Five thirty five.
I had an unexpected dream just now: I was a “jumper,” just like the ones in Hollywood cop movies. I got myself into an elevator shaft and climbed it to the top, where I was just about to throw myself down when a rescue team cut through from the outside with a saw or blaster. After I got out, my parents took me and my nephew to dinner in a convertible. The nephew let my dad know how much he hated him, and he just smiled and drove on. He was probably stinking drunk.
By now the snow on the ground has melted nearly away, with little shreds of it left on people’s yards and roofs. I donned slip on shoes rather than the lace up running shoes with better treads and made my daily trip to the market. There’s not very much to report about my experience this time. In general I’ve been speculating on whether I can discard my superstition about astrology, and what will be the outcome of doing this. It’s like the choice between fate and free will— even like the old song by Rush. I think the zodiac is just a human fiction, something for us to wrap our lives around to give them sense and meaning. But when it is ruled out, the meaning is up to you to provide. The character of Edmund in King Lear is right about the “excellent foppery of the world,” even though you’re not supposed to like him. Shakespeare and Milton both subscribed to astrology, but this doesn’t mean that we should. They lived four hundred years ago, so what did they know? This year I will think differently about my birthday, and try not to refer to my horoscope and wax mystical on my destiny. I’m not a teleological thinker; life has no predetermined goal for every person to fulfill. Is this heresy or is it good rational sense? The power to make decisions resides with us. This is where it belongs, and not in the lap of the gods or the influence of the planets, moon, and sun. This sets the tone for my 55th birthday and the whole subsequent year.
Meeting with Pastor at nine o’clock. I’ve gone to the market already, when the clouds in the south were like so many blueberries. The sun also comes up farther to the south than in the summer. I have no idea what I’m going to say to Pastor this morning. I’ll just wing it when I get there and hope for the best.
Near the noon hour.
I stayed for worship after my meeting with Pastor. His best argument to me was to remind me of Christian love, which is about self sacrifice and valuing others more than yourself. With a lot of reasoning you’ll never arrive at love because love is non rational, he said. This gives me food for thought for a while. Love is a mysterious thing that will remain a mystery, and that is all I can say.
Quarter after nine at night.
My imagination fleshed out the rest of Pastor’s argument with my rationalism. His counter thrust to me was non rational love, just as Meg Murray used against the oversized brain called “IT” to free her brother Charles Wallace from its telepathic grip in A Wrinkle in Time. I forget what happened to the gigantic brain after that; it might have simply expired. But Charles Wallace was restored to his normal self.
I’ve been to the store, but still am having a hard time waking up. Also I feel anxious and worried about a few things. I think I’ll cancel the physical therapy appointment for tomorrow. I know I’m not up for it.
Quarter after ten. My mind is more on the present moment today. A car whizzed by with the stereo playing “Highway to Hell.” I’ve heard that a lot recently. Seems like a popular choice on the radio right now. All of us together on the road to perdition, like the motley and representative crew of the Pequod in the Herman Melville book. It’s also like the Company of the Ring, nine assorted people to go up against the evil Sauron in Mordor… Here come the garbage trucks, recycling first. Michelle told me of her troubles earlier this morning, and afterwards I wondered why some people have such bad luck. Theodicy: why do bad things happen to good people? How do we account for evil in the world? Maybe it’s easier to say things just happen without discriminating good and bad. Still, it’s tempting to ask why is this happening to me. I used to entertain the belief in karma, but this drove me nearly crazy with paranoia. Ultimately it’s not a rational perspective on life’s events. So much of theology is like that, complicating things unnecessarily. And AC/DC should know what to do with their stupid song.
Eleven o five. It looks like the sun might break through the morning overcast: the voice of reason roaring like a lion. I get sick of the primordial slime of superstition and Dark Age thinking. But I know I’ll always be a minority.
