Let not demons linger
Doubt not your inner-strength
Heed your natural patterns
And another’s love shall find thee.
Inspiration, oh inspiration, where art thou?
This is the crassest of creations – a writing about writing thing. I hope it will go somewhere productive.
Already the nature of inspiration is being questioned. It sounds like a think separate from us, passing through us: I have become inspired.
In moments of uninspiration, then, is inspiration not there?
I feel that inspiration of all things should be the final nail in the coffin of intellectual property; the person who wrote the something doesn’t truly know where the idea came from. They were but a conduit, or a node, of inspiration.
Good habits and writing discipline will sure make things flow out more easily. But when the well is dry, it is truly dry.
Creativity itself is under attack in the society of the Pound Stirling. If something has no utility on the market, it is child’s play, or a mere hobby. Things need to be created to be sold.
I have no inspiration to make things for sale. The smith forges a hundred tools and throws them over his shoulder. Let whoever finds them, find them.
Nothing should be done unless it is what one wishes to do. We all have core beliefs, and we all have the capacity to override or live up to those core beliefs. Every day millions toil in servitude to sustain a machine they neither understand nor care for. I don’t want my inspiration to come at the expense of their souls, nor mine.
My inspiration is antagonistic. Not always, but often. Force has to come from somewhere.
The most prevalent and obvious source is all around us – the depravity so taken for granted by so many. This is a vice closing around the soul, and one that we must all collectively and individually strive to avoid being crushed by.
I have no inspiration today. Not to play music, nor to continue my great works. These things are in truth beyond my ability to grasp. That is why they are like magick; mana from the immanent heavens.
They will come back again, or they won’t. It is ok either way. Something always comes to fill the void.
Rather then lament the lack of inspiration, it is better to see it as the Winter of the soul. Even the muses and the naiads and the fey need to rest.
I am getting better. Much better. When the trouble first hit, and the storm first raged inside, I had no idea what it would feel like to recover.
It kinda just, goes away.
Therapy helps a lot. CBT dealt showed me how to deal with panic disorder once and for all, and psychotherapy is like uncovering the jewels of my soul one by one, week by week. But I feel also that time has played a role in healing.
The worst days get further and further behind you. Regular days gradually get easier to manage. Sometimes you fall back into anxiety, but it is never as bad as the first time. It can never be that bad, now I am no longer ignorant.
Whereas I was once all dedicated to intellectual and artistic matters, now I am much more grounded and healthy. I have to go out and breathe free air! I have to see people and perform in public places. My entire self is getting more well. I am learning to open the gates of self-love; the portal into the aether of natural power available to all of us. These are all big firsts.
One thing that helped me a lot was re-reading what my old, frightened self wrote. Another is to listen to the songs that my old, frightened self heard. They are like waystones; I can portal back to the first time they truly touched my soul. When I listen to them now, I realize how much I have gained in strength and understanding.
Getting better is inevitable if you try to treat yourself well, and listen to your deepest needs. Beautiful natural places assist in this healing, although nature is the ‘background’, humans are the ‘foreground’.
I will not get complacent and stretch myself too thin. Nor will I be overly cautious and miss out on life. But I have one shield now I never had before. No matter how bad it gets, I know that eventually it goes away. I have so many more defences than before, and am so much more in touch with the roots of my soul.
What do I want?
What do I really, really want?
Do I want a, want a, want a, want, zigga-zigga uh?
No. That would be nonsensical and ridiculous; a post-modern maze best avoided. I know I don’t want that.
So what do I want?
I have wanted many things in this crisis-year, but mostly one thing. A place to belong. A safe place, a nurturing place, a place free from pressure, a place full of life, energy and respect. This has conflicted with another thing I wanted – the freedom to explore, to travel light as a feather, and the danger of adventure.
Conflicting things, which require a balance to attain. An impossible equation I nonetheless strive to solve.
Everything has pros and cons. Yes, even the direst material circumstances has some pros, even if there are much greater cons. And even the most privileged of all people have cons to their privileged life. Weighing up what we truly want means accepting pros and cons, and choosing the right option for us at the time. But in the desiring part of my soul, that desire is pure. It wants the best and it wants it all. In a sense, it is an overachiever and a dreamer!
Expectations are high. Nothing else will do.
What do I really want? How can I know when I have found it?
I am in the fortunate position to be semi-amorphous, so I can try things .
Advice: Don’t say you want to be somewhere until you have been there. Go there, go away. Do you want to go back? Listen to your gut feelings, let your inner-guide show you the way.
What do I want, if anything at all?
There is such a thing as self-delusion.
There is such a thing as rationalizing-away the real world.
There is such a thing as falsehood.
