Seven fifty five.
I read the daily email from the church pastor; evidently their little world hasn’t changed in my absence. I wonder if I can be called a “lapsed Lutheran,” or was I ever a Lutheran at all? I sort of dropped myself on their doorstep almost five years ago, desperate from my addiction to alcohol. Today, the idea of drinking doesn’t even sound good except when I feel like disappearing down a snake hole. And that still happens sometimes. Facing the world sober can be burdensome. I sympathize with people who need to escape from reality or enhance it to sweeten it up. I guess my weakness growing up was my broken brain. Fortunately for me there’s Vraylar for the delusions and hallucinations. By now I’ve given up the classic theories of what causes schizophrenia. It is not caused by repressed urges or by demonic possession; not even by suppressed anger at unfairness, or whatever else they can dream up for an explanation. Schizophrenia is just a biological disease passed down by genetics… It’s an overcast morning with a bit of wind. Moving about the house a while ago, I recalled the fresh autumn days before the pandemic, when I would go to church and everything was peachy. Now I ponder why most situations with people turn sour. Nothing is ever permanent, nor was meant to be.
I’ve been thinking about church and Easter, etc and how lonely I feel lately, like a kind of outsider from the human race. Until yesterday I didn’t realize that I miss my friends in church. And yet I see that there are so many ways of dividing people against each other; by their politics, religion, and other personal beliefs. I feel pulled in different directions at once, and the fact of being sober seems to make it more difficult. I know however that drinking is even more problematic than staying sober. It’s very hard to be a highly sensitive and perceptive individual, seeing all these conflicts and contradictions, the sheer confusion of everything. How to make it all compatible with itself; how to unify it all in harmony and peace? And then I remember the writings of Montaigne, who let the contradictions dangle unresolved. They could be allowed to coexist. I knew a friend in reality whose approach was very similar: she hated conflict and any kind of extremism. Her father and her oldest sister got into the worst fights with each other, starting with a disagreement and ending in violence. Thus, maybe my logic is overrated, my tendency towards black and white judgments, trying to nail everything down like Aristotle or another philosopher. Maybe better to say that’s life and let the loose ends stay that way.
I haven’t read very much Montaigne. I ought to look into it. I think that something about my method is not working very well, and Pastor was right about leaving things gray in order to have more friends and get along with more people. The relentless quest for the truth can be quite limiting for your social life. The truth may well be that there is no truth.
During the afternoon, something awakened me to the validity of other psychoanalytic theories than simply Freud, which I’d lived by ever since junior high school, namely Alfred Adler. He reminds us that we need security and confidence to carry out our lives, a skill to be proud of and do competently, etc. We need self esteem and a little bit of pride in ourselves. I’ve known some people who take this to the extreme of invalidating other people from their own feelings of inferiority, jealousy, or resentment. Perhaps even some therapists have done this to their clients. I feel I was shipwrecked by one such person four years ago, and the trauma still messes with me in the springtime. I never should have left my psychiatrist in the first place. Human relationships can be very delicate things. There’s always someone with a pellet gun to shoot down your balloon in order for themselves to rise. We say the good die young and nice guys finish last. But sometimes you have to protect yourself from predators.
I slept very poorly and today it’s raining a light rain. I took my umbrella and hiked off to the store as always. For now the rain has ceased. I never did get any reading done yesterday but Russell still sounds like a good choice. It’s good to feel so levelheaded, even on a rainy day, so typical of Oregon. I see a squirrel climbing the magnolia tree out back. Ten years ago I knew a friend living in Scotland who liked analytic philosophy because of its proximity to science. I believe she was smarter than I was, though toward the end of our friendship she told me she preferred silence to conversation. Was that a form of nihilism? I wish now that we could have worked it out. In King Lear, the Fool says it’s better to know more than you show; but I think he was ironic about that. After knowing me, my friend went back to being her old self, and today I have no clue what her life is like. Hopefully she took something of myself with her that she can use. And from her I got Russell and Carnap— and some great Beatles music; and much else that is even more priceless.
The daylight is bright like springtime in spite of the occasional rain. It’s a day to be quiet and speculative.
I just remembered an old acquaintance of mine who had trouble making friends when he got to be older. Now I compare myself to him and see some similarities. I’m 55 years old and beginning to look my age. My little trip to Barnes & Noble felt like a failure, and it’s easy to get depressed over that sort of thing. A person gets frustrated and a little angry when there’s a roadblock to friendships. I noticed how tiny the philosophy section was at the bookstore, with only one shelf dedicated to atheism and agnosticism, whereas the religion shelves sprawled over a good portion of the floor. Nobody knew me, so I wound up a wallflower sitting alone in the cafe. But this doesn’t mean I’ll give up on my project… I think I understand my dog’s behavior better now than before. His brain is wired for duty instead of his desires. He believes it’s his job to protect me and guard the fort. When I tell him “you have to,” he does what I command… I saw two house sparrows make overtures to mating outside my back door, but there was a third bird that came between them, then they all flew away… My friend Bill finally did find a companion, but since then we lost contact. I kind of miss the old guy today.
Quarter of ten at night.
