Sunday, November 2
The cold snap arrived today. The temperature in the house dropped to 60 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday night. I threw an additional blanket on the bed and this morning I have turned on the furnace. Winter, such as it is, here in California, has arrived, this despite the fact that daytime temperatures this week have been in the mid 70's.
I tried finishing Deida's book in the laundry. I got to within ten pages of the end. For the last fifty chapters, that moth-eaten Oriental mystic has been jerking me off. Within ten pages of the end of the book he actually says something useful: austerity and challenge. As shocking and thrilling as it was to find something really, really useful in that book, finally, after struggling through it, it was also horrifying. Deida has spent an entire book getting to the point that I did not, do not, want to face: that if I want things to change, I am going to have to confront Mr. Easy.
The thing that bothered me about Deida's book was his insistence on purpose, mission, what Deida calls "giving one's gift". I come from a long line of people who have, by their own admission, lacked or never appreciated having an overarching purpose to their lives. So, Deida's book hounds me, mocks me, because "purpose" runs through it like the spinal cord and it annoys me to know, or at least suspect, that something is wrong but not to accept knowing exactly what it is or how to get a handle on it.
I've only flirted with purpose in my life. I have involved myself in all sorts of projects and doings, in fits and starts, all my life but I have never considered my life to have had some overarching purpose. Why? It's Mr. Easy. Gerlach's site asks the question: "Who is Running Your Life?" I know who it is, now, in my case: Mr. Easy. He's one of Gerlach's "sub-personalities." Gerlach did not name him. He speaks of sub-personalities in terms of function: manager, hopeful child, procrastinator. Mr. Easy is my name for something in me, a sub-persona that has and has had quite a lot of voice in my psyche. I am beginning to understand what this has meant in my life.
What is Mr. Easy's modus operandi, his function? I'm not sure, exactly. He procrastinates, he advocates putting only "enough" effort out to accomplish the easiest payoff, in terms of value. He is something of a cynic or pessimist. He tells me that "too much" effort is futility. He tries to guard against frustration, disappointment, rejection. Gerlach says no sub-persona is evil. They all exist to answer various problems from our childhood that arose in traumas. I only know that Mr. Easy is pretty damned close to my core. He's been running a lot of things in my life, even more so than Ms. Reason. He runs things quite often, has shaped much of my course. I had not identified him as a personification until the last couple of weeks, but I am aware of the fact that he has always been down there, in my psyche. With apologies to the actor Morgan Freeman, I see him personified as Freeman's "Easy Reader" character from the old children's education television program "The Electric Company." Why? He's cool, nobody puts anything over on him, he takes no shit, and is an advocate of "taking it easy," and doing that which most pleases oneself, in a manner of speaking. That's my Mr. Easy in a nutshell.
This persona and its attitude and philosophical premise arose in childhood. I suspect that Mr. Easy came about from me being hectored about my potential and abilities and what everyone else in my life always thought should be my aims and ambitions, and how much effort I should be applying to those things. An IQ is a dangerous statistic. Mine was tested a couple of times at 160. That "score" followed me everywhere, like a haunt, during my formal educational years. My parents and teachers always pestering me about my "potential" and offering their opinions about how I was squandering that, and making demands that I satisfy their expectations. People were always telling me what they thought I should be doing. Mr. Easy was born as in an act of rebellion. I guess I discovered that, in as much as I could not stop people from presuming to gauge my potential and set my goals for me, I had entire control over how much effort I applied to pursing various ends. A man gets tired of hearing a litany of disappointments, especially from people whom he regards as being entitled to no input on the subject. I suppose that Mr. Easy is also the bastard child of futility, as well. It always seemed like I was prodded and cajoled to pursue goals that others wanted: teachers, my parents, relatives. I don't really think I was consulted about much in my early life, with respect to what interested me. My mother was always trying to "round me out" with various things she thought I "needed" or would be "good for me". Is it churlish to resent such things now, the dance and tumbling lessons, the groups of this and that into which I was wheedled, cajoled, and manipulated, when some of those things arguably contributed real value to my life, in hindsight, in ways I may not even understand? I don't know. I only know that I didn't always appreciate it at the time. I often felt manipulated, as a child, and I resented it. I hated being threatened or bribed or made to feel insecure in things I valued. I didn't like things being held over my head. I suppose Mr. Easy was/is about getting away with having my own way when people were/are trying to manipulate or coerce me. It almost feels like excuse-making to admit his existence. His is a child's strategy for dealing with the world. I suppose Mr. Easy is an effort to reject an external locus of control. The problem is, just adopting his methods and outlook is a tacit acceptance of certain aspects of the malign universe, beyond control of the individual. Parts of me, perhaps Mr. Easy, cringed whenever Deida would write of "giving one's gift." There is a part of me that does not want to give, that does not want to think of giving something away to "the world," that finds "the world" particularly unworthy of having anything of mine, that somehow feels that I have been too much in a position of having things taken from me by "the world."
Other feelings associated with Mr. Easy involve other kinds of futility. I learned the hard way that one cannot and does not make peace between two people who do not desire it. I learned that there are quite often times, awful things that one can see coming but there is nothing that can be done about it except to get out of the way as best you can. I learned that my expectations of people's actions is often at odds with my interpretations of what they profess to believe or what they say about what they are feeling or what they will do. I learned that "doing things" or "getting things" doesn't always change circumstances that bother you or situations you find upsetting. Mr. Easy has a tendency to protect me from frustration and disappointment by working to lower my expectations.
