay Positive

Seven ten.

The first thing I’m going to do is buy a Coke and some food. Today should be approached from the precept of freedom and responsibility, and it is so if you think so. I’m slightly tempted to just give up like everybody else; and maybe I will. But if I do resign, then I’ll be angry afterwards. Therefore, obey your own feelings and be true to yourself.

Eight o’clock. Vicki appreciated me this morning… I won’t let the despair of others drag me down today. The reality we live in is the one that we make. I just unsubscribed from a blog the hopelessness of which was affecting me. I was sorry to have to do it, but now I think I’ll be glad I did. The day is beautiful and pregnant with promise if you look for it. Positive change starts with just one person, who then communicates optimism to a few people, and by exponents it spreads. Certainly if I can deal with schizophrenia, then other people can handle their depression. Everyone is responsible for their feelings, and to some extent, the feelings of others. Some people might argue with me on this point, and that’s fine with me. Meanwhile I’m going to spread as much happiness as I can and forget the despair I’ve seen. I believe that happiness is our natural state, so I’m beginning with myself.

A Great Start

Nine ten.

Well imagine that: my Bishop book got forwarded to me safe and sound! Now I’m going to have two copies. The volume is a beauty, of course. I was a little stunned when I found it in my mailbox, like an act of God or something. I should give this book a special place in my library after so much ado about it. And then I went to the market for canned dog food and food for me and a cranberry ginger ale. Also the weather took a merciful turn for the cooler this morning. There’s a cloud cover, and the forecast calls for a high of 80 degrees. Michelle at the store was very nice as always. A man walked in the door without a mask and Michelle reminded him. As an aside to me she said that some people do that on purpose. Elsewhere, Aesop’s intelligence continues to stagger me sometimes. We communicate with each other very well. He makes me feel like Dr Doolittle. Today is getting off to a great start and the song in my head is “Here Comes the Sun.”

Friday Forenoon

Eleven thirty. I keep thinking this is Saturday. I slept in for a couple of hours, then fed the dog and went to the store. I ran into Lisa from the salon. Apparently she’s working but not doing hair. She added that her uncle just died the other day. I still think people are magnifying the negative things that happen. Surely not everything is going wrong. This is where cognitive therapy can be useful, if people are receptive to learning something new. I see many of us letting one or two negative events color everything else dark, but that’s not realistic. Rather than wallowing in depression we ought to balance the bad perceptions with positive ones. Try to be optimistic on a daily basis. The end of the world hasn’t happened yet, so don’t expect it now. Having a positive attitude can turn the ship around, while moaning merely assists the storm. I don’t want to see us all shipwrecked. I guess that’s why I kick against the prevailing sentiment of doom and gloom. Despair avails us nothing. We owe ourselves an outlook of hope.

Queens of Etiquette / Optimism

Guilt is an expendable emotion; it serves no purpose whatsoever. There is no particular way a person is supposed to be. Who says we have to look a certain way or act a certain way, etc etc? I don’t care to be conscientious like some people. Take it or leave it. There’s no such thing as perfect. There is no king of public opinion, or if so, then who is it? Martha Stewart was put in jail, wasn’t she? Kathie Lee Gifford and her sweatshops. Regis Philbin. I don’t watch tv, so I don’t even know who is popular anymore, and care less about it. Kill your tv! Live your life your own way. Oprah Winfrey sucks. My sister thought Oprah should run for President. I can’t imagine much worse… They’re making good progress on the fence. Damien is using a nail gun and they move right along.

Three o’clock. I took the Snapples out to them. I’ve been forgetting the idea of faith that all shall be well. In other words, optimism. In uncertain times, this is indispensable. The fence has needed replacing for a couple of years, and now I can do it. In fact, it’s almost done. All I did was not to drink alcohol anymore, and good things came to me… Aesop’s treats are coming from Amazon tomorrow. Filet mignon flavor soft chews. I hope he likes them… I noticed that the paranoia is a lot better than before. Most people don’t have bad intentions toward others. Only if they use drugs or have a mental health issue. Or if they are driven by the big bucks… Now the guys are building the gate. The day has turned out kind of good. I’ll be glad to have the job finished. And then I can listen to the other disc of Permanent Waves.

Indeterminism; or, Optimism

Interesting, but sometimes I can clearly see into the workings of my preconscious mind, thoughts and impulses just on the threshold of consciousness. But my conscious mind can choose its actions regardless. Maybe it’s just the wisdom of experience that makes it all so clear. This noon hour at the store, I walked right past the beer cooler and was fully aware of my thoughts about why I wasn’t going to drink. Mostly it’s a surefire one way ticket to death for me. Occasionally there is Coca-Cola if I want a sugary treat. It’s like the rare Bubble Yum or Doritos my mom used to buy me when I was an early teen. Root beer floats sometimes.

Four twenty. My Led Zeppelin CD arrived in the mail just now. I’ll probably listen to it after dark tonight. It occurs to me to wonder why I live like a wanton child rather than a responsible adult. Maybe because I could never get away with anything when I was young? When Mom died I found the opportunity to be the bad boy I’d never been in youth. Dunno. There are many ways of looking at it. I’d still like to be a wanton in some ways, but I doubt if it will happen. On the other hand, self sacrifice will never appeal to me. I believe the Id will always want more and more until I die. The Platonic beast can be tamed but not entirely snuffed. Or maybe this is only a theory? What if it merely looks good on paper 📝? If so, then it can be scratched out and written down a different way. The computer program can be scrapped and redone from nothing. This would be the view of John Locke. Often philosophy has an advantage over psychology. With philosophy, there’s always a drawing board to return to. Individual people can literally posit their identity— just like reprogramming a computer. What do we need dunces like Freud for?

