I tend to believe everything that (reasonable, sensible) religionists (e.g., Charles Stanley) preach when I can re-interpret their myths and symbols in modernist scientific and/or meta-scientific terms.
But when the crazy ones want to interpret the myths literally, I understand their lack of intelligence and/or sophistication. I know quite well how "God" tells people to do things; I don't have to be convinced.
I'm running down a long street, sort of like a highway, and I feel like I'm being chased, but no one is behind me. I come to a side street where people are hanging out. Although I feel threatened, I brave it out and approach them, because I think that among people I will be safe. They turn out to be really friendly and not at all threatening. They're standing around a burning barrel for the warmth and since I'm a bit cold, I get up closer. I look inside the barrel and see a small boy being burned alive, although he appears to be enjoying it.
There's a message here. I can feel it; but I'm not sure what it is. But there can't be too much doubt that the little boy is me.
I feel like I'm being criticized and ridiculed and even threatened with incarceration for being "different"; but I think that the elite get away with being "different" all the time: Joan Crawford, Michael Jackson, Leona Helmsley--oh, wait, she didn't quite get away with it; maybe this basic premise is wrong, maybe this is just another symptom of my paranoia. Anyway, I can always fall back on my standard paranoid projections that I know to be actual fact. [God once told me that paranoia is a proper response to a crazy reality; and this reality we share is a crazy one if ever there was one]:
The governmental-media conspiracy to disrupt my sensible and intelligent worldview is disconcerting. I have to check every single "fact" to ascertain if I am being misled. For example, there is no bird flu 'epidemic': are they doing this intentionally, to mislead, provoke, and/or manipulate, or are they simply ignorant? Very few people have had bird flu. And if the birds are experiencing a severe outbreak, it's called an epizootic. Epidemic is a word that applies only to human populations. It seems that the real problem, ignorance, is not an epidemic at all, but is rather endemic;
The president can now order the arrest and indefinite detention without trial of a citizen on mere suspicion of terrorist connections; the Supreme Court said so. Now all they have to do is accuse you and your life as you know it is history, whether you did anything or not. So let's start rounding up all those people who we suspect have ties to terrorism, and don't forget that weirdo down the street who won't talk to anybody and keeps to himself all the time. He's just got to be up to something. (Hey, wait a minute. That's me!);
If you're in jail (or presumably anywhere that provides you with a good
alibi) but you have information that may prevent a terrorist attack,
and you fail to provide prosecutors with that information, you may be
guilty of terrorist action and even treason yourself. This is the
lesson we learn from the Moussaoui trial:
You have the right not to incriminate yourself, but if you insist on
asserting that right, we're going to put you to death. But don't worry,
we'll do it nicely; we're not going to cut off your head in front of a
video camera or anything.
People find this kind of death so horrible that it disguises the fact that death is death, no matter how you cut it. Islamic terrorists who behead their victims do themselves a disservice. If they really want to drive home their point, they should kill their captives by lethal injection after a long and drawn out period of appellate judication. [We're so much more sophisticated than our enemies, aren't we? Yet, although they may not be capable of explaining to us exactly why we are just like them, they intuit it quite well. Instead of trying to figure out how to attack us in our own country, they should spend a whole lot more time learning how to penetrate our psychological defenses.]
These incidents and examples convince me that trying to interact with society is a dangerous business. So I conclude that people, society, should leave me alone when I want to be left alone, approach me when I want to be approached, and yet pay attention to me always if they are benign people, but ignore me completely if they have sinister and/or manipulative hearts (which government and corporate officials always do).
I got my monthly bank statement in the mail today and discovered that I was assessed a seven dollar service fee. This set me off. (This is the time of year when any excuse will serve to cause anxiety.) I want to be angry with someone and I fight the feeling all day long. Things, I want to think, are not going my way today--except that they are, except for that small extra expense. I want to rush up to the bank and get it taken care of, adjust my accounts so that it doesn't happen again; but it doesn't have to be done until the first of the month, when the next service fee will be assessed, so there's plenty of time.
I'm way over-reacting to such a little thing, especially when I know that it's my own fault, because last month I went up to the bank and rearranged the funds in my various accounts in order to take advantage of rising interest rates, and I forgot to take minimum balances into account. But that makes it even worse, that it's my own damn fault. I can't be mad at anyone but myself. I can't see how I can expect society to conform to me when I can't even conform to my own self.
When I used to be a "sociable" person who traveled occasionally on business and even more on short notice for recreational purposes, I always kept my bags packed and ready, containing underwear, socks, an extra set of necessary business items like pens, pencils, notebooks, a travel daytimer, etc., an extra set of personal items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.; and I had a short list of items that had to be packed, such as clothes that would wrinkle if left packed, etc.--everything I might need was at hand in case I had to take off on a moment's notice, so that I wouldn't experience too much stress or personal disruption. I was always ready to go.
This had been my orientation throughout my life, to be ready for anything. When I was young, I had all of my things organized in my room, all of everything I considered essential stored in such a way that it could be loaded up quickly and moved to a new location [you'd think that this psychology would be the result of an unstable childhood, but mine was definitely quite the opposite; maybe I was rebelling against the stasis] and I studied survival skills and developed a hierarchical theory of basic necessities (air, warmth, water, food, etc.) and emergency procedures to cover any natural and/or social contingency on up through what to do in case of a nuclear attack. And when I got a bit older, I began to practice my survival skills by going out into the wilderness and learning how to live off the land, developing all of the skills I read about and theorized as a kid.
I don't feel the need to act in these ways any more. My home and my savings and investments serve this security function now--and I rarely go anywhere any more, so I don't have to be already packed. But I miss that frame of mind, that attitude of preparedness. I don't have all that much to be prepared for these days. That's advancement, I guess. All of my preparation now is done mentally, or in writing. This is what writing does for me, among other therapies: it provides me security and acts as a buffer against the anxiety and paranoia.
I'm downtown in a highly stylized area of the city (sort of like being in a David Lynch film). I'm in one of the buildings for business purposes and after I'm done, I go outside and walk along the side of a highway, which runs right through the middle of the city as if it were a city street, like at the Point near the Gateway Towers. In fact, all of the city streets are highways of one sort or another, with overpasses and egress ramps leading to other highway-like streets, most with non-descript buildings lining them that have no store windows on the first level, unlike most conventional city buildings. I walk down an exit ramp onto one of the least highway-like streets, a kind of roadway along the river flats, except that there is no river (a combination of Penn Ave. and Ft. Duquesne Blvd). It's dark now, night has fallen, and up ahead of me I see several guys hanging around a sports car at the side of the road. I feel threatened and think to turn around (because there is no other way to go; to my right is a high concrete wall, above which is a railway, and there's nothing to the left across the street, as if it were in a fog of nowhere). And I can't go back because I'd be signaling that I'm afraid, and I don't want to be that kind of person, so I go on; and when I arrive near enough to see the car and its people, they're just ordinary kids hanging out. A bit farther ahead, I come up to an underpass, which I cut through, despite the fact that I feel like it might be a good place to be ambushed. I feel like I have to get back to the main section of the city where the streets are well lighted and I feel safe. When I come out of the underpass, I'm in an empty lot with a lot of people in the shadows and others huddled around barrel fires. I can see the city with its stark white bright lights in the distance across the huge vacancy. [logic break: simultaneous feeds]
I'm working in a grocery store, which turns out to be a department store and, at the same time, I'm in there shopping. I come out of the back, looking for the time clock so that I can punch out for the day (recurrent: in other grocery store dreams I forget to punch out and I wonder how they know how to pay me without asking me, although they always get it right, as if management knows exactly how long I worked, despite their apparent complete inattention to me). Several women take an interest in me. Cindy is one of them. I flirt with her for a while as she tries to get me to ask her out without actually coming right out and saying anything about it. I know this is what she's doing, but I refuse to ask her out unless she stops playing games and confronts me directly or, better yet, she asks me out. Other women are doing the same thing to me. Cindy finally breeches the taboo directly and suggests that we go out, and I almost agree, I'm on the verge of it, having been convinced, but just not quite ready to respond, when we are interrupted. This all takes place in the "back" of the store and, at the same time, the near (non-city) end of the vacant lot. I go out into the public part of the department store (which is also the lighted part of the city) and one of the salesgirls asks me out. I tell her I would, but I'm kind of already seeing someone. She's disappointed, and so am I; but I've already decided to go and find Cindy and agree to be her boyfriend. [logic break: third simultaneous feed.]