What does Mr. Easy tell me? He tells me to only do enough to make yourself satisfied and comfortable and don't spend anymore energy than is necessary to do that. He tells me that things will be taken away from me or held over my head, so it is better not to become attached from the outset. He tells me that things break, values become tarnished, or lost, or you find out that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting (to quote an old Star Trek episode). He tells me that it is silly to put in one hundred percent more effort for five percent more return. He tells me that my efforts for others won't matter to them nearly as much as I believe or perhaps hope that they will. He tells me that I cannot save people from themselves and so to be careful when trying to help. He tells me that my sense of satisfaction will not be as great as I anticipate and not worth the effort I expend and the frustration and perseverance it takes to accomplish something.
Mr. Easy's is a child's resentments of a world he cannot control or significantly influence. Mr. Easy is not really about doing what pleases me. Too many of my "parts" don't even know what that is, exactly, and have little idea of how to find out. No, Mr. Easy is about surviving and dealing with a world where one's influence is circumscribed and in the control of others. Consciously, as an adult, I reject the simplistic premise that the world is beyond control, that "all is vanity and a striving after wind," as the Book of Ecclesiastes would have us believe. I reject it consciously, but it is obvious that Mr. Easy is a sub-persona that incorporates that premise into his workings, down there in the subconscious. I suspect that, cross-polinating Gerlach with Rand, the "fissuring" of personality into sub-personae is a way of incorporating, or tentatively integrating, conflicting, contradictory premises that cannot logically be integrated, especially when one is not consciously aware of which premise is the true and which is the false, or maybe, what the proper synthesis of thesis and anti-thesis should be — one sub-persona integrates premise A and the other integrates premise B and this allows them to coexist in the individual without causing direct cognitive dissonance, even though premise A and B contradict each other or otherwise will not completely integrate without contradiction with other beliefs understandings and premises. The trick to better living, then, would be to find and integrate those premises, conclusions and beliefs that one finds to be true, and discard those that have not proven out. Mr. Easy would seem to be the holder, or exponent, of some premises that most of the rest of me reject. It makes very little sense, right now. It's just a feeling of which I have become vaguely aware. I am somewhat boggled to contemplate this. How can Mr. Easy be managed by my "True Self" when it would seem he is a reaction to being "over-managed" in the first place? How does one deal with a sub-persona with that kind of mission?
Monday, November 3
Monday at noon, I went on my walk. It encompasses a 3.70 mile loop that takes me about 70 minutes to complete. In better news, the walking becomes easier and easier now. My feet haven't blistered again and the left one is getting better. I can do the whole thing without getting worn out and I am losing weight. I'm down a few pounds and my pants are certainly fitting differently; I'm wearing my belt a couple of notches tighter to keep them up. Taking these noon walks gives me some time in the middle of the day to think. Monday, I was again thinking about various things related to the prior paragraphs when I asked myself the Gerlach questions, what I see, smell, hear, feel, think, need. I kind of hit the jackpot on feelings.
- hunger - love, companionship, the desire for someone about whom to care
- disgust - fleeting
Why anger? The waste and foolishness of some of the things that bedevil me appall me sometimes. I get angry about bad decisions. I get angry at realizations about things in my life that would have been helpful to have had much earlier. I get angry at my mistakes, my false starts, and failures.
I think the frustration is again a reaction to the waste: wasted time, wasted efforts, wasted emotion, wasted hopes. It is perhaps the state of being fatigued by desire, and the denial of desire, and the loss of desire. It is the futility of self-denial. I am frustrated by the idea that love has been difficult for me when it seems to fall into the laps of many others whom I would think have themselves together not as well as I do. It is also frustrating to realize that it is only my own choices that leave me in this situation. The only valid comparison is with oneself.
Fear and desperation are straightforward enough, in my estimation. I guess I am afraid of growing old alone and of dying. I suspect that the fear of mortality and the "scarcity thinking" of which Brené Brown writes are related. I got a lot of satisfaction out of being married. Having Crystal's company was, for the most part, far far better than being alone. Whatever else she was, my wife was good company, most of the time. It is sometimes hard to accept that the relationship did take a toll on me though, over time. Even when things were not going well between Crystal and I, I got a lot of "life satisfaction" out of supporting my family, of holding a job and making our lives comfortable and providing for food, shelter, education, entertainment, etc. for my wife and my children. I don't have that kind of satisfaction as directly in my life anymore. I still pride myself on being able to take care of my daughters and help them get ahead in the world, but even so, my home is empty of all but me. Part(s) of me are very desirous of having a mate again, a companion. As much as Molyneux annoys and offends me sometimes his podcasts and videos are often full of surprising and useful insights. He speaks truths, despite grandstanding like a carnival huckster. I listen, grudgingly. A few days ago, I was listening to one of his videos entitled "Somebody to Love." He pointed out something interesting in the Queen song: "Somebody to Love," namely, that the writer is yearning not for someone to love him, but to find someone to be the object of his affections.
