Sidewalk Smart

Eight twenty.

I stayed in bed a little longer than usual but I couldn’t sleep. In fact I didn’t sleep all night, and I was thinking about how I lack libido since I quit drinking. Is this a typical side effect of sobriety? I often feel like an empty shell with nothing like an unconscious mind. It could be my age… Aesop had his breakfast but I haven’t gone to the store yet. I can agree with the cab driver who said, “My shit giver is broke.” If people don’t like it, I suppose they can throw stones at you, though it’s unlikely. This cabbie was a bass player and a Harley rider. Once he rode up to the Cooler on his motorcycle to see his girlfriend and she wasn’t happy about that. When he was young, he and a friend lived out of their cars and went to high school. He made it sound as if there were two paths in life: the religious and the experienced, and his friend went with religion. It’s a bit like a Hermann Hesse book titled Narcissus and Goldmund. But only a bit… Aesop is staring at me to inquire when I’m going to market for his treats. Let’s wait till it gets a little warmer this morning. 


Amateur Inquirer

Ten o’clock. The thinking I do is more logical now, though still scatterbrained and pellmell. Joseph Campbell didn’t come to conclusions at all because his arguments were not logical in the first place. As for metaphysics, this is rooted in the structure of language, and that’s what misguides people. Just because a statement seems to be true by subsisting in language, is it true in reality? This is the problem that people like Carnap sought to solve.

Eleven o’clock. The goal of it all is to reveal the truth, but I’m not a very good philosopher; not systematic enough, and I lack the credentials for it. But in my amateur way I keep trying. Even if I stumbled upon a great epiphany, there would still be the chores to do, though I avoid these as much as possible. Probably I’m better off to just play my bass and leave the intellectual stuff alone, yet I’m hooked on inquiry into life’s mysteries. Whatever I say will say more about me than about the truth. Oscar Wilde wrote that all art is useless, and Sartre said that man is a useless passion. Life may be absurd; perhaps this is the starting point, so Camus was always right, and our job is to create a meaningful existence. Faulkner was there ahead of him, pointing out how we’re lost without stories, the activity of imagination. Thus it’s already a given that life is pointless. It remains for people to make life worth living. A year ago I started rereading The Sound and the Fury; that’s another book I ought to finish, but the plot is quite outrageous and unpleasant. If I can get through the Jason section, the rest should go a bit easier. In my random rambling way I’ll get it done. 

Dream Weaver

Wee hours. The antipsychotic I take has quelled my paranoia. I can chat with my sister without feeling threatened or devoured. My perspective on my family is more realistic now than before I started the Vraylar. I don’t make second guesses about what they are thinking. This used to be a terrible habit. And the change is all inside of me. Everyone else is the same as they always were. This is the sanest and soberest I’ve ever been. Also I’ve stopped the gabapentin. Now I won’t have to worry about withdrawals from it… Psychosis is really just imagination run amok. I think I’d rather be realistic than deluded. Schizophrenia is bad enough on its own, but alcohol makes it a lot worse. My brother used to weave daydreams about people’s behavior. He could talk about it for hours and hours. A lot of it was inaccurate. It was as if he needed to tell stories about people to make sense of life for himself. But these stories were lies, and he lived a lie… Is it better to be realistic or to tell stories about life? I guess it depends on the storyteller. And how psychotic is it to weave a web of fantasies? Depends on the dreamer.

Stories / Breakdown

Nine o’clock.

The pandemic makes me feel terribly frustrated. Where is everybody? There’s no one to talk to. Suzanne hasn’t emailed yet this morning… The Zoom meeting at ten o’clock may or may not work out. I wish I knew what Suzanne is up to… Pastor is leaning on me for moral support this morning. He’s never done a Zoom meeting before. Some people would have a hard time with the technology. I will call in about five minutes early and see what happens.

Eleven o’clock. The meeting went ok. Then I went and bought a Coke and something to eat. The weather is beautiful and sunny, not indicative of any disaster. The staff at the market, it occurred to me, aren’t very nice sometimes. I don’t like going there on Sundays because of one guy in particular. His friends often drop in to visit him, and they’re all pretty shady. Belinda hired him before she sold the business. She was never a very good judge of character in the guys. The way she suddenly sold the market was odd, and it left one of her sons in a bind. His position had been secure until then. Now he has to scramble between two jobs, one of them working for his brother. He seems to be just another subordinate employee with his mother out of the picture. His attitude has changed to docile and subservient from his former lording it over people. Why did Belinda do that to him? But I feel bad for a lot of the people who work at the market. And maybe they feel bad for me too.

Noon hour. Sheryl was another person who wasn’t particularly nice. Sometimes I feel thankful for the people who are nice. What if everybody were as mean as Sheryl? There wouldn’t be much to live for. Pastor Dan showed me his new tattoo yesterday. It has his dad’s fingerprint with the caption, Tell the stories. Indeed, stories are didactic and moralizing, and in that respect they are true. Facts are only one kind of truth. My brother didn’t see the use in stories. He is a scientist with a blind spot for human and social things. I think it’s good to know the stories and repeat them. Circulate them and keep them going. Suddenly, I appreciate the beautiful spring weather as I recall being in sixth grade. It was a time when the theme was The Lord of the Rings, a story we all came to know.

Five thirty. I tracked my iPad down to Sacramento. They still say it will arrive Tuesday. James and I used to argue about the benefit of stories. He thought they were useless, and only mathematics was true. Just like my brother. I would still argue that storytelling is quintessential to human life. The tales we have and continue to tell sustain our souls. They come from a deep place in the human psyche. The factual accuracy is not what matters, but rather the moral purpose, the lesson. What happens when a culture throws out its stories? It seems to me that it becomes degenerate and inhuman. Consider the way Sheryl treats people, then look at my friends in church. Think of Ancient Greece, a civilization that fell after the people stopped believing their stories… Only seven of us showed up for the Zoom worship. The rest didn’t bother to call in.

Six thirty. I emailed Lisa regarding the worship this morning. Suzanne is taking her time about contacting me. It’s been a heck of a week, especially since Wednesday. Almost a complete communication breakdown…