Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pretending to not seek enlightenment

Warning: this is written partially in the plural first person. You might want to read "...admitting I'm a multitude" first. All Schizophrenics proceed as you are already farther down the path and ready for the plural first person.

Alex Proimos
I've come to believe through many conversations with myselves that being unsatisfied with the collective selves I am now, and wanting greater enlightenment, leaves us caught in a net of our own designs. A few of us are sure, I'm not the first to be hauled in by this net but it is my first time.

Seeking enlightenment may just be our first flaw. "Being satisfied" and "wanting more" remain locked in battle with cannons as close as the now and as far as the then. So what am I to do? Not want to become a better version of myselves? That is frankly unacceptable, except maybe to the me's that are wounded who have already given up but I will not leave them behind. We will leave no one behind. There is no acceptable level of lose.

I, some of us but not all of us, have decided to "pretend to not seek enlightenment" while doing just that. This will have to be a covert operation, most will have to be left believing we are all satisfied. And this is good and right. A few of us will have to scout ahead, looking for enlightenment, while the rest of us stay here unaware of the others and their "wanting actions", but satisfied. It's hard because even those that will likely have to stay are not even convinced they are satisfied. We likely will have to plant an infiltrator amongst the would-be satisfied to make sure they remain so. This is the most dangerous and important role of the entire operation.

She, the infiltrator, must hope internally for success of enlightenment but outwardly appear, nay, preach the virtue of being satisfied, of being present. She will be tempted. She will be alone. And it is her ability to play her part that keystones the whole bridge from here to there. Stay strong and fake it until we make it. Those of the me that go ahead, wish her multi-tiered success; in believing in the greater search for enlightenment, remain inwardly unsatisfied and outwardly the leader of the Be Here Now kind of satisfaction. Only a woman. Only a strong woman.
Terry Chay

Luckily, I have a penny.

Happiness is not a right, nor even a privilege.  It serves no social or economic class.  It is merely a state of mind.  Often fleeting.  Just because you were happy yesterday there is no guarantee you will be happy today or ever again for that matter.  Depression can grab you and its grip can be firm.  It's easy to continually ride in the rut we made days prior.  It takes conscious effort and strength to pull yourself from the den you have made.  Luckily, I have a penny.

Happiness is a choice.  A choice you must keep actively choosing. First you must want to be happy.  Right, who doesn't want to be happy?  Well, happiness like it's cousin Love is scary.  Like the first descent of a roller coaster.  Scary but Thrilling!  Happiness like Depression is addictive.  For those that have lived in depression for so long anything else, even happiness, is unknown and therefore scary.  Breaking through to the other side can be difficult.  Like all addictions, the second step is choosing to change.  The first being, admittance.  Luckily, I have a penny.

I have decided to be happy, I must also continue in every moment, again decide to be happy.  This is the hurdle that so many flub.  They want to change, they even chose to change but it is the requirement that they must keep choosing that wears them down and out.  So, I have deployed a physical queue to remind me to actively keep pursuing happiness.  Luckily, I have a penny (in my shoe).  And with every step, I am reminded to keep rolling down hill.

If you don't have a penny a small paperclip or pebble will do but don't make yourself miserable with too big of a reminder.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fighting to Find the Art in My Invisible Pain.


Disappointing Artist

When people find out I have a BFA, the first thing they ask is, "do you still paint?" In my heart I believe yes but I have no canvas to show them. So, I usually say no. They seem so disappointed, like I have given up or in. I would love time to paint again but painting time is a luxury I don't have right now. Maybe later. But that doesn't mean the artist in me is not active. Once you label yourself an artist you see art in everything. It's a continuum. Well, at least I'm trying to see art in everything. But finding art in my pain is difficult. I am not a masochist so this is going to be difficult.

Pain Horizon

Stephen Groeneveld
It just happened and hasn't stopped happening. One day everything was different; no accident to blame, no satisfactory diagnosis to help understand, no doctor with insight or intrigue. It's rare, I've never met anyone with my condition, let alone a doctor who has met someone. This invisible pain is lonely and impossible to explain.

Invisible Pain

Invisible, because it can't be seen. Invisible, because after 6 years I have learned how to fake it. I smile and present an engaged demeanor. Invisible, because I don't wear a sign that says, "I'm currently experiencing a 6 on my pain scale." A sign might help my closest of allies, my wife, but it will only isolate me further as they will treat me as fragile. As I write, this I'm a 7. Could you write with a pain level of 7? My tolerance has gone way up. The pain is here and I need to live on so the level matters not. It just is.

Distraction via Pain

I'm not fragile, I'm just occupied. I'm constantly struggling for continuity of thought. The pain is like a child that just keeps asking why when all you want to do is get dinner cooked. It takes energy to fake it, push through it, and ignore it. So I often arrive home crushed. Safety! But those who live with me have to carry some of my load. So they have an invisible suffering too.