13:45 God, find us somebody to love! This is why people turn to religion too. You can love Jesus. It is an outlet for thwarted love to turn it into the supernatural: to love ghosts and imagination and stories as if they are real. This is why people take refuge in comic books and superheroes: they're someone you can love, someone you can admire, someone you can respect, and the degree to which people around you are untrustworthy and abusive, and difficult and dangerous, and selfish and hurtful, is the degree to which your thwarted love will POUR into other things, dangerous things: nations and armies and sports, fettishes. The yearning to connect, if thwarted at home, pours into so many pyramids and receptacles essential to the powerlust of the greatest abusers. So I just...that hunger, that hunger...Oh God, find me somebody to love...I understand it.
For all that he is a respectable atheist, you never heard such revival-tent preaching...and yet...he is telling truths. Substitutes. We find substitutes for the connections and other values we don't have or believe we cannot get. I was doing it, finding substitutes, video-games, porn, movies, social-networking distractions. I'm pretty sure none of those rises to the level of true "addiction," but I did indulge in such things heavily, and to the detriment of all efforts at living real life. I miss connection. I miss it more so, lately. It is hard to be awake again, to such a thing and not have it. Just to care about someone again, not just children or parents, but someone who was potentially a partner, a companion, a mate...that's awfully powerful. I've missed that for a long time. We need to find our values in others, to experience that involuntary reaction to encountering things we value embodied in someone else. The need to admire and cherish can be greater than the need to be admired or cherished. I understand what Molyneux is saying there. Earlier, he was talking about what the withholding of connection from children can do to people as they grow. I picked up some unfortunate baggage as a child but I wasn't especially deprived of nurture. Nevertheless, I can see what it does to people when they are warped by such deprivation. Earlier, Molyneux had pointed out:
12:19 The withholding of connection is the instilling of a vampyric hunger. Vampyres are the metaphor for that kind of isolation, as childhood. They can't see themselves in the mirror, there's no reflection, they can't stand the light of day, they operate in darkness, they manipulate, they're physically attractive, and they live by feeding off of others. I'm not putting YOU in this category at all; I'm simply pointing out that everybody looks at how harmed the child is but I think people miss most often, what can in many ways harm the child the most, which is just not having the chance to love someone, which is in many ways, the greatest height of human happiness: to love someone or something.
His verbal stumbling in that quoted paragraph is very interesting. This is nailing something close to the bone in Molyneux. He's kind of flustered and it shows in his verbal fumbling. He's talking about children being more wounded by being denied the opportunity to love, than being denied the opportunity of being loved. I have to wonder which is, in fact, worse, but it is a fascinating distinction to contemplate. I hadn't, previously. At any rate, I do occasionally experience the fear and desperation at the prospect of not having connection again in my life. It has been a long time already. I worry how long it will take me to find connection with someone. I worry that I will get old, that I won't have it while both my partner and I are truly able to enjoy it fully. I worry over the prospect of just getting older alone, of dying alone. It's not necessarily a rational fear. I am trying to get myself into the strength and stamina of character that will enable me to better seek and find the values I'm wanting, but still, desire is not entirely something that stems from thought; it is a response to the presence or absence of values we cherish and want to have. Desire does not wait; it just is. It is important that desire not become a consuming "vampyric hunger." I've seen that before in various people. It's rather bizarre, where it is not pathetic. They get some sub-persona in the driver seat, some deprived child persona that wants only results and is blind to the substance of what love is. Attraction is wonderful, but that is all it is if it is not mutual, if there is not an ongoing exchange of spiritual value. I've understood that for quite a long time. It is important to accept attraction when it is available, and accept the situation when it is not there, or when it goes away.
I don't blame L. for running. I blame her for some of the ways she handled things, the choices she made, which were almost certainly the product of her own problematical sup-personae, but those were her issues, not mine. She cannot help what she feels. My contribution to things not flying was being a walking battlefield. Who wants that? I felt bad about my foolish conflicts and baggage. We are advised by the gurus of better living that we need to accept ourselves for who we are, but does that mean complacency? If it does not, then if one is not satisfied where does that leave one in terms of self-acceptance? Every now and then I do feel pangs of disgust with myself. They don't tend to last long, but they do trouble me occasionally. I get to thinking that I am "not enough" of something or other. I get to wishing that I had more wisdom, more courage, a stronger character, more empathy, better insights, a better grasp of my human opportunities. It's hard to wrestle with that, sometimes.
I don't know where all of that came from, all of a sudden. I was just out walking, a mile or so into things, and it occurred to me to pull that pop-quiz on myself and it surprised me that answers came so readily. It usually doesn't work that way. Usually, when I ask, I just become aware of the feeling of tiredness in my legs, or blisters hurting on my feet, or sweat trickling on my back, the breeze on my arms, something superficial. Most of the time, emotionally, I'm feeling rather "neutral." It' not numbness, per se, but it is a lack of feeling anything particularly strong or distinct. I was surprised to kind of catch myself off guard the way I did, or at least catch myself at some opportune moment. It really makes me wonder, is it only the persistence in asking oneself what one is feeling that promotes such results? Do things get easier with practice, in this case? If this keeps up, to what kind of changes might this lead? Is this something, some kind of progress, or is it wishful thinking? It felt real. When I asked myself what i was feeling I got a sense of clarity all of a sudden. Things just came to me and I could identify them for what they were. Is this the product of doing all this reading or is it rather that I am trying to put some of it into practice? Questions. I have those. I am not sure whom to ask or what to consult for answers. I suppose I should just keep questioning, keep experimenting, and see what happens. I have the suspicion that when changes do come they will be subtle and gradual. As much as some of that outpouring on the walk was kind of disturbing, it did leave me satisfied to have these emotions and reactions come to the metaphorical surface where I could experience them and be aware of them. It is a different course of action to focus on what I am feeling, as opposed to what I am thinking.