I'm inside a huge building that has nothing in it but dirt; but at the same time, it's not a building at all, but an alien-like landscape. [It's the same place as the back of the store(s) and the huge vacant lot in the other simultaneous feeds. Also, it's a recurrent place that has something to do, in other dreams, with "resin," a brown, slightly threatening (mildly toxic) substance that I identify as identical with or analogous to a resin that we used in our UV dryers where I used to work to filter the water-jacket water; but in that application, there was no toxicity at all, I don't believe; I could be wrong, but I think it was an absolutely benign substance; but maybe the toxicity is the ozone, which is what I'm assuming it filtered, as that's what's created when UV light reacts with water.] A few others and I are here either as explorers (as if of a foreign planet or a strange part of this one, perhaps in the mountains of Nepal or some other exotic far-away country) or as stranded experts from a different technological expedition. We make our way across the "terrain," which is like an unleveled dirt floor of a newly constructed and not yet finished, huge city building, with piles of dirt and rubble like hills and mountains; we're looking for either something or a way back home. Eventually we meet other stranded experts who are actually unknown members of our same extended expedition, although we don't know this at first and are suspicious of them; but eventually we learn to trust them and we join forces. Several of my teammates are women whom I find attractive and want to get to know better. I get close to one of them and we begin to get along; but we find our way out of the alien place and I lose track of her.
Women want to be approached, even as most of them remain cautious (the ones who are not are either naive, or guileless, and/or non-traditional and "sexually liberated"). They like to be hit on while they reserve their approval until they discover the true nature of the guy who would hook up with them. It's not only sound psychology, it's a biological imperative that functions to protect any possible future offspring. Nevertheless, despite their caution, they want to be hit on and flirted with. It verifies their sexual attractiveness.
And they want to experience their sexuality without necessarily going all the way, they want to feel sexual, to get close to a guy [or another woman, if they prefer; I don't want to seem biased here, although I'm really concerned at this point with heterosexual attraction], to touch him, to have him touch her with gentle caresses, to feel the nearness of his face to hers, without necessarily kissing him, not quite yet, to sense (as an unconscious motivation) his pheromones, just to be with him without having yet committed herself to him, which is why women like social situations where this kind of activity can go on where no actual sexual interaction can take place.
Traditional men intuitively know these things about what women want, and they act accordingly, often unconsciously. [Intuition, especially in men, functions best unconsciously.] But postmodern women have learned, much to their instinctual chagrin, that they can gain personal power by convincing men that hitting on them in this traditional way is not so nice a way to treat a lady. Postmodern men take the hint to heart and comply, leaving their balls at home, or in the hands of the woman who would have them for her own. Freud was wrong: women don't have penis envy; they have testes envy. And now, they know how to get them, or at least to negate their potency.
But, instinctually, despite their trepidations, most women don't want to emasculate men; in fact, quite the opposite. They want men's attention, which is attested to by the fact that women almost always choose virile, traditional men--although their virility may be demonstrated as much by money as by their macho appearance, which accounts for the recent spate of beautiful women who marry successful computer nerds (who hide their traditional attitudes beneath a postmodern veneer). The wherewithal to succeed socially (and thus to nurture and protect the family--theoretically) is a primary factor in the mating ritual; women instinctually or even as a conscious agenda will opt for a mate to whom she is not very, or not at all, sexually attracted, because her instinct to protect and nurture offspring is as strong as and often stronger than her sexual desire, which, however, may be entertained extramaritally with rogue males, who, by the way, may deceive (even intentionally) single women by appearing to be highly successful when they are actually indigent, although that dynamic is not always only a matter of the nurturance-seeking instinct, but also may involve an unconscious competing interest that motivates women to cheat, rather than to seek a permanent relationship; or, more probably and unconsciously (and this has been scientifically, that is, biologically, verified), to become impregnated by the sperm of a virile rogue male while maintaining a domestic relationship with a husband who can provide a more stable and nurturing home environment. In other words, women are as nasty as men are and only pretend to be so manipulated and repressed by a male-dominated society, even convincing themselves into a state of denial.
But whichever motivation is in play, a woman wants a man's attention. And if she gets it, then she will decide, based on some of the factors above and a lot more besides, whether she will allow the guy to continue. And if she decides that she will allow it and the guy, for whatever reason, doesn't follow up, then we have a whole different ballgame. There is this theory that, if the "courtship" goes on too long, if a would-be couple experiences mutual awareness (most of which, that is, the full depths of which, is unconscious), their moment quickly passes and the relationship in its most ideal form will never be. This is a woman's agenda and definitely not a man's. Some woman made this up in order to solidify a typical female fantasy that sex is more than simply a physical process, that it is in a sense a spiritual process "ordained" by destiny or fate (or God, among some of the Bible thumpers).
Setting aside certain meta-physical considerations, from a typical male perspective, this theory is a lot of crap. It's expressed, in brief, by Melanie Griffith in the film Born Yesterday, when she and Harrison Ford fail to get together after their period of "mutual awareness." Nevertheless, they do get together, proving the theory wrong (at least within the context of the film), proving that it is a fantasy construction, and not a real-world function. In fact, in that film, they develop their relationship on the basis of real-world practicality, by which the filmmaker indicates either that the theory is wrong or that the film's logic has been violated. This same situation exists, I think, in this dream (at least I hope so): Cindy (as a symbol of any possible woman I might hook up with) and I will get together, even though our moment has passed. I decide that even within the dream.
[Some women have accused me of "teasing" them (which is what they feel like I'm doing, though they can't define for themselves exactly how I'm doing it), when I will wait to follow up on their (coded) advances because I'm looking for a more definitive statement of intent from them (which is against traditional type and therefore seldom forthcoming). And even when I do get what I'm looking for, I might still hesitate a bit, partly because it takes me by surprise since it happens so seldom, and partly because it takes a lot of effort from people in general and women in particular to overcome my nature that is dominated by my Asperger's-induced reticence.]
I think that women want the passed-moment theory to be true because, when they don't realize the physical manifestation of their fantasy, when a man (whom the woman tacitly approves) does not (chooses not to) follow up, for whatever reason other than third party interruptions, which serve to postpone the fantasy and reality to a later time, then the woman experiences various feelings that can later interfere with her more ideal satisfaction, feelings like rejection or unworthiness or lack of self-confidence and self-esteem derived from her (instinctually programmed) inability to act on her desire to bed the guy; and she remembers (if only as visceral body-memories) these feelings in subsequent encounters. In other words, women let their feelings get in the way of their sexual satisfaction. (Now, who didn't know that?)
