The Kookaburra

Six o’clock.

I’m just up out of bed, and as I gain consciousness, the old kookaburra song comes to mind. It’s something my third grade class used to sing in rounds, led by Miss Otzby the cafeteria coach, way back in 1975. It was the first school year that I felt more or less human after a bad experience up until then. A teacher can make or break you, and Mrs Baggerman was the dawn after a very dark night. She was a Texas sexagenarian, very strict and not popular with the rowdy boys in class, but she liked me because I was quiet. I remember staying in from recess by choice to do SRA readings. My comprehension grew exponentially as I became rather introverted but not unhappy that way. Of course, one of the high points of that year was the Bicentennial, and we took a field trip to see the Freedom Train when it came through. It was just a mobile museum of Americana. I had a little crush on a Native girl a year older than I, named Robin. And I also remember how nice to me Stephanie was. And Karen, whose family was Jewish, so she stayed home for our Christmas party. And the popularity of Freddie, a Black kid, and Fritz. Everyone was so diverse yet we got along fine together. It makes you wonder why adults do not.

Americans

My journal is a cool place for figuring things out. This past evening I wrote an idea dealing with my solution to alcoholism using the church. Basically I said that the ritual of worship, repeated again and again, was a form of self hypnosis, and it worked to stop my addiction. As such, it was a psychological thing and not necessarily theological in a literal way. The details of course are debatable, but even Jung couldn’t make the jump from psychology to metaphysics per se. Then towards the end, when Pastor talked of demonic possession as the cause of mental illness, I knew it was hyperbolic and I had to get out of there. I found his attitude offensive and really not very kind to people with schizophrenia; in fact he was ignorant of the truth about psychiatry.
Oh well, my explanation usually falls on deaf ears, and I’m getting sick of it. Suffice it that the agency is a much safer place for me now than the church, and that poor Pastor is full of beans, with his head buried in the nineteenth century, totally disregarding advances made after the end of World War 2.
Americans always subordinate science to religious visions that make no sense, so I think a good question to ask is, Why? If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, but the Jesus thing doesn’t function for us anymore. We have decades to go to catch up to Europe, although the case has been the same even when Henry James lived and wrote at the turn of the twentieth century. It’s a very sad situation for the United States, yet not even a writer like James could remedy it, so why do I bother?

To Look for America

Quarter of noon.

I feel quite out of place and disoriented since Sunday. Today it rains and shines by turns, as moody as I am and just as indecisive. I guess the word for the way I feel is “homeless,” but in a spiritual sense. Somehow it feels kind of good to be rootless for a while, like taking a motorcycle tour of North America, only inside myself. Suddenly I remember the scene in Easy Rider where Fonda and Hopper ride their choppers into the Deep South to the tune of “If 6 Was 9.” I saw that film during the Bush era, when I was working. It happened to be in March. The world had lost its mind, I always thought, and it got worse with a holy war on multiple fronts. Finding rational friends was very hard to do in a world steeped in superstition. I heard a true story of a family whose car ran out of gas. To make the car run, they actually prayed over the empty gas tank. Needless to say, it didn’t work… And yet people reiterate that we need a spiritual release, maybe just for our mental wellness. I admit I don’t have the answers, but too much of anything is bad for you. Perhaps “home” is located in between science and theology. Aesop wants his doggie pepperoni, and that’s all he needs to know.

Quarter after one. The day’s adventure is done. I rode to Springfield for a lab and then went to the market like every morning. I’m inclined to make a little beauty to please somebody; it’s been some time since I gave back to the community. If I could manage a poem or something else good, and give to the church. Maybe volunteer this Friday. 

Demons

Quarter of noon.

The inside of my house is a disorganized mess, sort of like my mind. But I’ve taken the first dose of Cymbalta for my depression and we’ll see how it goes from here. The sun is out and the sky is partly cloudy right now. I didn’t care for my cabbie on my trip to the agency, but it was good to see Teri and the people at the pharmacy. I’ve been thinking: no matter what I try, nothing could have evaded the onset of schizophrenia when I was 24 years old. It’s a biological disorder, a hereditary thing that can be treated but not cured.