Working through some of this self-help stuff definitely takes some time and effort. Monday night I ran into an exercise on Gerlach's site that surprised me. It wasn't that the exercise was discussing anything outside of my experience or anything particularly esoteric. Actually, the topic of the thing was pretty old hat: assessing one's self-regard or self-love. This is not something with which I consider myself to have a whole lot of problem. I succumb to the habit of denigrating and disrespecting myself occasionally, as I think most people do, once in awhile in their lives, but I don't think I've ever been consistently down on myself or consistently felt that I was unworthy of love and affection. It is nevertheless interesting to consider that frequency is relative. When one has a healthy sense of self-respect one would think that instances of self-castigation or self-denigration are much rarer than in people who do not have a robust love of themselves. So, finding this particular line of inquiry, I decided to give it a try just to see what happened. The objective and the instructions were pretty straightforward:
Do you agree that "You can't love another until you love yourself? If this is true, our rampant U.S. divorce epidemic implies that many or most adult Americans don't love themselves enough. Could you define "human love" clearly to an inquiring space tourist? To get clearer on if and how well you currently love (vs. "like" or "respect") yourself, try this safe exercise:
Get comfortable and quiet, and close your eyes. Breathe well, and think of and/or picture the genetically-unrelated adult you love "the most." S/He may be male or female, young or old, living or dead, and nearby or distant. Try saying out loud the traits and behaviors that cause your love. Include how you usually feel when you're with her or him.
Now imagine standing before a full-length mirror. Gaze at the image in the mirror, and ask "How do I generally feel about this person now?" Do I love her or him as much as I do the one I love the most (above)?" Notice your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Stay with the exercise until you feel "done." Options: journal about what the experience was like, and/or discuss it with others you trust. If you have a partner, ask him or her to try the exercise, and discuss it.
Survivors of a low-nurturance childhood often enter adulthood feeling excessive shame — a quenchless feeling of unlovability, worthlessness, and self-disgust. This has been so common in life that it feels normal. Often, shame-based people (i.e. the subselves that govern their personality) unconsciously choose others like themselves as companions and workmates.
Do I agree that, "You can't love another until you love yourself?" Yes. One must have a standard of value in order to love. That standard of value is one's own self. If you don't value yourself you have no standard, no grounds for evaluation of the values embodied in others. I agree with the Objectivists: love is an involuntary response to one's own values embodied in someone else. You can choose your standards, if you apply conscious effort to do so; you cannot choose your response to finding those values in another. That's certainly a source of a lot of the hurt in love, when it is not reciprocated, when it is mistaken, or when one's standards are conflicted. Sorting all of that out consciously is certainly not easy.
I had/have a problem with thinking of and picturing the genetically-unrelated adult that I love the most. That's actually difficult for me. Certainly there are people in that category that I have loved and for whom I have a considerable affection. Can I pick one of them as being someone I love "the most"? Whom do I admire? Whose values resonate with mine? I have no problem identifying values in others, when I see those values. I have no problem with feeling affection for people, even love. Where's the problem with picking someone for the experiment then? Are there people in my life, outside of family, whom I really love? Where does admiration shade into love? Certainly I can have admiration for people like Mises, or August Landmesser, but these people, and others like them of whom I am aware, are abstractions, with relation to me. They are, to my personal experience, instances of value, exemplars to be contemplated, but not knowing personally, the members of this category, would seem to draw a sharp distinction between "mere admiration" and what people mean when they use the label, love. One cannot legitimately use the word "love" in a context where one does not know the person "in the flesh," or at least have some sort of personal experience of them. There are plenty of valuable traits and character strengths in the people I call friends. Are any of them really close to me? Can I use the word "love" to describe the feelings for these people? Well, they're much closer than strangers, but is there anyone who is particularly "close" to me now? I haven't spoken to Will, whom I would consider one of my best childhood friends, in more than a year. That doesn't change or lessen the depth of the friendship I feel for him; we just haven't had a lot to say to one another. How "close" is that? Is that "love?" Is there something missing in my understanding of the essential characteristics of the concept of love? More problematical: what about people for whom I have felt a very strong attraction and affection, admiration, desire? It's a problem. What of the people with whom I have shared what can undeniably be identified as intimacy? The problem is not that they do not exist but that the connection has not been persistent, has not endured, however much affection I may hold for them. I have affection and admiration and I can feel "love" about any number of people, quite readily, in fact, but that doesn't mean I have all that much connection with the people in that category. Is that strange, or problematical? I'm thinking of people like Crystal, or L. I would have no problem whatsoever laying out a list of virtues and qualities that inspire and attract me in either of these women. Hell, in each case, I will stand by the assessment that we have shared genuine intimacy in our associations. I can think and contemplate all the desirable qualities that move me about either of these two women. It's effortless for the most part. I have only to reflect and "experience" them in my thoughts. I can see, can identify with clear, certain language the things about them that inspire my own psyche, that evoke admiration and affection. Hell, I've made notes in both of the cases in question, where I have pondered the values and virtues of these two individuals, just to examine and understand the source of my affection and love in each case. In each case, these are people about whom I've come to genuinely care. The thing is, they have their flaws as well, and in my personal experience, those flaws would seem to preclude, or pretty much have precluded, a successful, continuing relationship of emotional intimacy with them. That leaves me feeling vaguely uneasy or tinged with disappointment. Can what I feel for either of them still be called "love"? If it can, what does one call love with successful and enduring intimate connection? If what I experience now in response to them can't logically be identified with the label "love" then what does fit? If L. is not a fitting object of this exercise then who in my experience is? I've had a wife I loved, girlfriends, potential partners, whatever it is/was I can call my lovely but strange association with L. I can't think of any continuing personal connection with anyone fitting the "love" description right now though. Is that weird? Is it a problem? To experience the apparent discrepancy between what Gerlach's exercise would seem to be describing and my own experience is rather disconcerting, but should it be? Is it a case of mistaken impressions or am I missing something here? I just can't get past this point in the exercise. I'm kind of stuck...and confused.