I'm arriving home after having spent the entire night out, but I'm supposed to be at work at seven, and it's eight a.m. I'm feeling the usual (recurrent) anxiety (that I have in other dreams more typically after having dreamed that I slept in, and there is this sense in this dream also that in fact this is what I have done, so that the dream about the drug company is like, within this part of the dream, an earlier dream I had while asleep), so I hurry to get ready to go to work while weighing in my mind if I should just quit the job instead because it's not worth all of the crap I have to put up with and they don't pay me to do it anyway, that I am a hanger-on that has stayed on and worked without pay after having been fired (also recurrent, which I hypothesize, probably without merit, refers to the way I used to "psychically" attend to and help to solve problems that the company is still experiencing [personal problems fostered by how the company overtaxes its employees and fails to feed back critical job and personal related information that could improve their self-esteem, because psychologically well-developed workers do not remain in a company that insists on keeping wages suppressed, and loss of trained employees is always an important consideration], in the same way that I helped to solve them when I worked there, and what firing me in the first place was supposed to, but didn't solve; there is some basis in fact for this belief since, after I was fired, employees, feeling somewhat lost and confused about it, and floundering a bit in their work without me, came to visit me, seeking my advice and counsel to help them deal with their difficulties at the company). Cut to:
I'm in a car, in the back seat with Cindy. Dad is driving and Mom is in the front. When they're not looking back at us, Cindy and I are touching each other, as if casually, rubbing each other's arms, etc.; but it's more than casually, really. We're intent upon showing our affection for each other surreptitiously. We're highly attracted to each other and very seriously turning each other on. We're riding down the Parkway toward town (as if Cindy and I are going in to work late, but also as if we're heading to some social event and it's later, in the late afternoon). Dad drives off the Wilkinsburg exit. I wonder why. Then, he pulls up along the hillside while still on the exit and Cindy gets out of the car and runs up over the hill. I ask what she's doing. They answer me, not with words, but by driving into the residential area where Cindy lives (not in reality, but in the dream), the section of Wilkinsburg off to the left of Penn Ave. when you're driving from the Parkway toward the business district, between the first two stop lights. Dad pulls the car up in front of Cindy's house [when she got out of the car on the exit and ran up over the hill, there was no way in reality that she could easily get to this house from the exit; she'd have to cross the Parkway and several difficult roads] and we wait for Cindy to come out. I understand that, because we're going downtown to some classy event, Cindy wanted to get dressed up. I ask why we didn't just drive Cindy here instead of dropping her off, but I receive no answer. Dad gets out of the car to stretch while we wait. When Cindy comes out, she tries to get into the back, but Dad starts to get in instead. This makes me unhappy. Cindy gets into the driver's seat, and a young, eminem-like guy joins us. He wants to get into the front seat and sit between Mom and Cindy. So Cindy gets out to let him in and uses the opportunity to get into the back seat ahead of Dad. So, since Dad now has to drive, eminem gets into the back. Cindy squeezes over against me, sending eminem a clear message. Cut to:
Downtown. Dad, an uncle (I don't know the guy), and I are walking along the street, on Penn Ave., but as if it were farther uptown toward Second Ave. (recurrent non-real dream area). Dad has several bottles of wine that he and my uncle are sharing. In a kind of (dream unconscious) effort to keep Dad from drinking too much, I take the bottles from them and depart. I'm still supposed to be heading toward work and I feel like I'm going to be late, although it's still very early, probably six or so, earlier than before, almost as if it's the next day. It's just beginning to get light. I know I have to be at work, but I have other things I must do first, including getting rid of the booze because I can't take it into work with me. There are city cops in uniform all over the place, patrolmen on foot, and I try to take care to keep them from seeing the booze, since the bottles are open, and it's illegal to possess opened bottles of alcohol in public. I disguise my illegal activity by acting excessively friendly to the cops I see. This makes them suspicious of me and two of them start to follow me. In order to convince them that I'm not up to something, I say hello to the people I pass, and my charismatic friendliness causes them to say hello back. I see a guy across the street walking in the opposite direction. I don't know him, but I pretend I do and wave and shout good morning. For some reason, I know his name and he knows mine and we use them in our greetings. Still, this is not enough to dispel the suspicion of the cops. Then I see the police commissioner heading toward me on the sidewalk. As he approaches I say hello, calling him by name, and he says hello back and enthusiastically shakes my hand and asks me how I've been. This convinces the cops that they no longer have to follow me. I walk ahead a few blocks then circle the block and head back on the adjacent street, still wondering where I'm going to get rid of the booze, since I don't want to waste it by throwing it away. I decide that I'll take it into a bar and give it to the bartender, and I look for a friendly-looking bar. Most of the ones I pass look shady and disreputable; but I finally see one on the corner that looks nice. It's a very small place. I go in and ask the woman behind the bar, an older, aging, bleach blond, slightly matronly, but fairly good-looking gal, if she wants the wine and she is enthusiastic about taking it and thanks me profusely. One of the three bottles is a pint. That's brandy I say, and I tell her that it's all homemade. She asks if I made it, and I tell her I did. So she arranges for me to deliver several bottles a week to her. Having gotten rid of the booze, I'm free to go in to work.
I still don't feel like going out. I need to go to the bank to change my accounts to avoid the service fee, and I need to go grocery shopping, and today's the ideal day to do it, warm and sunny; but I just don't feel like it. And I feel guilty about not feeling like it. But, as long as I'm being otherwise productive, I feel like I can rationalize the guilt away, for now.
This guilt (and anxiety) is kind of like what I felt in the dream about being late for work and it's also the fence that keeps me locked inside the drug company and away from "ordinary" society; and my "need" to be somewhere and/or do something is like needing to get rid of the booze in the dream. I know how to handle this disturbing psychology, but it's a lesson I'm going to have to continue to learn until it thoroughly sinks in (I've been using it so long that you'd think it would have by now): it's some appropriately decided combination of waiting and acting. There's a time when doing whatever is exactly right; I don't need to learn to wait for it (I'm an expert at waiting), I need to learn to wait patiently (i.e., anxiety-free). This is what the religionists means when they preach that we should wait for God to speak to our hearts; but this doesn't have to exist as a religious principle because it's a valid psychological technique, entirely independent of spiritual concerns.
I get antsy (anxious) when there are things I need to do that have negative consequences if I don't do them. Working at my plans and goals in my own good time, when I feel like it, is one thing; if I don't do what I plan to do in these cases, the only consequence is that the accomplishment of my plans and goals will be delayed. But when the consequences of lack of action involve, for example, a loss of money (such as paying bills late and incurring a late fee, or failing to get to the bank in time and paying another month's service fee), then the stakes are raised. These examples are minor consequences, but there are others, such as not returning a purchase on time and having to keep an expensive item I don't really want. And there are more serious, social issues, like failing to show up for jury duty or a court appearance on a summary charge; etc. Or more serious personal issues like not going to the doctor when you're sure you're convinced you have skin cancer, but rather waiting until it has metastasized. [No. That's not something I've experienced, only an idle fear I've just now conjured up.]
