It’s Friday morning, now, and I’m writing this on my phone, because I did go back to the house from the office last night. My boss actually made a point to have me leave a bit early; he took me to the train station himself.
I guess it was pretty obvious how worn out I was. I actually felt rather giddy and weird much of the day, yesterday, but it wasn’t exactly a healthy feeling. This morning I feel more like my usual self, which is not an improvement, necessarily, but at least it’s “usual”.
I’ve been reading a book called From Strength to Strength, by a guy who was on Sam Harris’s podcast and sounded like he had some interesting ideas. It’s basically about how the abilities and habits people have as young go-getters, achievers, innovators and whatnot inevitably diminish over time, but that other abilities, and the possibility for a different and deeper kind of success, can happen after passing the peak of the “fluid” intelligence stage.
However, as he notes, it can be difficult for people whose habits of achieving have been honed and have worked well so far in their lives to achieve what they thought they wanted‒money, power, prestige, and so on‒to let go of those habits and move on to more rewarding “second act” kinds of things, like good relationships, family, teaching and helping others, and spiritual pursuits.
Now, I was certainly a high-achiever, but all my youthful rewards were taken from me by injury and ill-health, divorce, depression, and incarceration. I lost everything I had except a few knick-knacks that had been lent to other people, and I lost my wife and kids (effectively), and I certainly lost any and all prestige I’d had.
The prestige stuff was never a huge deal to me, nor was “being a doctor” the way in which I defined myself (I’m not sure I ever actually “defined” myself in any way other than that I was the person thinking and doing whatever I was thinking and doing). I went to medical school almost as an afterthought, when other plans got derailed due to my congenital heart condition.
Medicine was something I liked, though‒intellectually challenging and stimulating, full of science and learning, and centered around the ability to do real good in the world and relieve or at least lessen the suffering of some people within the reach of my arm. That was good, because I have always felt a kind of inherent guilt over the very fact of my own existence, and have felt very much wrong in this world. I’ve always felt that I had to justify, in some way, my continued existence, the inevitable depletion I caused of the planet’s oxygen and food and water. Either that or I would simply need to embrace being a villain and willfully choose destruction and cruelty and evil.
That latter bit was too much work, though, and it’s hard to be a pure bad guy when you’re what might be thought of as a sort of anti-narcissist.
So, anyway, back to the subject. I didn’t need to force myself to jump off the treadmill of my youthful power curve; I had already crashed and burned catastrophically.
I unfortunately have no close relationships whatsoever to cultivate anymore, not really. My sister and brother, with whom I get along well and always have, are more than 1300 miles away, and my cousin slightly farther. I cannot face the prospect of trying to move closer to them, to change where I am located, to try to find a new place to make a living, and to become a burden, even a minor one, upon those people‒even if they would be willing to take that burden up. I am not willing to deliver it. Not to them.
However, I may be able to try to approach some kind of “spiritual” life. I can’t be religious in any kind of traditional, “western” sense. I just can’t buy into that stuff. I’ve tried. I’ve read the whole Bible (parts of it multiple times), both testaments, including the first chapter of Genesis in Hebrew. I’ve read as much of the Koran as I could force my way through (about half). None of them are very impressive, and I’m willing to bet the Book of Mormon, for instance, isn’t any better.
However, I’ve always been pretty good at self-hypnosis and meditation. I’ve had trouble with meditation in recent years, because, while it tends to reduce my tension and stress, it seems to exacerbate my depression. However, that was often meditation associated with a sort of mantra, drawn from my time of self-hypnotism habits. But maybe if I try simple, pure Vipassana meditation, it might be better.
I don’t think I could possibly become very much more depressed than I already am without crashing full-steam into a life-threatening‒or life-ending‒crisis. And that would be at least some kind of result, so that’s not so very bad.
Anyway, I think I’m going to try, in my moments of lack of work, to get into a more persistent practice of mindfulness meditation. I’m not ready‒and I may never be‒to work toward any metta (lovingkindness) meditation, because it’s hard for me to feel beneficent feelings toward the world in general, though it’s easier than feeling them toward myself.
It’s not true that in order to love others you have to love yourself; that’s patent nonsense. It may be that you have to love yourself in order to be loved, but I doubt even that is close to being true. These all seem to be just tropes and gimmicks trying to trick people, often with good intentions, to work on loving themselves.
Anyway, that’s a tangent. I do hope that maybe, at least, being less tense will make me snack a bit less, since eating is almost a form of “stimming” for me, a kind of self-soothing behavior, a reliable source of at least transient positive feeling, strongly wired into the nervous system. I don’t eat because of actual hunger, that’s for sure. When I actually am hungry, I usually don’t eat, because the feeling, the sensation, is quite interesting and stimulating. But, of course, these kinds of eating habits end up making me feel worse about myself, and they aren’t good for my physical health.
So, I’ll try to do the mindfulness stuff. I might as well. I’ve tried every class of antidepressant except MAO inhibitors in the past. I’ve not tried psychedelics, unless you count my disastrous attempt to take a hit off a former coworker’s blunt that led me to feeling weird‒not in a good way‒and throwing up repeatedly for a few hours. I’m very nervous about psychedelics, because my mind is not my friend, and I don’t know what it might do to me. Anyway, I have no idea where I would even get psychedelics from, or even MDMA (which seems like it might be interesting, but is apparently neurotoxic).
I’ll try to try meditate, and who knows, maybe I’ll develop at least some insight and improvement. If I do, I imagine the character of this blog will change. That might be something to which my readers can look forward.
In any case, I work tomorrow, so in the shorter term, I will be writing some form of blog post tomorrow, barring the unforeseen. Don’t expect any real changes by then, of course. That would be almost ridiculous.
Dad and I are/were allergic to any form of cannabis. Got the same results as you did. Have you moved closer or into the house would never be a burden. I think you would probably be a blessing to me. I have a large lonely house. 5 bedrooms and just me and a chicken dog. So it would be gyti have you join us. The great mitten calls you home
Gyti should read as great. Fat fingers and small phone
Don’t worry, it’s all covfefe.