Tuesday, November 4
Today everyone at work received news that Vladimir left the company. He was previously the manager of the projects encompassing our whole user-interface system and in-house software tools. He'd been there longer than I have been with the company. With Vladimir and Tracy both leaving the company a lot of expertise has walked out the door in a short period of time. It makes me wonder why they left. It makes me wonder what kind of effort was made by management to retain their services.
My boss offered me Vladimir's cube, or alternatively, a few others that might be better, being closer to the windows and at the end of rows where the passing foot traffic is less frequent. Do I want to move? It seems like a bunch of effort to expend and an interruption of work I could be doing to move my cube to a better location. I'll have to think about it. I'm not sure that I am all that dissatisfied with where I am presently located.
I felt better, on my walk today, more centered and confident. I didn't get a flood of anything in particular when I assessed how I was feeling. Things were mostly "neutral," but I was pleased to be out in the sunshine and enjoying the fresh air. The whole way, my Internal DJ was entertaining me with a march we had invented out of snippets and phrases of other music.
I found myself thinking about an Interesting dynamic with regard to what happened between L. and I. I get to missing her, and of course, missing the way that I felt in her company. I don't think I ever had a disagreement with her, when we were talking in real-time. All of our disagreements occurred in correspondence, I have just realized. That's interesting. At any rate, that aside, I had become accustomed to seeing her, hearing her voice, talking on Skype about this and that for longer than it was best for either of our sleep requirements. Despite the regrettable logistics of our respective baggage, she was a joy to entertain in conversation. I find myself still experiencing pangs of withdraw from that.
When I do experience these withdraw pangs, there is some part or parts of me that speak up and admonish me to "let her go." Crazily enough, this admonishment is always followed by a counter-admonishment (by other parts, perhaps) to the effect that there is nothing and nobody to "let go." I have no hold on anything or anyone. It's out of my hands. My second group of "perceptual correctors" point out the facts thusly: "She told me that her feelings for me had changed and did not refrain from pointing out all the ways in which I really didn't measure up to her ideal cup of tea. I told her goodbye, when she wouldn't stop. She promptly left and burned whatever obvious digital bridges connected us. The only real course of action open to us (meaning me and my parts) is to merely accept the fact that she is gone." It's funny, how all these subparts interact. I would have been mostly oblivious to this kind of inner dynamic before but now I notice things like this all the time. I'm wondering how long this particular dynamic is going to continue and what the issues are in this "inner discussion." Obviously, some of these inner parts are putting a higher priority on the feelings: those who miss her, and some are trying to acquire some closure and finalization: those of the "let her go" crowd, and some seem pretty damned eager to ensure that we remain cognizant of the facts of the matter: it is not a question of "letting go" but accepting what is. Acceptance is a process of circular thinking, or more accurately, spiral thinking. One must keep going over the same ground, around and around, until the required realizations are internalized. Eventually, things will settle out and the topic won't occupy my thoughts anymore.
The IC2000 Product Launch Celebration Dinner is next Wednesday evening and I have no guest to bring — par for the course. I have spent quite a large portion of my life alone or at least unaccompanied. I'm wondering how many other people will be attending this party with a companion. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.
I have no business, as yet, if ever, reopening a conversation with L., even if it does involve the fact that she may be the only person I know with whom I could talk about something I encountered. I see stuff like that, things that I figure only she would really appreciate or understand, now and then, still, stuff I would want to share with her. Tuesday night, I saw an article that was positively horrifying. Some guy was writing about his grandmother, and of coming to suspect that she had been poisoning people over the course of years that the author had known her. It was shocking to consider, how much children can normalize. I saw that and thought of L. There aren't many people that I know who understand the ramifications when I talk about children normalizing profound dysfunction. People don't see it. Hell, I hadn't given it much thought, myself, before I started talking to her. I read that article and just the magnitude of the phenomenon hit me like a brick. Not funny at all. I wanted to share it with her, talk about it. I managed to resist the urge. It wasn't easy. Entanglement is messy. She's still up there, in my head. I see things like a Thomas More quote:
The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: the soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don't want a paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don't have a soul.
and I wanted to share that, too, because I know that she would understand it and appreciate it, might be pleased by it, or touched. Parts of me do not seem to understand the situation here. Are they besotted with sentiment, distorting reality, late to the party? Did they not get the memo that she is gone? I don't know. I've never claimed to be an expert in feelings, but I have come to understand that it takes time for some inner-parts to come around and be convinced by what is, as opposed to what they would desire.