When these little episodes of angst beleaguer me, and I inflate them into major, "life-threatening" issues, I get stuck in a downward spiral and can only get out of it by taking decided action, despite the reticence I feel to engage the public. This has been the story of my life: I make mistakes when I'm not in the correct mode for social interaction, sometimes serious, long-lasting mistakes, often relationship-affecting mistakes. Yet there is a simple solution: wait. There will be a time in the not so distant future when I will feel like engaging the public, and during these times, interaction always goes smoothly--because I signal it with my unconscious behavior, just as I signal the negative reactions when I do not feel adequate to social tasks.
Of course, some things absolutely need to be done immediately, true emergencies come up from time to time and must be handled forthwith; but they are few and far between and everything else can wait. "God" (your own inner nature) will tell you when the time is right; or at least "He" will tell me, this I know. (I know that it's not God, but my own inner nature, that tells me these things.)
I've been a waiter all my life, for the personal things I want to do; I need to learn how to extend this personal agenda out into the public sector by developing the "patience" to accomplish social tasks in their own good time. And, I guess, by developing patience, I mean I need to learn how to handle the anxiety that is produced by waiting for the right time when I feel like the only solution is to act.
[It's only occurred to me months after originally writing this that being a "waiter" (as in a restaurant) is a possible solution here: it takes a certain degree of humility (or a pretense to it) to serve the public, and this is exactly what is lacking in my life. If I really wanted to improve myself and advance my consciousness, I'd get a job in a subservient role. This is the lesson that Jesus taught when he washed the apostles' feet, humility. But I can't see myself "waiting" in this regard; when I wait, it is for people/events to approach me with requests and propositions that I may choose to ignore, depending on my particular mood at the time. This is perhaps indicative of the fact that waiting is not so good a psychology as I think it is; but it's a necessary one for me: I don't wait because I think it's what I should do; rather, my propensity toward not acting in a social context constitutes waiting, which I then rationalize as being what I should do. Given this logic, I may never resolve this problem and probably should drop my philosophy of waiting and replace it with a more flexible "wait v. act" policy that takes the particular circumstances of the present, including my own personal psychology ("mood"), into account. Yes!]
In some cases, waiting itself solves the "problem," when it will go away of its own volition as time passes. I need to learn better how to distinguish between action that needs to be taken because the problem is not going to go away and so the anxiety it produces will continue until the problem is resolved v. action that should be postponed until the time is right because I may have more information and/or resources available at that time and/or time itself may reduce or negate the need for necessary action.
And, more importantly, I need to learn how to feel better about engaging the public when I'm convinced that I must, how to attenuate the anxiety prior to interaction, so that the activity goes well and is an effective solution to the anxiety.
And, most importantly, I need to realize how effective, if only in the short term, engaging in this process of self-analysis is. When you turn your attention inward to assess your experiences with even just a modicum of objectivity, you tend to defuse the problem, for a while. Add to that the cathartic benefit of expressing the problem in words, and you have the beginnings of a therapy. In addition to writing in my journals, I do this when I write novels, although in a more disguised fashion. It seems that, when I'm writing, whatever, I'm short-circuiting problems I encounter in my own life, not only because I'm writing them out into art, but more simply because I'm paying (more or less) objective attention to them. They're outside that part of me that's looking at them; that is, they're outside myself, and it takes a little bit of time for them to find their way back in. Too bad I just can't write all the time and not have to deal with that damn "real world" at all. That would solve all my problems.
But some problems must be taken care of immediately: Last night I'm sitting in bed watching tv while eating a plate of rice and I feel a hard lump in my mouth, which I almost swallow. I extract it and discover that it's the crown of my molar. Shit. Now I have to go to the dentist; now I have to go out, when I least want to. (I've been putting off going to the bank for over a week.) The worst part of this is that I'm going to have to listen to the dentist and his bubbly, vacuous assistant lecture me about not having been there for so long. I hate that. If I want a father or a mother figure, I'll go out and rent one.
It should go without saying that this necessity to go tot he dentist is causing me some anxiety (which is excitement repressed, I know--I feel it). When I have a problem that causes anxiety or fear (always having something to do with either society or money), I feel like I need support, some kind of comfort and assurance that everything will be okay, even though if I actually got that support, I'd dismiss it as just so much unnecessary claptrap. The best kind of support I could get, I feel, would be (hold your breath for this one) from God. If I would pray to some kind of absolute God and feel that, in some ineffable and quasi-conscious way It will have answered me, I would feel quite secure and the anxiety would evanesce into the cosmos.
But I cannot make myself believe in a god, not even for practical purposes, at least not in the personal kind of god that would assure me in the way I need to be assured, in the way that a lover will assure me that my existence is meaningful, apart from anxiety. I envy believers who have this assurance available to them, but I cannot convince myself into the delusion that people create in order to feel better when they are faced with what seems to them to be insurmountable problems and/or overbearing ordeals. People create the psychological conditions of supposedly external assurance via belief in fictive higher powers, when it is within their own selves that the actual power resides, which they deny by projecting it out onto the ultimate reaches of their environment, out to a place where they can be uncertain as to what is there so that the possibility can exist that a god out there is aware of their predicament and helps them.
"God's" assurance and support feels good, whether it is real or not. So there's something to be said for self-delusion. It's functional. People who do not have access to this panacea are doomed to wander through an angst-riddled world. But it occurs to me that this same kind of assurance, if available to a believer, should be available to anyone in a more direct and unassuming way: obviously we have the capacity for (self-) assurance within us. The unconscious mind is a powerful entity. But for many of us, it is buried so deeply as to be inaccessible in ordinary everyday terms. And yet...
[I'm not an atheist. I believe in God, although I don't know what that means: It could be anything, a universal force, such as, for example, the Higgs Ocean; an extradimensional intelligence; the sum total of the complexification of matter; a "presence" existing "within" each of the smallest particles of that matter; or something else altogether.
But I don't believe in an afterlife, although I maintain an open mind, because the possibilities of modern physics and cosmology are so complex that they leave room for doubt. But I'm not an agnostic, which requires a formal kind of doubt: I don't know whether I doubt or not; I admit that I don't know enough even to doubt re these kinds of matters.]
How do I get to this innate human capacity of self-assurance without appealing to mythology and superstition? I'm going to work at this task on my own, because I've never been the kind of person who goes in for guru-worship. Even when I was young and idolized certain heroes, modeling myself after them, I would never have taken their advice if they showed up in person and offered it. I was always way too rebellious and psychologically stubborn to allow myself to believe that I needed anyone's help. I've always wanted to do everything on my own, so that the rewards also would be mine alone. So, the advice of any spiritual advisor who might tell me how to go about providing for my own comfort and support is not likely to be very effective. (Yet I will research the problem in order to appropriate intelligent ideas that I can incorporate into my own sense of logic.) And, as for conventional ministers, preachers, etc. who just might know something in this regard...well, I don't think so. The profession is just too damn tainted.
For example, I don't mind it when preachers (of the tv variety; I'd never have occasion to see any other kind) pontificate on the Bible and even on the psychology behind it, which they usually get right, though it be couched in fictive dogma. Their message in this genre is their area of expertise, and I accept it for what it is. What I mind is when they drift off subject and wander into the realm of science in their vain and misguided attempt to justify their dogma via pseudo-science, especially in light of the fact that they could very well justify it in a genuinely scientific way.