I hear Roger’s truck chugging back up the street. Maybe there’s a reason why I don’t value the tidiness of my house. It doesn’t seem like my own house anyway. But I don’t think second guessing myself does any good. Objectively viewed, my place is just a dirty house, the home of a schizophrenic person. Subjectively might be a different situation but I think I’ve exhausted the possibilities for psychotherapy, and religion and morality make me sick at this stage. I’m still a bit interested in Kierkegaard; but is there really a deity to fear and go on my knees to? How can anyone know for sure? 

A former pastor once told me that I was possessed by demons and needed a deliverance; but I think probably he was the one who needed help with his mental health. The world is a mixed up place full of contradiction from person to person. Never let them tell you that you’re possessed by the devil or anything so utterly off the wall. Superstition is an American thing. The United States really needs to grow up and give up its teddy bears. 

Two Traditions

Eight twenty five.

I’ll leave for the store at nine o’clock this morning. It’s been drizzling overnight, though I didn’t hear a thing. I should probably read Montaigne and Proust, whose pioneering examples I seem to be following in a modest way. The daylight is so colorless and void; I kind of miss the snow we got after Christmas, the way it lit up everything. As it is now, there’s hardly a sign of life. But I hear a mourning dove somewhere nearby, cooing softly like a diurnal owl. It’s a good day to stay in and read a book, but I still have to go to market for my foodstuffs…

Nine thirty. As I came upon the crosswalk worksite I felt afraid, so I asked myself why. I didn’t have a satisfactory answer, though I still went forward and dealt with the obstacle in my way. It was a relief to get to the parking lot and go inside Community Market, where Cathy was just stocking the deli cooler with sandwiches and salads. She and Heather were very nice to me; in fact, I can’t complain about anyone’s behavior today. I sometimes catch myself being paranoid, so then I run back to my rationality, hoping that other people have their own sense of reason and logic. Without this, civilization is impossible; the American Dream is unattainable. Some believe that the Bible is our Constitution, but our founders were Enlightenment thinkers, actually closer to science than religion. And then I remember the poetry of Anne Bradstreet, a colonial Puritan who deferred all personal happiness to the hereafter, while earthly life was to be restrained and pious. She reputedly was the first American poet. So, what is the spirit of America after all? It depends on whom you ask and what tradition they follow. America is the mirror of its people. 

Everything Is Fifty Percent

Eight o’clock in the morning.

I got up when it was black as ink outside with scattered showers. The sky glowed blue as I headed out to the market. When I reached the parking lot I saw Cathy’s SUV in its usual space and no sign of Michelle. I asked about her at the counter but got no information. At this point it looks as if she were not coming back to work at all, which would be a shame. Michelle is so nice and sympathetic to me, although her life was getting rather complicated.

The winter storms that hit the Northwest seem to be moving eastward over the continent, and the weather here is more temperate now. It’s very odd in America how people must be pigeonholed regarding their religious beliefs. I guess I’m an atheist if it comes to that, but I’d prefer to have my mind more open. Why is curiosity discouraged in the States? Or is it just Oregon that is so narrow minded except on college campuses? Frankly I don’t care what Alan Watts had to say about anything, and Carl Jung is dated. No one talks about Aaron Beck anymore; we’re shifting away from realism and back to the primordial slime all over again. I don’t understand it. I think it’s important to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes on the path. Miracles don’t exist, in my opinion; everything can be explained rationally, and Darwin probably had the right idea. America doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up.

I just learned that a friend from church has tested positive for Covid. The virus I’ve got flows and ebbs in the course of a day. No one really knows anything. Consult the oracular Eight ball 🎱 for answers. It’ll be right half of the time. 

Prejudice

Quarter after five.

I think I’ll get myself a Coke at the store today because everyone deserves to splurge a little no matter what time of year it is. And Aesop will get more of his favorite chicken jerky. It’s a strange state of affairs when no one gets any pleasure from life whatsoever. I used to be a rabid alcoholic but now it’s been over four years without booze. I think that life is totally worth living without alcohol if you make your life a project to pursue freedom and happiness.