I find that the deep truth of what I want lurks in the shadow-realm of the subconscious. Symbols can take me into those stygian depths with disturbing regularlity – fascinations and fetishes beyond the ‘light’ of the conscious mind.
Often these symbols have been quite erotic and amourous in nature, but there is no love in my life and never has been.
It is all a mystery. Do not put too much faith in the study of the mind, nor the answers of the sages.
What you are is an enigma, and always will be. Necessarily – your consciousness has elements unique only to you, which can be experienced only through you. Even in moments of absolute subsumation and connection with another consciousness, you return to yours, and you experience the loss of ego through your own self. That self will dissipate only on the occasion of death.
The beauty of life is that it is beyond explanation (though art and poetry might come close to getting a feel for its sublimity).
So what you are, like what you want, lurks in this shifting realm of the delightfully unknowable. So best to choose something, and see how it works.
There is no perfect answer, so delight in the imperfection of being human as a human being.
‘Yeah I’m going on holiday after this work season finishes. Then I will return to my productive labours at the office. How about you Tim? What are you doing with yourself’? asked William.
‘Oh…I’m currently “between jobs”.’
William looked at him with a slight edge of disdain. Tim wished he could shrink and vanish into a crack in the pavement.
A large source of my anxiety and self-worth problems have historically come from the w-word.
I used to do not do it much. Not doing it much was not very good for my soul, which vegetated in front of the computer, or in front of blank, white walls. At around the age of twenty-three, I stopped playing computer games or staring at walls, and started being more creative. A little bit every day – of writing, music, and game design. I remember a quite specific moment when this rhythm started to sink in. Even though a lot of the writing and creativity didn’t go anywhere, and wasn’t cohesive, creating something every day gave me some direction, self-worth and helped hone my skills.
This ‘work ethic’ is still with me today. However, it is not so useful as it once was. When you are creating things for the necessity of filling some ego-void, it is very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. The work is not always directed toward any goal, and small accumulation doesn’t always get you anywhere.
Doing tiny bits of work every day is like building a sand-castle, where every time you add a bucketful of sand, half a bucketful has been lost to the laws of entropy, decayed and misshapen. Little efforts day by day won’t always get you anywhere. Stepping away from the sand-castle, you can reconsider how it is going, or see it from different perspectives. You could even say fuck this sand-castle, and go do something else!
It is deeply neurotic to feel a severe compulsion to do things. There are days when you cannot create something, when you fall ill or just feel plain uninspired. Is it legitimate to hate yourself and feel deflated on these days? If so it shows a ‘living in the present’ which definitely isn’t mindful or healthy.
So as you can tell, my ‘work ethic’ can be quite destructive and self-negating, a double-edged sword. It is also not necessarily productive. In this sense it has a lot in common with another work ethic.
That of the capitalist world.
There is this destructive belief that we should always be active. We should shun the hours of night and live for the hours of day, scrambling around, doing things. Endlessly doing things. Always doing things.
I have heard many people say ‘I am currently between jobs’, as if all of life was to be contained within the boundaries of work. As if not having a ‘job’ was something to be ashamed of, and required a euphemism.
Yet always being active does not mean one is being productive. A short-sighted measure of productivity misses the much important bigger picture. A busybody might work every day, and think that everyone else has to. In a vigourous rhythm of work, our busybody could easily fail to take care for themselves (I’ve been there), and carry resentment for others who do not share their ‘burden’ (there also). They might think that those who do not share their busybody attitude to work and perpetual industriousness are lazy and in need of ‘motivation’.
But other people might work at a different rhythm. The artist who paints one meaningful brush stroke per day is no less creative than the contracted musician who writes ten advertising jingles a week. In regards to productivity, one person may mindfully achieve more with a single hour of clever labour than a fusty busybody achieves in a week of running around keeping themselves busy.
Because those who stop to consider things can change fundamentals which save everybody time and energy, or which sets us on a better direction.
If a farmer spends ten days sowing ten acres with a shitty plough is he more productive than the farmer who spends five days sowing ten acres with the much better plough he took the time to improve and re-design? One who measures work in days and hours is bound to think that the longer one spends on something, the more productive they are being. This is simply time-filling, not meaningful, praiseworthy labour. Industriousness is no bedrock of pride or productivity.
The idea of a neurotic work-ethic is stopping us from pausing and planning for the precarious future. The more we run on the treadmill, the more we fear to step away, even if the end result is a disastrous collapse. The ceaseless juggernaut of capitalism is literally driving our society blindly over a cliff toward climate catastrophe.