In fact, I wonder why they feel the need to justify it at all. If they truly believe, then why should their beliefs need justification? It seems to me that when they consider their dogma as under attack by science, they put themselves into an untenable position that they need not be in. They reveal themselves in this way to be insecure and desperate to prove otherwise. By going to the lengths they do to recast science in ancient terms in order to make it consistent with the myths and literary metaphors that they feel they must interpret literally, they expose their insecurity. I might even call this their anxiety, which they appeal to their "God" for relief from, which they find in the same way that they justify their literally-interpreted dogma--via a superstitious belief in things that don't exist.
So, by definition, how could they ever help me, when they can't even help themselves, except via self-delusion. If the alternative is to be deluded into a comfort zone, then let me die of terminal anxiety instead. I'd rather die with my eyes open than live with them glued shut by supercilious dogma.
I've got to keep my eyes open, I've got to remain aware. I'd remain awake twenty-four hours a day if I thought it might make me more tuned-in to the lessons I learn and then forget. I used to do this all the time when I was young: realize something about myself or about life, dwell on it, carry it through the day and night, make it the purpose of my existence, and then after a marathon waking session, fall asleep and dream up a different existence that was all the more potent for having been awake so long.
But I can't not sleep any more, even though when I do, I still experience that certain sense of freedom, from the ritual of my own obsessive personality, caught up in a wonderment of momentary existence. When I stay up all night and persist long into the next morning, and then, wired from having focused too long at some dedicated task, don't want to go to bed, but equally don't want to do anything productive, I feel released from the mental constraints that inform me that I'm supposed to be accomplishing something and the only way to do this consistently is to establish and maintain rigid plans and schedules that will outline and enforce progress bit by tiny bit. All of my life, more or less, I've used this method to alternately constrain and free myself. But now I have to worry about the rhythm of my heart, which rebels against the excess of prolonged anything--lack of sleep, too much sleep (ha! I wish), too much coffee, too many beers, yada yada yada. This is just complaining, nothing more.
If I'd seriously allow myself to freewheel now, which I always used to love to do, I wouldn't get a whole lot of sleep, not like I used to when I was young and finally went to bed. Especially in the summer, when I naturally seem to remain awake longer, I could get by on a few hours a night and a short nap in the afternoon if I didn't force myself to go to bed. It's a leisurely way of life to freewheel, sleeping when you feel like it, awakening refreshed and feeling like accomplishing something. When you have no social constraints that dictate the time and length of time you sleep, you fall into a natural rhythm, which, fortunately or unfortunately, for me has never been diurnal. The essence of leisure is that you can do what you want when you want to do it.
People (myself included; and maybe no one else) wonder if my life of leisure is a valid way to spend my time; but it's not a life of leisure, really; that's a misperception, one which I happen to cultivate as a (self-) deception. Although I convinced everyone that I retired (way too early, most people think, enviously, but never dare to say; but I know what they're thinking), I'm continually working. No one understands what I'm really up to. I could end up working for the rest of my life full time and never complete all of the plans I've made. I work at these plans every day and every night, in one way or another. I go to sleep and dream about these plans; in fact, that's where many of them come from, my dreams. These plans are so extensive that I can hardly do a single thing without acting toward their completion. This is my work, not my leisure. When I used to work "for a living"--at a job--that wasn't my work, that was my compromise, and my distraction, what I needed to do in order to survive and accumulate enough money to make this current life possible. Except for the relatively minor problems of depression and anxiety, I'm living the perfect(ly defined) life.
I have a t-shirt that says, "No one's perfect all the time." I interpret this to mean that, although some people appear to be perfect, at least in comparison to others, they aren't, at least not all the time. But, I guess, it could mean the opposite, that the wearer might make a few occasional mistakes, but is otherwise more or less perfect.
I am an imperfect conscious entity, searching for identity, discontented with the standard definitions, finding them too restricting. And yet, when I examine my internal contents embedded far below the personal defects I too readily discover, I find a kind of universal perfection, which is shared among all things.
With universal perfection somewhere always in the back of my mind, I strive to incorporate the environment I encounter into the life I lead, and not only physically, but mentally as well. I believe that everything I need is right here in front of me or will show up at the time I need it, or shortly thereafter. The life I'm developing would be most perfect (perfection in this sense is developmental and comparative) if every single bit of data [physical or mental] that I encounter would be automatically incorporated into the system that I am. As it is, I can't keep up with it and accumulate huge deficits of material that figuratively and literally pile up, making my life a cluttered mess--but a perfectly cluttered mess. I appropriate the materials where I find them, although with the physical materials, of course, I must consider ownership and available space. But the mental materials, ah ha!
I steal words as much as I steal ideas. But ideas are meant to be stolen, it's how we communicate and interact; and words enter the public domain as soon as they're used the first time. Inexplidiotically, I imitate others when my most treasured desire is to be a fiercely independent self; yet I overuse words, phrases, and verbal structures because they say exactly what I want them to say: sometimes, more or less, maybe, really, after all, actually, not...but..., quite the, ...well, I mean, anyway... This is partly a function of obsession, partly genuine self-expression, and partly simple laziness.
Paradoxically (but maybe not), I am at my height of laziness when I experience a kind of hypomania that gets me working productively: I don't want to be bothered with too much detail when I'm speeding along getting a lot done. I'm much better with detail when I'm hypoactive and so mope along, picking and choosing words and phrases carefully and thoughtfully, almost as a means of dalliance, merely putting in the time so that I can justify my existence by actually working when I would rather not. I'm an artist who doesn't want to work at art a lot of the time.
In an attempt to justify my artist status (because I want to believe that working in my gardens is an artistic endeavor, because I want to be outside), I look up the definition of the word:
art - 1. An esthetically pleasing and meaningful arrangement of elements, as words, sounds, colors, shapes, etc.; also, the productions embodying such arrangements. 2. Forms of human activity whose chief characteristic is determined by such an arrangement, as literature or music, and especially painting, sculpture, drawing, etc.And there you have it: I have an artistic vision in mind for my gardens [and for the inside of my home also, but that can wait again until the winter, except that in the winter I lose my motivation and seldom want to do it]; and digging in the dirt, growing plants, pruning, transplanting, etc. is an artistic way of life (if it's done right, artistically, which, the definition implies, is a matter of personal interpretation): I'm working the elements (plants, rocks, etc.) to create "an esthetically pleasing and meaningful arrangement" in accordance with my vision.
I want to be outside, and I want to create my "garden art"; but I miss working at the written word and want to do it too. Time is of the essence here (and everywhere); but time is always most useful to me when I fritter it away in reverie, where no one knows where I am, even as they perceive my form directly, sometimes even when I speak directly to them. A lot of the time people say they don't understand me, meaning not only that they don't understand why I do the things I do, but also that they don't understand the things I'm saying. Even though I don't do this intentionally, I like myself this way. I reveal myself too clearly, I want to think, when I write about myself directly like I'm doing now. Better to hide myself in novels, dispersed among the characters.
It used to be that when I wrote a novel or a short story, I worried about how my own psychology would be revealed through that of the characters, if they would be seen as revealing, not only their own psychologies, but mine as well. I started writing in the first place to reveal my psychology to myself, both through characters and directly; and I started publishing fiction to reveal (a more general) psychology to others, while trying to maintain a personal distance, which was nearly the entire focus of my psychology back then. Now I see that, not only will much of my personal psychology be available to the discerning reader in my fiction, but that it's a desirable effect; in fact, it's the whole point. I've come to understand this from publishing this journal online, where I reveal, not characters' lives, but my own, directly. This is advancement, I think: I think I like myself this way also.