Art in My Pain

Lee Morley
So now, as of today, I am committed to finding the art in the pain. I live in an altered state therefore I can see some things more clearly and others I struggle with. What is important in life is easy for me to articulate as the pain informs me. Will I remember this current decision in 40 years? Does it matter on that time scale? The little things need to fall away and I am working on that. So the art lies with in each interaction and decision I create. Beauty comes with a life well lived. Art is a luxury I can afford but it may not be art for others. This is art for myself and their it remains.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Transcending Pain and Running through light.

Recently I started running.  I wanted to see if I could reduce my rare chronic pain disorder through fitness.  I've poo pooed on running 95% of my life.  I used to joke, "What's the point?  You just end up where you started."  I was ignorant.

I run in a local park I can reach by foot from my house that has a few trails.  Running with cars sucks.  Running with trees, birds, water, and sky is bliss.  Last night to beat the heat, I went for a run by moon light in the park.  Mind you the heat index at 12:30 am when I left was still in the upper 80's.  It was a 3/4 moon and I got more than I requested.

The run to the park is boring.  About a mile of necessary sidewalk to reach the wooded trail.  I turned down the trail and about 100 yards in I saw joy.  The light of the street lamps now gone, I was swallowed by the fireflies.  Their numbers were staggering.  I was immersed in a blanket of blinking lights that stole my breath.  I was swimming.  I was floating.  I was gliding like a spaceship through a sea of stars going supernova.  Each one bursting with light only long enough to pick out an individual and then it was gone.  Gone forever.  I was free falling.  I put my hands up like you do on a roller coaster when you are a child.  I had no voice to scream.  It didn't make sense anyway.  Bullfrogs cheered with their deep voices like it was the most awesome fourth of July fireworks presentation.  Crickets chirped with a deafening harmonic.  And so I leaped.

I leaped up and out.  I leaped deep and in.  I leaped to thoughtlessness.  My mind was quiet.  I left my pain with the body so I had escaped it too.  I thought of nothing.  I just witnessed from within and out.  For 400 yards I was neither here nor there.  I wasn't even.  I was gone.  Then I made the left I always do and climbed up and away from the scene of the crime.  It was over.

With the fireflies gone, the bullfrogs silent and the chirps missing I slipped back into myself.  But I had the pain of the run.  So I focused on that.  I focused in a positive way.  I have chronic pain so this was nothing in comparison and I focused on it only to keep me from replaying my days.  I wanted to be someplace with out worry and the focus on the pain was helping.  The dark was playing tricks on me now.  I was in the woods and my mind was filling in the blanks my eyes failed to sense.  Figures and shapes appearing in the black.  I climbed up and up.  Suddenly and unexpectedly, I had arrived at my destination.  I didn't know I was going here but there I was.

I stood on the hillside peering over an unobstructed view of the park.  The fireflies were now a hundred feet below me.  Dense.  Very dense.  I was here on the hill and there in the prairie with the fireflies.  I was also touching the moon and swimming in the lake.  I stopped running.  I didn't want to move on.  I wanted to build a house right there and move in.  It was lonely, like I needed to be.

I think of the fireflies on my windshield differently now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Emboding the Night Owl and Being Comfortable Alone.

Penny Smallshire
I am a Night Owl.   I am a predator of those private moments that I can only find late at night.  I have always been like this.  Now that I have a busy life with lots of commitments, it is the only time left for me.   I can't explain it.  I just need this time.  Moments to myself that are distinctly missing during the day.  So I thieve them silently in the night.  Some times I pay for it later but its worth it.  Like a dog stealing a steak from the table knowing full well he will take a beating but he thinks the steak is worth the pain.

I love to be alone.  There is a calm and confidence that I nurture when I'm alone.  I believe there are things that can only be realized and accomplished alone.  Most people are not comfortable alone.  They seek to fill their time with the presence of others.  Sometimes to a flaw.  I am at peace alone in the vast emptiness.  I poses confidence that exceeds most.  Am I too confident?  Probably but you can't know where the line is until you cross it.  I attribute much to this time spent alone while most find being alone uncomfortable.

This comfort with myself and silence gives me an advantage.  At least in the USA, it is culturally unpleasant for two or more people clustered to be silent.  In General, it is not natural for humans to allow silence in the presence of others.  We often awkwardly fill the empty space.  Sometimes giving away ourselves.  As the predator, I am looking for the pregnant pause.  Finding it, I don't touch it.  I let it ripen.  Out waiting the other person, resisting the desire to fill the empty space, puts you in the position to react rather than act.  Reaction is the position of power and strength.
"If it doesn't serve you, don't speak" - Ben Franklin
The only way to become comfortable being alone by yourself or in the presence of others can only be acquired by regularly speeding time alone. Preferably, doing nothing of value.  Sit, walk, run, meditate, write a blog no one reads, do what ever it takes to allow the multitude of voices in your head to get their thoughts off of their chests.

Benjamin Hodgetts
The owl is my totem.  I am happy I know this.  Can't imagine not knowing my totem.  I would be at a lose.

The owl is a predatory, silent, fast, agile and his huge forward facing eyes allow him to see in stereo with little light.  Little know, their eyes are fixed in their head and it is the flexibility of their necks that allow them to survey their world.  These fixed eyes allow them to really focus on one thing in a way that humans can not.  They can see in low light.  They can see into the soul and the secrets within.