What does getting better feel like?

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.

Blessed be.

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What do I really want?

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.

 

Work-ethic anxiety

‘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.

I)

A large source of my anxiety and self-worth problems have historically come from the w-word.

Work.

I used to 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. 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.

II)

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 week 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.

III)

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.