My brother (who is not a sociopath either, in case you might be wondering that this is what I might be implying) is worse than ever. The alcohol is taking its toll: he can't even walk up a flight of stairs by altering one foot after another, but must use the handrail to steady himself and lift one foot onto each step, slowly followed by the other. And, despite his New Year's resolution to lose weight, he has gained even more.
When I first arrived, he was outside puttering in the yard while I spoke to Joyce in the kitchen. She informed me that she has lost 27 pounds and I told her I could see that. Then she joked that "Jim found it." When he came inside, I told this to Jim, mostly because I thought it was a good joke, but also because I had it in the back of my mind that, if Joyce was going to confide things in me, I needed to let her know that I was not going to keep them secret from Jim. Jim was irritated with Joyce that she'd said this about him, and Joyce didn't look too pleased with me for having said it. Too bad. Take the hint.
Back at home, I have my own disturbance(s) to deal with. I can't allow my brother's life and wife to overly affect me.
So I'm beginning again to listen to classical music full time, because something's gotta change, preferably my mind.
Intelligence is not what's important; what's important is conditioning, or rather the relative lack of it.
I've written before how I want to substitute a bicycle for my car whenever possible; but I live among steep hills.
And I don't want people to think I'm beginning to senesce. But if President Bush can ride a bike, so can I.
The other day I was looking for a book, Come Back, Dr. Caligari by Donald Barthelme. I wanted to reread it after having just read several of his other works. But I couldn't find it. I looked for (actually minutes, but it seemed like) hours on several different occasions through all of my shelves of books in every room in the house, and I finally gave it up, the cover appearance distinctly etched in my memory as if I had just seen the book, but the actual book apparently having dissipated into thin air. I even imagined I had given it away and didn't remember doing it (but of course I dismissed the idea immediately, because I no longer lend books, because people, despite their good intentions, will not return them).
And then, a few days later, I go back into the studio, where I have an entire wall dedicated to bookshelves, arranged mostly by author. I'm going to file away another book by Bartheleme that I just finished. But I can't find the previous ones I recently read to put the book with them. What's going on here? I think. This is exceedingly strange. Then, walking back through the living room, I happen to notice several books, the only things on the new shelving unit I just put in. And they're all the Barthelme books I just finished reading. Ah, I think. So that's where I put it. I vaguely remember having decided to start a new collection of my favorite books; it's almost a trace in my feeble brain.
After I came back from the dentist the other day, I began to wonder if I'd been there more recently than I remembered, because the feeling of having had the crown replaced seemed very familiar. And when I lost the crown, the feeling of putting it back in temporarily until I could get an appointment seemed awfully familiar too. When I'd called for the appointment, the receptionist asked how long ago I'd been in, and I told her it's been a long time, probably close to twelve years. But later, looking back through my check records, I see that I wrote them a check only six years ago. So I had lost the crown before and had completely forgotten about it.
This is scary stuff, that I can forget about things like this. Like, maybe, I'm getting senile, slowly losing memories. Except that I've always been this way. This sounds very familiar. Didn't I just write this same thing recently? I've been feeling very distracted lately, far more so than usual. And I feel like I've been complaining a lot more recently. And just as I think this thought, it's echoed on tv:
With a hint of disguised self-abnegation, a Jewish comic, in the tradition of Jackie Mason and Richard Klein, hints that Jews complain a lot. I recognize this as a comment that, if made by anyone other than a Jew, might be considered anti-Semitism, since the p.c. crowd has extended that sin far beyond its traditional cultural boundary. They complain about themselves and their incessant guilt; and they complain as to how they are persecuted, throughout history and still. Jews complain a lot, and rightly so, about anti-Semitism; but do they ever give a thought to anti-gentilism, I wonder--because it also is a predominant, though overlooked, theme of history. I'm condoning neither, but I'm just saying... Jewish comics turn their trials into entertainment. It's kind of what I myself do, except I'm not trying to be so funny.
I'm out on the back porch working (as I have actually been doing every day for the past week or so) and I awaken and realize that what I'm dreaming about is what I've been obsessing about over the past week while working outside, that is, getting all of the wood cut and the yard and gardens straightened out. And instantly I'm confronted with a waking image that is as sharp and detailed as if I were still dreaming: Rita is standing on the other side of the fence/gate that blocks the porch off from the side yard. It's a simple image, nothing more, so this elaborate description will seem to belie it, except that it is accurate: She's wearing a slightly frilly white blouse and black jumper shorts with attached suspenders; and she's thin. At first I think she's Eileen, because she's so thin and looks like an in-process morph between the two women; but instantly she becomes fully Rita. I take this entire waking image in, from beginning to end, in one instant, shocked by her appearance while I'm awake, and I tell her (I think it) I'll meet her out front, because she's blocked off from getting to the porch by the fence, and because it's filthy back here and I don't want her to get her nice clothes dirty. On the way toward the front (no imagery except for the earlier brief image of Rita) I start to fall asleep again, and I tell myself to stay awake to appreciate the situation; but by the time I'm at the front, I'm fully asleep and dreaming normally again. We approach each other from opposite sides of the porch. I say, "Wow, you look so good. You're so hot. Let's go inside and have sex." She laughs and says, "You're a trip," which was one of her favorite comments. Cut to:
I'm at my grandmother's house (recurrent). She has died and people are there, visiting, and I'm a visitor too, as if I am a guest of theirs, although, at the very beginning I belong and they are the guests. In the back bedroom, I talk to a guy, a combination of my cousin Rick and someone else. Rick is one of the inheritors of the house (I am not included in the inheritance, but I feel no envy). He has to decide what to do with the house, and so I advise him to keep it rather than sell it, to combine it with his other real estate holdings to begin building an empire of rental units. It's not easy work, I say. There'll be a lot of repairs, etc. to be done; but it'll be worth it in the long run. He agrees and is thankful for my advice. I go down into the basement. I have to pee really badly, but there is nowhere to go. Then I see several drains in the floor and I pee into one of them. I awaken briefly, fearing I might be wetting the bed. I feel my underwear to make sure. I'm not. I think of George Burns in Going in Style, awakening after having slept in a chair to discover that he has wet himself. Back to sleep. Upstairs in the dining room, I "socialize" with people. But on my way back up to the bedroom, my cousin/friend tells me that I'm deceiving myself, that I'm not a sociable person. He informs me that the others laugh behind my back, make fun of me, say that I smell bad (body odor) and am generally unpleasant to be with. He thinks he's being helpful, but he's really enjoying being hurtful but doesn't know it. He started telling me this in the living room as we were heading upstairs, and as I climb the steps, I find it difficult to ascend because of all the junk piled on the steps that I have to work my way around.
I'm not unsociable (my brother, among others, has accused me of this in the past), I have a physical (physiological) handicap that exhibits itself as social incompetence, which I disguise (very well, I might add) through a practiced, cool reserve that makes me appear to be unsociable. (I have a subconscious belief that it's better to be thought of as unsociable than lacking in social skills, especially since I do not lack social skills, I have developed my skills in this area quite well; I lack, at times, an ability to apply them appropriately. It's a fine distinction.) Last night, before I fell asleep, I was fantasizing (rationalizing) how I have been discriminated against in this regard all my life, especially on the job. I developed a three-tiered argument that ranged from an explanation of simple prejudice, divided into physical and psychological traits, extended up through prejudicial behavior in general as it manifests itself independently of specific people and conditions, and concluded with legal considerations, how most prejudice is tacitly condoned by society because it is not illegal, or even politically incorrect.