During this afternoon I practiced the bass guitar as I gazed out my gray window, while my blue dog waited for me out in the hall. I got a good tone from my white Fender. I’ve decided I prefer the feel of flat wound strings, plus I like their peculiar thunking attack. Very percussive and deep sounding. Now I just need a drummer to jam with, and this might be in the works. And something to stimulate my musical imagination. All creativity begins with mimesis, the imitation of something else, until you discover a voice of your own… The future is an odd thing, and “deep inside, the day’s controlling you and me.” If I can just accept this theme of sociology and let it bear me along towards the unknown, then my life might go more smoothly. Being a creative person is important to me, and all poets and musicians are really prophets. I can’t let myself be subordinate to a church pastor’s vision after this. He’s just another man. A mere mortal like everybody else…
Eleven o’clock. Every relationship seems like a struggle for power by one person over the other or a whole group. The world is full of little Hitlers. The trick is not to become one yourself.
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.
Ten ten. I just feel kind of empty today and want something to fill the void. It might be a good day to read some Edgar Allan Poe again. I don’t remember what happens at the end of “Descent into the Maelstrom.” Some of his tales were rather silly and not very clever… I look out the back door and halfway expect to see a raccoon in my magnolia tree. Hallucinations come unexpectedly, but usually when I’m under stress. Heidi is supposed to call me today at two o’clock. Suddenly the gray weather sort of gets me down. I slept fair last night, though I don’t recall any dreams I had. It isn’t like how I slept when I was thirty years old. I guess I’m missing my parents this morning, especially from the times when I played music professionally. They made my life at home very comfortable, and even kept the fridge stocked with beer. My friends wanted me to fly the nest and be independent, so I felt myself being pulled in two directions. I don’t know how my parents would have gotten along together if I had left home. They wouldn’t have been very happy; rather, lonely and depressed because they had no friends of their own. I did the best I could with the situation.
Eleven o’clock. It’s okay to be honest with myself. I really do feel hollow and meaningless in the absence of my parents, and I also miss my brother a little, although he has changed, and actually he never has cared for me very much. Probably the best thing I have going for me is the church, where all of my friends are. And the word really is “friend.” A therapist once suggested to me that my relationship with my parents was more of a friendship than family, and I have to agree.
Eight twenty five.
The sky is cloudy and gray to match my mood. I think the world is still trying to understand itself, but while it’s doing that, I’m going to live my life. Relationships with people are often difficult. They go more easily when we know what we’re responsible for. Sometimes I have to stop and analyze the thoughts that cause my distress. It doesn’t pay to own other people’s feelings, or to be an emotional caretaker. And yet it’s hard to keep up boundaries with others. One has to be quite self contained, and maybe a little bit cold, to remain intact and not enmeshed with friends. I’ve never done anything like this in my sobriety, so I’m just learning.
I feed Aesop at nine o’clock. He gets Hill’s Science Diet chicken and vegetable for senior dogs. The package arrived in the mail Saturday afternoon, just as I was stepping out the front door on my way to practice. Today, after Aesop’s breakfast, I’ll go get foodstuffs at the market like I do every day. My mind begins to play “Jumbo’s Lullaby” by Debussy, a little piano piece from Children’s Corner. It’s about a circus elephant falling asleep and having an animal dream. It is my favorite work by this composer, and it always makes me emotional… Now Aesop has been fed, so I guess it’s time for my trip to the store.
Quarter after eight. Sheryl from church texted me a while ago and said it would be nice to see me for the Easter service. So I replied with my reason for not coming to church as often anymore. Interesting; she said she misses my singing voice. And I do have some fond memories of singing with our choir a couple of years ago. The people were so nice and we had a lot of fun together. The only relationship that went kind of sour was the one with Pastor himself, and that’s a regrettable thing for me and the others… I am still very excited about my band. I thought our rehearsal yesterday was the best one ever so far. It seems to me that the three of us feel more comfortable with each other now; we’re becoming better friends, so the music flows a bit more easily than before… It’s another partly sunny morning. The sunlight splashes down and dapples the magnolia tree in my backyard. About two weeks ago I spotted a raccoon jumping into the same tree and settling there in the lower limbs. Even at the time, I thought maybe I was hallucinating; it was so surreal and bizarre to see. Since then I haven’t seen the raccoon again, thus maybe I really was deluded. “Cold hearted orb that rules the night / Removes the colors from our sight / Red is gray and yellow white / But we decide which is right / And which is an illusion?”
Sheryl just texted me back; she’d assumed that my absence was due to Covid. But no, it was the sermon on demonic possession that alienated me from church, at least temporarily. I’m going to stay home today except for my daily trip to the market on Maxwell Road. I had an exciting day yesterday and need a rest today.
Ten o’clock. As with most Easter Sundays, the neighborhood has fallen very silent, and the silence is rather disturbing to me. It is the silence of the tomb, of death, and maybe of intellectual poverty. It is the quiet of oppression, perhaps, when nobody dares to speak their mind. My closest neighbors behave very strangely, not very amiably with each other or with me, keeping to themselves and basically being quite self centered. I find this is true of many conservatives: they’re paranoid and care only about what is theirs. They scoff at people who don’t have a home or a job; people who are unfortunate. They figure that it’s tough luck for them; we got ours, so screw the people who have nothing. Such a selfish attitude, and essentially asocial. How can my neighbors be happy with such narrow views and feelings? They cloister themselves in their homes and watch tv all day… The book of Plato I ordered was probably delivered to the wrong address, but do you think the erroneous recipient will bring the package to me? No one practices common courtesy around here. Every house is an island on my street, and finders keepers, losers weepers… I jumped to a conclusion. The computerized Amazon chat assistant said the book probably hasn’t arrived yet. But this is another example of the dehumanization of society. “It’s so hard to stay together / Passing through revolving doors / We need someone to talk to / And someone to sweep the floors.”