Wednesday, November 5
Got a phone call this morning in the car. My next door neighbor, Jeannette, told me that her husband, Jim, had died Sunday morning. She was calling because she had a large collection of paper files that she no longer needed and that she wanted to recycle and she was asking if I could let her share my recycling bin to handle the excess. I told her that I was sorry to hear it. She said he died peacefully. I guess that is worth something. Poor Jeannette has no mate now. I feel sorry for her. I suppose it would be harder to live with someone for years and years and grow old with them and then lose them. She's not used to living alone. I know what it's like to live in a house one used to share with someone else. She and her husband have lived next door to me since I moved to the neighborhood. I'm planning to get her a card, probably tomorrow. It's hard to figure out what to say in these things, sometimes, until I think about it. Life does not play fair.
The Wednesday walk is brought to me by the feeling of anger. I was feeling angry about the smug condemnations and labelings of voting advocates who could not be bothered to learn that there are plenty of principled reasons to not participate in corrupt democracy or a system that is, at its root, in fundamental contradiction with itself. These people would be the ones posting all over FB about how much of a duty people have to vote and how anyone who doesn't is merely lazy. Yeah. Is that the root of what is bothering me today?
About midway through the walk, my friend, Tom, was driving down Fifth Street near Target, when he saw me walking and pulled over to talk to me. He was recently removed from the position of executor of his deceased "girlfriend's" estate. This, mostly at the instigation of a lawyer who was supposedly representing him and the estate, which certainly looks like conflict of interest to me. The court has been siding with the lawyer, naturally, which I would call contemptible behavior on the part of a jurist. Double-dealing and corruption: why wouldn't anyone be angry? Add it to the list of injustices to consider.
As my walk continued, and I reflected on the anger, I came to realize something that I was resenting in the behavior of both L. and Stefan Molyneux. It is not the problem that they judge. A fan or fellow traveler of Rand would be the last person to fault any person for exercising judgment. No, it is not the judgment, in and of itself, that is the problem, it is that they each presume to put on a robe and park their butts on the bench of someone else's court and presume to express contempt for the judgments of that court. Molyneux imperiously and manipulatively tells his caller: "Oh no! You do not get to use that word [love] that way! I use that word with my daughter and my wife..." I have no problem with someone objecting to someone's semantics, or even their philosophy, but to imperiously spout such a decree at someone in the context he did is beyond the pale, in my book, even if I agree with the substance of his objection. What he was doing was not an argument, it is brow-beating and question-begging, not to mention manipulating the discussion through emotion. That's not reasoning one's way to agreement; that is psychologically coercing capitulation. It's dishonest, at worst, naive or ignorant, at best. It's double-dealing, a conflict of interest between "helping" someone else, and catering to one's own conceits, evasions, and self-regard. He's playing for an audience. I realize that the same problem, that of having someone else presume to preside at my bench, manifested in some of my interactions with L. She just couldn't resist putting on her robes, sitting down at the bench in my court and expressing her disagreement with my internal jurisprudence. As time passed, I have come to realize that she was less interested in being an open and objective questioner. She'd decided that she had made a mistake in becoming emotionally entangled with me and that certainly colored her decisions about how to relate to me. It wasn't fair, but there is a reason why the saying "All is fair in love and war," exists. She couldn't help what she was feeling. Objectivity and empathy are difficult enough under the best of circumstances. When one is battling one's own uncertainty and facing doubt and self-disapproval then objectivity and empathy become orders of magnitude harder to maintain. I am reminded of an old Samsonite Luggage commercial, wherein airport baggage handlers behind the scenes of the airport baggage check counter were portrayed as gorillas, who abused the luggage in their charge. The commercial was humorously trying to show how the Samsonite brand held up under abuse. We have to be careful when handling each other's baggage, and retain grace, civility, empathy, objectivity...easy ideals to endorse, not quite so easy to implement and live in the practice. Am I angry still? Yes, it's still needling me to deal with it and "process it." I need to accept some things. I did pursue her, even when she was offering me objections to that course of action. I did ask for her advice. It was me who entertained the idea that she might be able to share some useful experience with me, but then I thought, given what she had written on OKStupid, we were both interested in pursuing that idea, the sharing of insights. I did open myself up to her. It was a calculated investment. Not all investments work out the way we think they will. I need to come to terms with the idea that it is OK to be angry and it is OK to be disappointed, and that I can feel these things without also having to feel that she is a bad person, or somehow "defective." She isn't; we just disagree about some things.
So, anger is for setting boundaries. I guess the point is to be very very careful whom you solicit for advice, and once you do, watch your boundaries. Evaluate carefully and communicate clearly when enough is enough and I have reached the point where the other person and I are just going to have to agree to disagree. Better communication skills. Gerlach has a lesson on that, if I can ever work my way through things to the point where I can begin assimilating that information.