This fantasy is a semi-formal presentation to a former boss who is conducting a meeting to get to the root cause of why I believe I was discriminated against during my time of employment. I elicit his agreement, step-by-step, with each situation I explain re how he is allowed to discriminate against people with various debilities, ranging from simple psychological deficiencies up through a general lack of intelligence (IQ), and that he may base his decisions not to hire on any rationale, that he need not confine the decision-making process to work-related criteria; for example, he may refuse to hire someone with an IQ of 75, not because they would be incapable of doing the work, but because he just doesn't like the way mentally handicapped people look or act. I conclude my presentation by stating that the kind of discrimination I experienced, not only at this job, but also throughout my life, was of this third kind. And I further state that, before anyone asks, let me announce that I'm not going to reveal what my condition is, because labeling it will only further enable others' ability to discriminate more effectively.
"Yeah, I made a lot of mistakes in my life," I say. "And going to work for your company was one of the big ones. But guess what? You made a lot of mistakes too, and so did a lot of the people who work for you, and some of those mistakes were far bigger than any I ever made." I did a bit of discrimination myself as a supervisor; but, always, it had to do with how employees did their jobs. If they performed adequately, I can say with confidence that I totally ignored any other of their personal quirks and shortcomings (and there were a lot of them)--much to my detriment I now understand, because a lot of what I ignored came back to bite me in the ass. If I had been more discriminating, I could have weeded out those people who worked behind my back to instill negative attitudes and beliefs against me. I could have protected myself quite well. I had the skill to do it, and I understood what they were doing, but I believed (erroneously, I guess) that nothing bad would happen to me as long as I acted aboveboard and honestly with people and assessed and treated them objectively and fairly.
All of that is like a dream now, in the far past. I forget a lot of my dreams, but that is one that I have not forgotten. Others I remember again after a long time passes:
I'm in the old neighborhood where I grew up, halfway up the hill below our house, associating with old friends. I walk up to our house with the awareness that I haven't been there in a long time. I get the mail out of the mailbox, which is further up the street, at the sidewalk where it was originally placed, instead of on the other side of the driveway where we moved it later. There's a lot of mail in there, along with fragments of old torn envelopes, etc. It's obvious that the mail hasn't been retrieved in a while, and the box, although it's the correct size, paradoxically needs to be far larger to accommodate all of the mail and detritus that it contains. The grass at the front of the lot hasn't been cut in a while and weeds are starting to grow. I empty the mailbox into my arms and carry it all with difficulty into the house, where I deposit it onto the counter between the dining room and the kitchen. My mother is in the dining room and begins to talk to me about something irrelevant. I try to ask her what's going on, but I can't direct her attention onto what I think is important. The countertop is crowded with used dishes and other things and I can hardly find a place to put down the mail and have to wedge it in between things. I wonder what's wrong, because my mother has always been meticulous in the upkeep of her house; the unmowed lawn and the countertop mess indicate an atypically lax attitude on her part.
Obviously, my mother is not herself in the dream, but me; I have been way too lax in my home upkeep over the past few years. But why dream about the old home instead of my current one, if this the dream's message? Maybe the seeds of my disorder are back there at that time, after I moved out, but before my mother's death. Like my mother, I've always wanted to be organized. I recognize this penchant I have for organization in her. I've always felt this same motive for organization. And for most of my life I struggled to achieve an imperfect state of order, until, on my own, I gradually decided that it's not so important, that order should reflect, not my ideal state of mind, but a practical application of the way I live; and life is not ordered when you consider it fully, there is far too much complexity to ever organize a life consciously, and the kind of order I've wanted to achieve (the kind my mother maintained) is accomplished at the expense of the exclusion of much content. (I'm really talking about mental content here, with the physical objects contained in my house and outbuildings as a metaphor for it.)
So the conclusion I come to is that I'm a mess, and have always been a mess; but, for most of my life until fairly recently, I've managed to defend myself against this aspect of my psychology. But now... I no longer have my mother to expect more of me than I am literally capable of. Even as I thoroughly rebelled early on and throughout my life, she was there in the back of my mind, expecting, not only that I did the right thing in every aspect of my life, but did it in the most perfect way possible. It's a tough heritage to live up to. This is the same function that God serves for most people. Expectation is a powerful force. We may think, if we ever do, that it issues from others--and certainly it most often originates there--but its most immediate manifestation is within the self. We are all our own mothers and/or fathers; and we are our own gods.
God's PR people must be pretty goddamned clever to have managed to get all of the "good" causes and effects assigned to his realm of responsibility while all of the "evil" stuff is assigned elsewhere (humans, Satan, etc.), because if God is any kind of universal God at all (and not some more limited member of a Greek or Roman-like pantheon), then It is beyond all dichotomy; and good and evil are not absolutes, but human mental constructs, a pair among many pairs of residual products of the application of (more or less) rational thought. So, when anything goes wrong in my life, I blame "God," whatever that means. Because, if people can thank It for small "miracles" (which they seldom are, but are rather effects in the ordinary circumstances of existence), then I can blame It for the bad things that happen to me.
For two days in a row I have had less than six hours sleep (after having slept so well for so many weeks and gotten so much done). This has dropped my daily average for the months down to below eight hours. This is when I start to experience problems, I want to think, this is when I start not to want to do things. It's an hypothesis.
Yesterday afternoon, minor irritations began to impinge themselves on me: I'm working on the computer when I hear the kids next door thrashing around outside. So I get up to see what they're doing and I see them jumping into and thrashing around in my hedge. I go outside and tell them, in as pleasant a way as I can so as not to alienate them, intentionally smiling, "Hey, guys, you're breaking down my hedges."
Immediately, they are apologetic. They're good kids, respectful, well brought up. But they are kids and they will do stupid things from time to time. No need to get upset, as some people will. Unlike a lot of people, I remember what it's like to be young.
I rearrange some of the branches of the hedge back into place and the littlest guy hangs around and helps while his cousin runs off and his brother tries to lure him away. The older brother, though friendly, is distrusting, but the little guy hasn't yet been intimidated by society, or doesn't have a genetic disposition in that direction. Out of the blue the other day, when he saw me outside, he even offered me one of his gummy worms and he looked hurt when I said, "No thanks."
I went back into the house just in time to catch the tail end of a phone message from my sister. I'd been waiting for her call because we'd been on the phone earlier and she had a visitor and said she'd call me back. I didn't get to the phone in time, and I didn't call her back because I don't have long distance service. Instead, I sent her an e-mail, because in the message she said, I guess you went bed, and I don't want her to think I take naps in the afternoon, even though I sometimes do; but not lately. But I don't want her to think that any more because that's what old folks do. Never mind that I've always done that because, before melatonin, I could never establish a regular sleep schedule.
I'm taking melatonin every night now. I hope there's nothing wrong with doing that because it's made me a (more) normal person. I have to be somewhat normal, or at least sleep normally [which I never before did throughout my life, even when I was working at jobs, often going to work after having been up most of the night and crashing in the afternoon when I got home], in order to execute my gardening plans, because it would be just too weird to be working out in the gardens at two in the morning, even though I could manage it since I installed the floodlights last year; and I wouldn't mind doing gardening that way, except that I might appear to be crazy (or crazier) to my neighbors. I suspect that my having planted my entire yard, which was previously all lawn, with fruit plants, gives them the idea that I'm just a slight bit off. They must see me digging and planting and wonder about me, I think. But that's probably just my paranoia.