There are essential labours which must always be performed. In the twenty-first century we could make these comparatively few, thanks to technology, human wisdom and the bountifulness of nature. These essential labours do not need a work-ethic to promote them: if they are not done, people will starve and die, buildings will rot and collapse. Nor do they need particular praise or ‘bigging-up’. They get done because they should get done. Those who are able but refuse to perform these essential labours, or create extra work for others, should rightly change their ways, or go away. But to expect everyone to be ever-active is the great folly and conceit of our times.
If someone voluntarily spends their time grinding away at their craft to be the best that can be at it, I have much respect for them. But if someone expects others to always try their hardest, always be active, and be forced into involuntary work, then they can go and sod off.
An abuser can use guilt as a means of control. Most people are concerned about things such as reputation, moral standing, good character. This is because most people are fundamentally decent. These are all good traits. However the more they try to be a moral person, the more culpable they can be to guilt. If someone self-reflective and sensitive is told they have done something wrong, they tend to take that criticism on. The feeling of having done wrong hits before rational thinking can consider what has happened. The good person can find themselves in a mire of guilt without knowing how they ended up there. This is why an abuser can use false accusations and false wounds as a means of power. They strike with the guilt card, the full extent of the blow is only revealed later.
Taking on a lot of guilt makes us limp, overly self-obsessed and prone to being harmed. Feeling guilty is not a sign of moral character or virtue. Guilt means one feels one has transgressed upon a rule. When that rule is something obscene (such as no sex before marriage or thou shalt not question thy abuser), then that guilt reinforces the obscenity. Guilt is a trap, set in the mind of the abused, trained to snare themselves. Soon they are tip-toeing around their own thoughts. Being able to challenge guilt, to hold it in your hand, turn it to and fro and consider it in the light of day, is essential to avoiding falling into this abuse trap.
Guilt can give people a sense of false duty. For instance, an abuser whining about the impact it would have upon him if he was “abandoned”, can put into the heart of the abused a sense of guilt. ‘If only I had stuck with it and changed him!’ This duty is the morality of an abuser, forced into the mind of the abused through manipulation of their good character.
Obscene rules and expectations are planted in the minds of good people as surely as the moon controls the tides. Being able to challenge these rules and expectations we can see how we are being manipulated. Feeling no guilt for upsetting abusive people and their obscene, violent power-hierarchies, we can move away from them easier. That may mean moving into a void – obscene rules for all their evil are still familiar. This is a leap of faith that is most necessary; a journey down an unknown path that leads to liberty. We have to trust that the void, if it is there, will be filled.
If you want to feel guilty about something, try starting with guilt for letting yourself down first. Then abandon that guilt, because little productive is done in it’s name.
We should love ourselves and other worthy people not from a fear of guilt, but as a good in itself. This is a much healthier love, a positive love.
Defy those guilt-inducing rules inside you. Despoil those temples of patriarchy and hierarchy and evil. The truly sacred then awaits you.
The greatest sin you can commit is to try and perfect yourself.
To hold yourself up to impossible expectations.
To push your body far beyond its capabilities.
To build expectations to be ever happy, ever productive, ever active.
Perfection is self-harm. The light, when too strong, blinds eyes and makes you feel sick.
Crawl in shadows and feel earth under your fingertips.
Show where you are weak, because people will find out anyhow.
Be a spectrum and a totality, not a linear light with its disembodied soul.
But the greatest sin of all is to try and perfect yourself.
FUCK THE CAPITALIST WORLD
FUCK THE CAPITALIST WORLD
FUCK THE CAPITALIST WORLD
We focused this week on challenging core beliefs, primarily by recognizing unhelpful thinking patterns. This is the hardest thing you will ever have to do, the deepest you will have to go.
What can change the nature of a man? CBT? Psychotherapy? Himself? Anything at all? Lets find out.
We challenged one of my deepest core beliefs – that I am weak. This is the dark cousin of ‘I am useless’ and ‘I am undeserving’. Its evil brother is ‘I should be perfect.’ How these things unravel all at once.
My lack of belief in my own strength, this disconnection from my body, makes my own sensations frightening; it makes an enemy of my own corpus. Such a belief has been on in the background, like some annoying programme on Windows running undetected, causing havoc and misery. For years I have looked at the world through these glasses, ignoring evidence to the contrary and focusing, manically, on where it is proven true. To feel weak, to have this as a core belief, is terrible. It makes the world seem much more frightening, it makes doing anything outside of your comfort zone a barrier.
This crisis, which began in early January, was a physical crisis (concussion syndrome), and now at its end it is a physical crisis (bad foot and wrist syndrome). The way my mind fixates and catastrophizes has not changed much – I’m just more used to feeling like shit and being able to wait it out. But the fundamental core belief has not been altered yet. I don’t know or trust myself. My short-term strategies to deal with things are preventing the great update. For instance, being overly cautious about a bad foot, going out full crutches and missing out on things, is anxieties way of being absolutely certain that things are going to be ok. This will then confirm itself by its own methods, however much longer and worse it makes the suffering before recover begins.
