Downer Post

Four twenty five.

I’m eating my heart out to the tune of “Knowing When to Leave” by Burt Bacharach. The music destroys me, particularly the interlude following the main theme, where the strings are deep and rich and the women’s voices have replaced the trumpet… My self analyses have been hit and miss lately, but as autumn deepens, so does my perception of the truth… She didn’t want to be around longer when my dog died ten years ago and she cried for two days. But she hung on as a friend in spite of herself several more years… Why did it have to be so complicated? And yet, in 2013 when I was abandoned by my family, she was the only friend I had other than the booze. She must’ve seen this quite clearly. I was probably never lower than in January 2016, when I began to realize what was really going on. She was doing all of this against her inclination. I had been utterly deserted. And then the booze turned against me.

Firewall

Ten ten.

They say it’ll be a mild day. I did an all nighter with a two liter of Coke but I feel okay, my mood good. Some days it’s hard to reach people, and others I get too much of them. Today is the first kind of day. I have an appointment tomorrow morning with Todd at the agency. But today there’s this big void to fill, a whole long day ahead of me. I did something rather capricious after eight o’clock: I tried emailing an old friend who lives abroad and who quit responding to my messages five years ago. I should know better. Now it’s going to make me kind of mad and frustrated if she doesn’t reply. I told her I’d been sober nearly five years, but I don’t think that’s what she wants to hear. If anything, maybe she’d prefer me as a drunk person, though that doesn’t make much sense. It’s difficult to read people sometimes. I believe there’s a lack of trust on her side. I might as well just drop it. What made me email her in the first place? This is a more pertinent question than why she doesn’t reply. Usually I sort of forget that I’m a guy and not just a neutral person. I have a guy’s motives. I think it’s something to do with the time of year, the August summertime, that triggers my impulses which remember old times. I believe I’ve been a complete fool since I got up this morning. And there’s a lot to be said for self control and rational restraint. The pain of desire is as bad as the pain of fear— depending on your values. I think James Joyce says something quite different from the Greeks of antiquity: more like Nietzsche. Still, one ought to beware of Dionysian passion and madness. This might be a long day. Would it be kinder of my friend to reply or ignore me? 

Leaves that Fall

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. 

Truth

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.

Adler

Wee hours.

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. 

Quiet

Nine thirty.

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. 

Lonely Hunting

Nine o’clock.

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. 

Power

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. 

Rochester

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. 

Friends Old and New

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.