It was a rather hectic day. I met with Tom at the Peets Coffee in the Nob Hill grocery again to discuss the gold mine financing project with which we've been playing. There is something wrong with the WiFi network there. Tom seemed to have no trouble getting logged in with his laptop, but I could not get mine to connect to the internet nor could I get my phone to do so. That was kind of frustrating.
When I got home, I hadn't eaten all day. I threw a couple of frozen entrees in the microwave and Lisa called me again. If I ever need evidence of how messed up life can get without actually killing you, I must say I have a rich environment in which to shop for exemplary lessons. My cousin is trying to get into graduate school, and was scandalized that one actually had to apply to get accepted. Her graduate admissions process requires an essay, outlining her strengths and weaknesses. I suspect that it's going to weed her out, but I would be hesitant to write my cousin off prematurely — the woman has an admirable persistence. I'm actually pretty proud of her for what she has demanded of herself and managed to get out of life. You have to respect people who do rise to hard challenges and best them. She has certainly done that despite the disadvantages presented to her by her own "wounds". After grilling me about her character faults and foibles, the talk shifted to her haunted house, i.e. the house she bought that she believes to be haunted. I find myself heaving a sigh just to type that previous sentence. Poor Lisa is entirely consumed with her superstitions. She bought that house because she feared that in her divorce she wouldn't end up in a place of her own that would enable her to raise her daughters. It was not the most wisely considered purchase, and the place has a few problems having nothing to do with ectoplasm. More than likely, the mortgage is also taxing her finances. So...she became convinced that the house is haunted. I think that subconsciously, she is looking for some excuse, no matter how implausible, to justify writing the place off as a bad decision and selling it, even at a loss. She spends way more energy than she should, trying to convince me of her supernatural worldview, not comprehending the differences in our fundamental premises that will entirely prevent that from happening.
After Lisa called, my mom called and filled me in on Dad's blood pressure getting whacked around by something. He drank a Coke and it just went really high for some reason or other. He got dizzy, went and lay down for awhile but that didn't help very much. When he sat up, the room started spinning again and he got sick and threw up. I would have rather they called the hospital or the doctor at that point, but my mother said they were planning to sleep on things and go to the doctor tomorrow. It didn't sound good.
Thursday, November 6
Fifth Street is brought to me today by the feeling "dawning realization." On my walk this afternoon, I got to thinking about the anger I was feeling yesterday. I wasn't feeling the anger itself today, per se. rather I was feeling curious and introspective about yesterday's anger feeling. It was rooted in unfairness, injustice. Were L.'s assessments unjust? The better question is, what exactly does it matter if they were? Even if I were to presume that her assessments were the product of the fears of her own inner-children, and her actions the product of various inner-defenders to protect those inner-kids, and not the product of calm, objective, rational consideration, what does that have to do with what I was feeling? Was she acting from malice? No. I don't think that's in her, in this context. I don't think she could help getting entangled with me. I think she was being as honest as she knew how to be. Is that injustice? No. Objectivity and fairness are not entirely the same thing. Whereas I may believe her objectivity could be called to question, that is not to say that she was being unfair or purposefully deceitful. So, why the anger? I believe the circumstances are not fair, but to say that implies a belief in a kind of cosmic justice to which an appeal may be made. There isn't any. That may be frustrating, but it does no good and makes no sense to be angry about it. Nevertheless, I did not wish to feel the sadness that arose from the circumstances. I guess I am angry about that, the circumstances, and the hurt they provoked. The assessments that L. made did hurt, but were they intended to do so? Well...I do believe that one or more of her own frustrated inner-children were lashing out, at some points in our association. She has as much as indirectly admitted as much elsewhere in our correspondence. It fits a pattern. Even so, children often act more from ignorance than from malice. I think most of her other parts just wanted to be understood and did not wish to hurt my feelings, may even have convinced themselves that they were "doing me good." To fault them for their feelings is itself injustice. On top of this, if I believe myself to have been looking into a fun-house mirror, it is only I who gave the reflection credence. I may hold that her inner parts, for whatever reason, desired to "blowtorch me" (her term) and search diligently for weakness, but was it her fault to have found some weaknesses in me? No. I can be angry at myself for that. It is almost certain that she would pick at a John Galt, if he would tolerate it. Something in her seems to look for reasons that validate her pessimism about the prospect of intimacy with a man, but the key thing of which to be aware is what I made of it. I have no choice about what she does or feels; I have quite a lot of agency with regard to what I do and feel. I can be angry about that, the neglected realization of this, but that is nothing that should be directed to her. Her devils may have bitten me, but she is the one who has to live with them. They are the creatures of ignorance, at best, self-deception, at worst, not malice. I guess I can hold her responsible for her actions, and what I might consider to be her evasions but even so, that is merely my subjective assessment. If I am angry, what positive step(s) did I take to address that? Did I get good results and improve circumstances for myself? I'm not exactly "made of win" in this situation. It makes sense that I would be angry about that.
It's been one month today. I figure that it will be about three, before I can finish cleaning some of this stuff up, but that is just a guess or a hunch. It's intuition talking. I'm still pretty confused and conflicted. The feelings are crazily tangled. I am determined not to be too distressed or impatient about this. Patience is required, I think. I am determined to just let my internal conflicts play out how they will and observe carefully. I can't say I'm not learning. With some of the things I have picked up, I think I have a few new insights in watching what goes across my inner landscape. The back and forth traffic through my mind is heavy.