But the desire for absolute certainty is a sure means to kill life dead. Life is uncertainty, being out of control is an inevitability, accepting a note of chaos in the symphony of order is healthy. The means by which my anxiety looks after me, trying to ensure an optimum perfect self by its own high standards, sabotages itself and makes its actualization impossible. It is a vicious cycle – the need for perfection creates anxiety about that perfection, preventing any healthy movement toward something better.
I learnt today that the human brain will take an easier route, seeking patterns, making predictions, catastrophizing, trying to protect us. The thinking patterns it develops manifest subconsciously, and operate in the background without our knowing. No wonder if all seems like nothing can change! To displace this toxic thinking with something better is a vast undertaking. The anxious mind sees things in black and white, things must either be perfect and secure or not at all. It catastrophizes, blowing things out of proportion. It mistakes emotions for absolute facts. It filters out what it doesn’t like and leans toward its own subconscious bias.
If I don’t slow down and start changing things now, life is only going to get worse. This crisis has been horrible at times, but it could have been a living hell. In a way it came at a not-so-bad time: better a 70% debilitation when you are healthy than a 90% debilitation later in life when you are jaded and starting to crumble. The question is can I make the changes and eke some success out of life, or be scorched out like a candle burnt at both ends, having never truly achieved anything.
Fucking hell bro, things got very, very real.
It was all going so well.
Panic disorder was all but gone, and there was no way I was going to get complacent about it. I had a regular routine for my week – two days of garden volunteering, three or four days of adventures and meeting friends, and one day of rest. I finally made it back to see my comrades in West London, and all seemed to be improving in a decidedly linear and inevitable fashion!
Then I kicked a wall three times.
It might sound stupid, viewed out of context, but when you consider that I had insomnia for many nights, and that it was 2am, and that the man next door was singing the same, appalling melody over and over again (interspersed with the occasional wail-like shout and return), I think it was almost justified. If only I had sandals on and hadn’t bruised my heel!
But I didn’t have sandals on, and it looks like I did. So now I can’t walk properly and go around on crutches. Missing work at the garden makes me feel utterly incompetent and useless. Not being able to socialize is making me fear the envelopment of darkness again. Already I have less interest in doing the things I love.
But this is, as they say, the real world bruv.
Anxiety latched onto my heel very quickly. For the first few days after the wall-kick it was fine. After that it started to ache. On that night I slept about an hour and a half. It was my first time with cold sweats (horrible) and a real deep sense of anxiety and danger. What if it’s broken? What if I am trapped here? What if I get the same abject emotions as before and fall back into a void? What if an opportunity comes up and I have to miss it? Will I have to miss volunteering tomorrow? Cyclically these thoughts and similar dooms went round and round. I tried to challenge the significance of them or question them, but this would only make them go away so long.
Naturally the catastrophizing wasn’t an accurate prediction. The next day at A&E went pretty smoothly. I was also greatly helped by family, who I was at first afraid to expose my vulnerability to. The anxiety still fixated on the injury, even after confirmed it was nothing serious, because it could become so. My leg muscles, for instance, feel sore from trying to compensate for heel pain. This kind of thing can make you lame in the long run, which does not bare thinking about. But the anxiety also forced me to work out how to deal with the situation. To accept that I have to rest. To elevate the leg. To change my posture. To ice it twice a day. To get decent insoles and medical tape to protect the heel. Even though anxiety has made me feel like utter shite on a daily basis, it has also driven me to sort this crisis out and stop it from becoming worse.
So its back to catastrophe! It shows how frail a thing ‘progress’ is I suppose. I thought I was doing well, but maybe I was just putting on a band aid. Things have to change for me to be healthy – not just things like posture and medical related, but on a much more fundamental and difficult level. I couldn’t keep going as I was before, and I was in a way imitate that before the heel struck the wall in rage.
Lets see what comes out of this. I should focus on the positives: it has brought me much closer to Professor Tolkien (I have had the Silmarillion lying around for months) and inspired me to finally start my own mythic stories. It has taught me about the foot, and how important one little part on the lowest bit of the human being really is. I will never take having an unhurt skull for granted again. Now I can add mobility to that list of gratitudes.
Hopefully I end up looking after myself better. I always had a sense that I wouldn’t live much past 40, and that my latter years would be terrible, painful, warped and bent! Acknowledging such anxiety, I have to make sure it isn’t so.