The sun is just beginning to light up the east. It’s the first day of fall. Aesop has been sick with a stomach bug lately; not sure what to do about it. Life has been very unkind to us since the spring and summer, unless I just expect too much from it. But if I decided to be disobedient then I’d only drink beer again. I never resented a Democratic government until now. It seems to rule us with an iron hand. And I don’t enjoy going to church at all anymore because of the politics… For a change I’m going to Grocery Outlet this morning. Feelings are interesting things, and who knows where they come from? I think you have to trust them in the end, and the dreams that embody them. It’s okay to surrender to your feelings and do as they say. They give us strength and courage to carry out our projects…
Quarter of eight. It takes me twenty minutes to walk a mile, and that’s the distance to Grocery Outlet. I suppose I’ll get ready to go now.
Nine twenty five. I was there and back again. Bought Aesop some decent food for breakfast for the next week. And I got some deli stuff for me. I didn’t buy anything to drink this time, so I’m missing my caffeine. On my walk, I thought vaguely about my confusion with reason and feeling, and should I trust emotions to guide me? But I know that this approach has never worked for me before, and my best bet is to go with science. I think it’s just curiosity that lures me towards the Jungian ideas like a Siren song. My ship would be dashed on the rocks if I dared it again… It was kind of a nice walk to River Road past the high school, where I saw a lot of teenagers getting ready for class. School is a much different experience from church. The more I think on it the more I really resent the church for laying down the law rather than liberating our minds for whatever comes. The latter is an exciting prospect indeed.
Quarter of three in the morning.
I can remember the first times when I experienced transcendence of mundane reality, or getting my landing gear off the ground. It was when I heard lectures on Kantian idealism in a philosophy survey course. I somehow escaped my temporal existence and sort of floated around as a severed rational head. But this mental state was not really rational, although it was very cerebral. I haven’t looked through Kant’s books in quite a while, but the effect would be intoxicating for me, and that’s the whole point of some philosophy; therefore is it really true? It joins you with the Ideal, or a certain state of mind suggesting an otherworld of perfect bliss, but I was told by a coworker that it was irresponsible and I should grow out of it. I was only 21 at the time. Now I think I can judge for myself how irresponsible I was to indulge in castles in the air. And would anybody else judge me for having found the secret to Eldorado?
Quarter of seven.
I just saw Bonnie Rose leave in her black truck to go someplace. I was thinking of how American life is an Inquisition about people’s faith in God. I don’t think I’ll ever believe in God, and the whole question is really silly.
So I trotted off to the market with an open mind. The air was very smoky again. When I got there, the store was quite busy and more coed than usual. The same blond girl was ahead of me in line, probably in cowboy boots because she looked taller this time. She sprinkled black pepper on her biscuits and gravy and carried out two orders of them, balanced precariously in one hand. Michelle had her hands full today, toggling between both registers to speed up the process of checkout… As I was walking home, my mind juggled the past and the present, and the past seemed attractive, though I knew it was only a phantom. Suddenly I can hear “Schooldays” by Gentle Giant, a really cool little prog song with a lot of vibraphone. From where do people get the call to be musicians? I guess it’s genetics, and this is the basis for everything we call fate or destiny: it’s all biological. I can see my first grade classroom in my mind, what in reality would be impossible because the old school was razed to the ground. In our memory, things subsist in a sort of half world, neither real nor entirely bogus. Substance use can make imagination bigger than reality, and so can psychosis. And maybe it’s all relative anyway. In Tibetan tradition, Milarepa slew a giant scorpion the size of a car, yet we don’t say he was crazy. He saw demons with big saucer eyes all around him, and people only shrug.
Nine o’clock. I think all knowledge is very difficult to sort out. Should a person weed out emotional reasoning for understanding the world? And without logic, people are totally sunk. It’s a cliche to say there needs to be a balance of reason and feeling, but the cliche is true.
Well now I’m getting lonely for someone to talk to. I had my lunch already because I was ravenous as a side effect of my medication. I’m also kind of dopey from the same thing. Maybe I’ll make another trip to the store just to see some people today. “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do…” There’s nothing on my slate really until church on Sunday. Some people charge their battery by spending time alone, but I’m just the opposite. It might be okay to read a book, however. Goethe sounds good right now. Maybe it will inspire me with a new idea.