This evening, in the car on the way home from work, I was thinking about the back and forth debate going on in my head. Was this thing a good thing for me, a bad thing? Are my criteria questionable or valid? Where were the best choices made and where the questionable ones? What things about her was I right to find appealing and about which things was I wrong? Which feelings that I experience are rooted in real existence and which in mistaken premises? What do I feel about that woman? The hard-line parts have been debating the soft-line parts for a month. It is funny to think of myself playing referee between them, but I suppose I am aware that I am, having read Gerlach. I called her to mind deliberately and observed. I wanted to know how I would react this evening. It does no good to attempt to shove the whole issue into a closet and bar the door. It won't work, so, if this be treason, then make the most of it, as they say. I called her to mind and tried to figure out who was hard-line and who was soft-line. Where did DJ stand? I asked. George Benson: "Give Me the Night" flooded into my head and dragged a whole collection of associations and memory with it. Hmm. DJ is one of the soft-liners, that's pretty obvious. That's not surprising. I remember calling L. one evening and hearing the Benson song playing in her room. It touched me. I don't know why, exactly. Was it just the fact that the song is one of my favorites? Now the experience of that call is a memory, and linked with long chains of association with all sorts of other pleasant experiences connected to L., the feelings, the emotions. This stuff requires no effort to tap, requires no deep thinking or probing or introspection, but I guess it does require conscious effort to open myself to it and be aware and identify. Essentially though, like another cool song has it: "all I have to do is dream." The willingness is enough. The soft-liners are not exactly a minority party among my inner directors. In my mind's eye I saw her sitting there in her bed listening to the Benson tune, as I did that evening. It was as clear as five minutes ago. Why did that particular image become ingrained so deeply? I don't know. I marveled at how easily she comes to mind. I can still see in a memory from a call earlier in our association, that face, that expression she got when she was thinking about dancing, when she called up that inner-persona who expresses herself in joyful motion. That image is burned into my cortex beyond expunging. Even her serious face, when she puts on her reading glasses and starts thinking about something, is there, can be experienced, still pulls. It would be the height of stupidity to deny that her expressions move me. Those shocking blue eyes of hers, so easy to see in my mind, no picture required. I've seen eyes like that before, eyes that shock the senses and move the viewer. They're not common, in my experience. Was it wise to indulge the soft-liners? Why not? I give the hard-liners plenty of hearing. I've given myself three months, of which two are left, wherein I will indulge my feelings positive or negative, and try to sort them out. Who knows, maybe tomorrow will be the morning of the first day in a long time that I wake up and don't think about her at all that day. We'll see. Only time will tell.
This is a time for cleaning up things. Deida's final chapter really impressed me as offering valuable advice, finally. I really don't have an overarching purpose to my life. I suspect that there is better meaning to be had out of my life, if I but could find such a thing. Deida's prescription for those who are out of touch with purpose is austerity. In chapter 50 he writes:
But for men who have lost their sense of purpose, who don’t know what their life is about, or who have trouble aligning their life with their truth, singing and dancing aren’t the remedy. The cure for lack of purpose is to be challenged to live at your edge, since you have lost the capacity to live there by yourself. The two ways to bring you right to your masculine edge of power are austerity and challenge. Austerity means to eliminate the comforts and cushions in your life that you have learned to snuggle into and lose wakefulness. Take away anything that dulls your edge. No newspapers or magazines. No TV. No candy, cookies, or sweets. No sex. No cuddling. No reading of anything at all while you eat or sit on the toilet. Reduce working time to a necessary minimum. No movies. No conversation that isn’t about truth, love, or the divine.
Deida, David (2004-10-01). The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire (p. 191). Sounds True. Kindle Edition.
Yeah, well... I've already thrown out the MMORPG's. Canceling Warcraft and Rift wasn't particularly hard to do. No more porn browsing and onanism. I had previously cut way back on that; I guess I can try cold turkey, now, for awhile — it's the season for that. Anyway, no more junk food and snacks, as well. I've had OKStupid deactivated for months now. Maybe I'll re-write my profile, before I turn it back on next year. I'm thinking of updating my LJ one as well. I guess I need to declare a moratorium on FB again, while I am at it. Cutting out the snacks and junk food already has my weight dropping, as noted. For the next two months, when I'm home, I'm working directly to improve either my environment or my psyche and not indulging anything else. I'm cutting the superfluous distractions I could indulge when I'm not home as well. Let's see where that gets me. Will not merely having distraction make it easier to find purpose? I'll see what happens; I really don't know. Frankly, I'm skeptical. In the first place, the Force is strong with Mr. Easy. I am a master at amusing and entertaining myself, even in the face of severe resource constriction. I always have been. I have a lot of imagination. It might be good to see if privation can upset his game. In the second...well, I think I need more knowledge than what I presently have, so I'm not throwing out Gerlach. He's not exactly what I would call escapist reading anyway. He definitely falls under the category of self-improvement. He's produced some pretty interesting insights so far. I would suspect that he has plenty more to show me, if I can make sense of him. Deida seems to write as if a few weeks are plenty of time to get at least a few good results. I have no idea what is going to come of this but I know that I am of a mind to find out.