Love of Learning

Seven thirty.

Again I feel myself missing my old secular friends. I dreamed about my psychiatrist this morning and I wonder if I should go back to him. Sometimes I wish I could simply move to the UK someplace. A place that resembles my lost past. I hadn’t realized what a minority I am in this country until I put myself in treatment in 2003. The ignorance I encountered there was staggering. People hated school and learning, preferring church by far. I still don’t get that. Having an education is a wonderful thing, so liberating and broadening. It is not indoctrination, but just the opposite: an open door to endless other open doors, with the light of learning growing ever brighter. It’s a Promethean life, the gift of fire and the light of reason from the gods. Aren’t we stupid to refuse such a gift? If one lifetime is all we get, then shouldn’t we learn about it all we can? Instead of working at meaningless jobs and procreating like rabbits, we could be wise and on a par with the gods. Who would stop us from building a Tower of Babel this time? We could make a skyscraper to the moon with impunity. Life would be like ancient Athens once again, but with the advantage of technology. All this your life has to offer: why spit in its face? Why choose the Dark Ages over the glittering high rises of enlightenment? You can be the poorest pauper on the street and at the same time possess priceless wisdom. Learning is not a means to an end, but an end in itself.

Mephisto

Quarter after one. Like yesterday, I’m not very inclined to play my bass guitar. Ready to hand I’ve got so many wonderful books and music CDs. I feel like feeding my mind with cerebral ambrosia. The Woolf was a lot of fun. To bask in beauty is a great thing. The reading over the weekend diverted my thoughts from my family— which is beyond hope. In the back of my mind is the memory of where I was last year: a trailer parked in the driveway. Amazing that Aesop and I survived it. What the situation demanded was the faith that all should be well; that there was a plan and purpose to events. I told myself that the remodeled house was a reward from God for my recovery. And so I clung to this idea all through the spring and summer… until my sister intruded last October, making cynical remarks about the construction job. My religious sister! She must’ve thought I was naive or simpleminded. If I was, then it still got us through those six months. Now I can step back and reinterpret exactly what happened. I read in a book that “cynicism is the only sin,” and it is a characteristic of Mephistopheles. Polly came along with her attitude and messed up what had been working for me. Ever since October my rosy glasses have been colored black. She set a bad example of a Christian… unless we call it disillusionment. Now I don’t know… The quote I remembered is from the introduction to the Penguin edition of Faust Part One. I just now pulled it out… I feel my optimism coming back, pandemic or no. The springtime is unstoppable, the life irrepressible, and the joy unsurpassable.

Utopian Notes

Three thirty.

Aesop wanted to get up, so I complied. He had a drink of his water. A moment ago we both heard a strange sound outside. Aesop barked. It hasn’t been repeated. Now there is absolute silence except for the whir of an electric clock that used to belong to my mother. It keeps fairly accurate time. The furnace just kicked on, adding to the chorus.

I consider my life at this point and wonder why the particular circumstances of today. Why these friends, out of everyone I’ve ever known in my life? Was there a meaningful pattern guiding my steps? For some reason, I could never stop drinking under the care of Dr T. Only after I wandered away to the Lutheran church did the drinking cease.

The darkness and light of human nature depend on where you focus, and among whom. Heaven on earth is just as possible as the hell we give each other. The choice is up to us. I believed this idea even three years ago, when I was still drinking. Utopia begins as a state of mind. It grows into a reality when enough people share the same vision.

Humanity seems to be at a juncture where we can rearrange our thinking, and thereby, our reality.

Something and Nothing

Four thirty five. I did a little bit of book shelving while hearing the sound of Jo jamming up the street. I’m not tempted to go play because Jo isn’t serious about music. He drinks and smokes weed while practicing. Late last night I found my readers of Derrida and Foucault and peered into the first. I could make only a little sense of the writing, but it falls under the category of philology. I got a feeling of there being no difference between being and non being in Derrida, of a present absence and an absent presence, and all of it in the interstices, the spaces between words and lines. It seems to me like the ultimate nihilism, reducing all something to nothing. He makes private thinking seem dependent on signs, but he says that thinking in solitude is impossible. It was Paul Bowles’ character Port Moresby who said that the difference between something and nothing is nothing. To me, this is sheer blasphemy, and I pick up the same attitude from Derrida; also from Sartre, and before him, Mallarme. How can something be nothing and vice versa? It is like the concept of black light, or black sunlight. The idea of being from non being, or from nothingness, strikes me as abominable because it goes against Christian theology. There’s supposed to be a Light of the world, and the Light is Christ, and it is a positive something, not nothing. It is affirmation not negation, a powerful yes declaration… Jo’s little jam is still going on, as it sometimes does on Sundays. Is the universe a friendly place? Einstein raises the question, but hasn’t the answer. I had a friend once who liked Paul Bowles and was drawn to the darker nuances of music. His concept of God was a single being with both light and dark modes along a continuum. It was his AA God— and I couldn’t agree with it. God to me was all light, and the darkness was the devil. The two were not continuous, but dichotomous and separate. My idea was essentially Christian, and perhaps for that reason my friend and I broke it off. Nor did I join AA years later, but a Christian church, and it appears to be working for me.