Four fifty. I went to see Karen about getting a haircut tomorrow morning. She caught me up on what has been going on in her world. It sounds like some of her former employees have stabbed her in the back and been dishonest with her. I don’t want to be involved in any cat fights among these people; I only wanted to get a haircut. The stories I’m hearing are all very irrational and even crazy, and they would be avoidable if those people used more sense… I guess that’s why I usually stay away from the salon these days. I really don’t like insanity. Perhaps this makes me a walking oxymoron, to be a schizophrenic person with a great deal of reason and sense. It is a paradox. But it’s sad to see others who are less fortunate struggling to keep afloat on tides of lunacy and heartbreak, clinging to a spiritual life preserver that is not watertight, repeating the same mistakes and bad decisions time and again.
Six thirty. At the store, the radio was playing “One,” the same song I quoted earlier today, as by a fluke of meaningful coincidence; but which was it, fluky or meaningful? Maybe it depends on what you pay attention to. Human experience is full of maybes, but also little miracles if you are watchful for them. Someday this house of cards may collapse to expose the City of God that dwells in and behind it, of which we’d only caught glimpses in the cracks before.
Seven twenty five.
After four doses of the Risperdal, so far so good, except last night I had some difficulty breathing in bed. But as I lay there, eventually I recalled a recent dream of my first bass guitar, and then melatonin kicked in and I fell asleep. Late last night I made a few pages of notes in my journal, with the rediscovery that I am far more Platonic than I am Christian, as I’ve known from twenty five years back. Probably this is due to my education. Nowhere else than a university will they teach you to think for yourself. Of course it depends on how you use college. It never occurred to me that I was responsible for my student career, and that my actions were chosen deliberately by me. Do I know only what my school wanted me to know? Yet I still don’t feel like a cog in the machine or a yes man to readymade beliefs. Sitting through a sermon nowadays can make me wiggle a little in discomfort. When an argument is bad, my reflex is to raise objections and questions. Not exactly like Christian faith, which is blind and credulous.
Eight thirty. Reason is a power of eyesight and insight, a bright light that shines a path through your life. Feed it on good things and it will grow to be a great lighthouse in the storm of BS… It is still early in the morning, the sun not yet up very high. I’ve got no agenda for today, which suits me just fine.
Aesop’s canned food has been delivered to the front porch, so now I have to go out and get it amid a shit storm of his barking. I really dread doing this. Sometimes dogs are irrational and cause a problem for people… I did it. And then I opened the package for a look at the product. It appears to be pretty good, with lamb and garden vegetables. But the real test is how Aesop likes it… Yesterday my sister used an expression that I had to look up to be sure of the meaning. She said some people cut their own “swathe” in their life. I could relate to this from a song by Talk Talk: “Funny how I plowed myself an avenue.” Both figures of speech refer to independence and self reliance, doing things your own way, which is mostly what I did, starting at least five years ago. But really it’s been going on for much longer. I’ve noticed that my sister doesn’t try to give me advice anymore. If I had allowed her, she would have dominated my life forever, and that simply doesn’t work. Everybody is different, a difference that must be respected. I didn’t want to be my sister’s clone. Everyone has a sense of logic, an inherent rational faculty for making judgments and choices appropriate to himself. As easy as chocolate or vanilla— or strawberry. All the brainwashing in the world shouldn’t make any difference. You are what you are.
Quarter of five.
I feel liberated from a friendship that had become rather toxic to me. All of my energy was sealed up in my head for a long time, but now I feel more whole, reunited with my body. I can’t be a Puritan like some people, and that’s okay for them. It’s like the character St John in Jane Eyre, sort of; a Christian stoic with no real feeling, no passion. Jane finally exclaims to him, “I scorn your love!” All his feeling was in his head, his intellect, his reason. And at last she finds her way back to Rochester, who loves her from the heart and soul. A very valuable lesson from Charlotte Bronte and literature, with very real applications… It is still dark outside, yet I’m ready to start my day. I have an appointment by Zoom at nine o’clock with Rebecca. This might be kind of fun. I also need to get ahold of Darcy regarding my Vraylar. The first light is appearing above the trees and the store opens at six o’clock. A new hope kindles in my heart.