The other day I transplanted some suckers from the raspberry plants and a few of the suckers from one of the plants were rooted too well to the main plant and consequently, I overly damaged the root system and the plant looks like it's dying. It's one of the new plants that I rooted from layered branches last fall, and the thought that I might have killed it pisses me off; that is, I piss myself off. Just another one of the little things, like the broken hedges, that have been plaguing me lately. I sort of wish some terrorist would blow something important up so that it could divert my attention away from my petty "problems" for a while. All of these petty annoyances are God's fault, of course.
Back inside, I start to think again, as I inevitably will, given enough free time, about the jobs I used to work at, especially the last one: I was in an evil place, working for an evil company with evil people and I became so stressed by the long-term situation that I began to act like they did, out of a sense of necessity for employment survival, which behavior eventuated in my loss of that job because my mimicry enabled management and workers to deny and project and blame me for the kinds of behavior we all engaged in; once again, the sacrificial goat. And that experience was such a disaster for me, losing that job I'd held for so long and unwittingly vested so much self-worth in--until after a while I realized that losing that job was the best thing that could have happened to me. It changed my life. And I'm wondering now if I acted unconsciously toward that end, so that I could be free of the place and the affective disorder it represented, when consciously I hung on so tightly to the job's prestige.
This may be what "God" is: It resides within you, an unconscious sub-entity directing your life, giving you what you need while you consciously struggle so hard against it. Religious people say that God will act, always, for your eventual benefit. I don't believe it, I don't believe in a personal God, except when I interpret "God" to mean the central, undivided core of my unconscious mind. I feel that kind of God emanate from within sometimes, when I will meditate on it; I feel it in a way I do not feel any kind of God from without, because science has pretty much explained that mystery away, or pushed It so far beyond the planet that It effectively cannot act upon me--unless It resides in the extra-dimensions of string theory or in the Higgs field or the Dirac sea or some other exotic place like that, which lies as much inside us as outside; but I have doubts about God existing within or comprising extra-dimensionality and/or fields, because eventually we will scientifically explain those phenomena too (although, one day, we may come to an end of it; but maybe not, maybe It goes on forever, maybe that's the point). And anyway, it's apparent to me that the possibility that the mystery we feel when we look out at a distant nature, whether it be the stars or the nearby tree line where the woods spirits dwell, is a projection of that mystery we hide deep inside ourselves and deceive ourselves into believing doesn't exist.
I very much want to believe in (an external) God. But I refuse to be self-delusional. I may hypothesize God's existence, but I'm too much of a scientist to make the necessary leap of faith, which I consider to be mere delusional (non-)thinking. But if God were inside me...well now, that's a different thing entirely, isn't it? If God directs my activities unconsciously while I resist Its direction with my conscious ego-mind, that's an hypothesis I can live with. I have lots of ideas I reality-test concerning this matter, re-interpreting standard church theology in my own terms:
It doesn't matter what people think of you if you're doing what "God" wants you to. Like, I could get out my old ten-speed and ride it up the hill to the store and back because gas prices are so ridiculous any more. I've wanted to do this for a long time now; but I'm not a kid any more, and when I see older people on bikes, I wonder if like maybe there's something wrong with them. But it wouldn't matter if "God" were directing this activity now, would it? This is what I want to believe: my unconscious mind (and even in this case my conscious one) has for a long time been telling me to ride a bike instead of car whenever possible, and I've been resisting the idea. But with gas prices drastically rising, maybe the time has come; and if God is telling me to do it...
I should trust in "God" to resolve the problems in my life and remove the obstacles placed before me and lead me to live my life in the "right" way. Well, I believe that I'm living my life in the right way now, now that I no longer work at jobs, which was definitely the wrong way, for me, not that I wouldn't like to still be working and making money, but at what? I've never really fit very well into the job market, there's never been anything I ever really wanted to do as my "work." So, I've ended up listening to "God," gotten the message, and acted on it, despite myself. Yeah, it acted on me, by getting me fired, several times in fact; but I could have gone back out and gotten another job, but I didn't. Instead, I "retired," very early. It was the right thing to do, and I knew it. "God" told me. In fact, It had been telling me for years, but I just wasn't listening; but finally, It began to scream at me, by putting me in the hospital with "minor" heart problems, nothing to really worry about, just enough to get my attention (it took several incidents before I started to listen seriously), nothing to become overly concerned about, unless...
Anxiety pits itself against my trust in "God" (that is, in my unconscious self). It's becoming more conscious, but it's not an overtly conscious process yet, and certainly not in its origin. I want to be able to say, Okay, God, I trust that You will remove the obstacles in my life and allow me to go on living in the right way that I have finally discovered. (In the present context, this takes the form of trusting that, when the next car inspection period rolls around, I will be able to get my car inspected, and/or I will resolve the repair enigma it represents.) But, as the Arabs say, "Trust in Allah, but tie your camel." There are things that I must do; "God" will not do everything. In fact, It won't do anything at all if It is my unconscious mind. I will, whether I realize it or not. My camel-tying is the plans I make when anxiety strikes. It's the way I deal with anxiety.
Trust is less of an issue in the summer, when the environment does not threaten to annihilate you. It's the (angle of the) sun, which is more than a symbol of the inner strength and resilience we harbor as our unconscious God, it is that strength, internalized: we know (intuit) from whence we derive our life, our life force, our energy. Without the sun, we die. It's a permanent part of our animal psychology. All living things worship the sun, because we value life. So, when "evil" terrorists threaten to take life, any life, away, we are correct to feel not only threatened, but morally outraged, and we know, intuitively, that their "religion" is an "evil" one and that where they're going (actually, they're not going anywhere except into dust) is no heaven, in anybody's terms.
This is my departure from organized religion and the terrors from within (anxiety): religions kill, in one way or another, the spirit of life, despite their intent to do the opposite [organized religion is not much different than terrorists in this respect, except that it's a lot more subtle], by concretizing a fluid [think gaseous, as in clouds or, more appropriately, the subatomic activity of the sun] process into a rigid system of "belief" where, if you fail to incorporate into it your daily life, you are "wrong." Anxiety does the same damn thing: it forces me to make plans. I tie up my camel, which is the antithesis of trust. This is the flaw of being human: conflict; because we cannot fully trust; not each other, and not our own damn selves. At the very least, we have got to learn to trust our unconscious mind. It's telling us something we can't afford not to hear. All humans, not only the Arabs, construct pithy dichotomous paradoxes to reflect this conceptual conflict that trying to think about absolutes forces the rational mind to generate.
I know, if I feel the anxiety, that something is wrong. This is a message. "God" is trying to tell me something, and it's not that I shouldn't trust It; but I should be wary, I think. The conditions I'm facing are not straightforward. The people I'm encountering or about to encounter may not be quite as aboveboard as they make themselves out to be. Watch for the hidden messages, always; not only the fairly straightforward, though subconscious, ones, but also the ones that warn you about the subconscious messages that may be as erroneous as the ideas that the conscious mind concocts. Listening to God is a tricky business. I mean, "He" tells fundamentalist Arabs that if they die making war against infidels, they'll go to heaven where they'll be rewarded with seventy virgins. Isn't that just like a paternalistic, chauvinistic God? Is that a universal force, or is it something dredged up from the depths of twisted minds of men who've spent too much time in the desert heat with the sun god beating down on them? You tell me.