It’s another two hours until the dawn, but Michelle opens the market at six o’clock every weekday. The forecast last night said rain for today, yet so far it’s not happening. Something keeps delaying it, but it’s superstitious to say a “finger of God” is responsible. I got quite annoyed at the naturalist writer Loren Eiseley for spoiling the picture of natural history with his precepts of God. According to him, Darwin’s natural selection is not enough to explain how the human brain came to be what it is. Also he said that it takes more than a few elements interacting together to make something like life. He suggested something miraculous was involved. I just wonder if he was really a serious scientist. What does Richard Dawkins have to say about his ideas?

The debate on God in the United States will probably go on forever or until we are no longer a country. Religion dies hard, just as capitalism does. And another thing that never goes away is racism… 

On the Spot

This morning at eight o’clock there was a dense fog shrouding the neighborhood, making everything look surreal and kind of spooky. Also it was very cold outside. Heather wore a black T-shirt with an H on the chest to advertise the house she used to live in. She’s a recovered meth addict and goes to AA meetings. During the week she has a job as a hair stylist. At around nine, Tim texted me to say he’d pick me up for church at nine fifty. We actually arrived at almost ten o’clock, but we weren’t late for service. I listened to the sermon and it sounded like something I could identify with. Maybe it hit home a little too much, because I felt pretty guilty after I got home. I thought about how I wasn’t doing enough for the church— not even tithing anymore. I can’t afford it right now. The best I can do is to show up on Sundays and take in the sermon, then think it over afterwards. In a few words, Pastor preached that we are not in control of our lives, though we like to feel autonomous and to make our own decisions. I wonder if he was saying that people don’t have free will? But usually, Lutherans believe that God gives us free will to act as we wish, and we can choose to do the right thing or something else. Oh well. This is a sermon that will sit with me for a long time, and for a long time I will struggle with it. Basically it was about surrender to Jesus Christ and letting him take care of things. Well, I know I don’t agree with his point of view. Hopefully I won’t resent it too much.

Tomorrow morning I have a virtual meeting with Rebecca. Tuesday morning I have a face to face visit with Misty. And then Wednesday at noon I’ll get a turkey dinner delivered to my house from the agency. On the holiday itself I’m not doing anything.

I think I need a little break from WordPress. The fact is that I don’t have any more ideas to put out there, and I don’t know what other people are thinking lately, except for one blogger who started out a born again Christian five years ago and now rejects religion wholesale. Well whatever, I don’t want to be a part of this dialogue anymore. People can believe in God or not; it doesn’t matter to me now. America is a peculiar place for putting you on the spot concerning your religious beliefs. In the UK it isn’t like that at all. Nobody really cares what you believe. I really wish the United States could get it together with the rest of the world and give up some of its old prejudices. But that’s just me, I guess.

Dare to Know

Quarter after seven.

During my sleep, I felt terrible all night long, so I’d like to know why. Is it because I got the vaccine last spring? The sky is like the skin of a nectarine mixed with gray. I feel very impatient with the whole pandemic situation, but I think Pastor Dan makes a bad thing even worse. He has let the idea of leadership go to his head. An article said that half of the people fear Covid, and the other half fear being controlled. I guess I’m in the second category. For this reason, my mind is full of doubts and fears concerning having a personal care attendant. Maybe this is what troubles my sleep. I treasure my independence and I hate feeling dominated by other people. It seems contradictory to hire a person to be your boss.

Eight thirty. Two people have advised me to just try the PCA thing and if it doesn’t work out, then I can say I gave it a fair chance. I was just outdoors: the clouds were scalloped against the blue, but otherwise, the scene looked pretty much the same as every day. I’ve left my shopping bag at my feet just now, and my Hot Pocket might thaw out before I can put it in the freezer. I’m being lazy, but I’m also tired and depressed. Hand in hand with this go feelings of resentment and a little anger because I feel so helpless and powerless right now. Maybe it’s simply the rock and roll impulse in me that makes me rebellious and difficult. Then again, our founders never knew about rock music, yet they were full of the Enlightenment spirit of liberty and happiness and the audacity to know. And they were not at all superstitious. Every individual ought to be like Benjamin Franklin and harness the lightning, but we seem to have forgotten how. It goes far beyond technology. It is the science of our souls.