Life isn’t Simple

Humans have been over simplifying the world, like I just did in the title for many millennia.

I wonder how we ever got better than being savages in constant fear, hunger and violence.  And then I remember.  We did it by convincing people through oversimplification that they should support X or Y change.

I hate the human need to simplify.  Life is so very much more complex than all of our ridiculous declarations of Truth.  But with all of that hate, I am still drawn in by the oversimplification of reality.

I want to understand.  And simple is just easier to comprehend.  Its easier to place new information into the organization that my mind has already laid out.

Complexity ,however, is beautiful.  Complexity is the very nature of life.  It deserves to be embraced.

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The moments I miss my mother.

When someone you love dies, you mostly miss them in small moments you would have shared with them.

Today, I realized why a driver who works here seems so familiar to me.  He is the modern version of  Wodehouse’s Gally Threepwood.  He is, of course, not an English nobleman.  But he is older, irreverent, full of off color jokes, loud clothing and mischievous cheer.  He is known for being sober only when he is driving.  He is Gally.

Mom would have loved knowing that.  She introduced me Wodehouse’s fiction.  We shared that love.    It would have been fun to explain him to her when I got home from work, like I did so many times.

After the initial pain of loss subsides, its holes that are left by unshared moments that haunt you.  Moments you know would have been there if the person still lived.

I would submit that the Interstate Highway System is the greatest achievement of the US government.

And we take it for granted.

It impacts you DAILY.

If you don’t understand its impact, think about the last time you drove on a road with some version this as its sign.

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How many stop lights were there?

But the interstate goes the same places.  No stops.

The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the way you get to work.  Everything you touch is easier, cheaper and faster because of the interstate.

Every day.

It matters.  And its not even something we think about except when its not working to the exceptional level we think is normal.

A road without intentional pause.

A road with EXCEPTIONAL signage.  If you have a vague understanding of the geography of this country – you can drive the interstate system WITHOUT maps, from one end of the country to the other.

Its a primary example of when government works.

Eisenhower.  Who knew?  He looked so boring.

Life is about small moments

I follow a young couple on twitter.  The young man (23 or 24) has cancer.

This is a sad sad thing. Of course it is.

But.

As they battle this cancer and navigate the hospitals and the hazards of doctors and medicine, they have reminded me so deeply that the small things are what make life most worthy.

They find cheer and hope and happiness in the most mundane moments.

The grand battles and big enemies, they are epic.  They are bigger than any of us can fix or overcome.  But none of us are fighting the grand battle.  We are all of us living in the small moments.

Joy still comes is in quiet moment of enjoying a good dinner with friends.

The unbearable horror can be dealing with traffic on your way home from cancer treatment.

Empathy carries us another step when a shopkeeper who notices his usually cheerful customer is quiet and sad while she chooses her veggies and asks what is wrong.

Exhaustion is created by battling an unfair library fine.

Sudden energy comes from one person who steps out of the bureaucracy and provides needed guidance and information.

Those small moments are the moments we experience.  They are things that define how we feel.

But we all think the epic struggle of cancer or war or starvation is the thing.  Some large monstrous thing we cannot possibly grapple with.

NO.

Life is not the big epic battles.  Its the tiny moments of struggle and triumph, of kindness or disdain that really define our lives and even direct our epic battles.

Those daily moments are not outside the realm of anyone to change.  We cannot change the course of cancer as ordinary individuals.  But we can touch the person who is struggling.  We can mean something to the person in front of us.  And how we deal with each other is how each of us experiences the epic struggles of our life.

We can’t fix everything.  But we can change the course of the moment that sits in front of us. And sometimes that extra moment of effort means an unfathomable amount to the other person in the moment.  You may never know it. But perhaps we should all act as though it does.

Nothing is ever really true.

All the remembered and current actions and events in my life change when I stare at them.

The way they look depends on how my brain is feeling at the time.

When my brain is seeing them from the cesspools of depression, all of my actions look like failures, all the events look like disasters, and I am a pretty bad person all around.

When my brain is seeing them from a healthy happy perspective, all of those same actions are reframed into necessary actions, learning curves, challenges I can find a silver lining for and I’m a pretty decent human.

Everything in my life is framed by my mental disposition at the time.  Nothing has a black and white truth.

Humans don’t have a solid line inside of them that we can use to judge the world or our own actions with any accuracy.  So we reach out to some outside reference point because if we look too long at the ever changing landscape of our past, we start to recognize the wavering nature of truth.

We realize – Nothing is ever true.

That is the attraction of looking outside of self for some unchangeable set of truths by which to measure our life.  That is the attraction of fundamentalist religion.

Listening is Reading on the Internet

Yesterday ManuDS wrote a post about listening, or more accurately how we don’t listen.  I agreed wholeheartedly with it.

I have always considered myself a good listener.  In fact my job’s primary function is listening.  I work in a call center.  But on the internet, listening is translated into reading comprehension.

And I think the issue that ManuDS brings up are amplified on the internet when reading someone’s thoughts.   I hang out in places like wordpress, tumblr, twitter and reddit where you can interact – leave comments.  But I also am not as good a “listener” on the internet as I am in real life.

On the internet, I can skim.  Or I can read until I get to place where it sparks a thought I want to express and I can just skip down and comment.  I’ve done that.

I just caught myself condemning someone who started his comment with, I didn’t read the whole post, but I wanted to comment on… And then I stopped myself and thought – well at least he’s honest about it.  I’ve done it before and not confessed.

 

Everyone wants to be heard.  Its a form of validation.  And humans NEED validation.  People often condemn it, but its just nature and its necessary to our self definition, to our feelings of security, to our sense of place.  Everyone does it.

The internet, or at least the places where I live on the internet, is one large attempt to gain some validation.  To have our identity recognized through our thoughts, our humor, our fandom.  But it is also a place that can slowly degrade your identity, because people may not really be seeing, reading, comprehending.

I think I will attempt to be more aware of the person on the other side of the words on the screen.  To read the words like I’m listening to the person. To not comment unless I have fully comprehended the ideas and views of the person who wrote them.  There is enough static in the ether to fuzz out most of us, my refusing to try doesn’t need to add to the fuzziness.statelibqld_2_179487_doris_auguste_heindorff_listening_to_a_gramophone_new_farm_brisbane_1903-1913

Depression Management: The ongoing struggle.

At some point this year, I gave up on the idea of Recovery.  And I switched to the idea of Management.

This sounds very much like I have given up.  But in fact, I think it is the opposite.  I no longer hope for a long term goal of being free of depression, but I work for a daily goal of improving today.

Depression is so invisible, even to the person who is drowning in its waters.  I have spent my life dogged by varying degrees of depression. Most of that time, I either didn’t recognize it, or didn’t acknowledge it.  But it remained none the less

There have been times when it was clearly predominant and deeply entrenched in every aspect of my life, as it was when I couldn’t leave my bed, eventually ran out of money and became homeless.

There have been times when it ran quietly in the background, while I ran a call center of 70 people, had a very active social life and felt physically great.  In those days, I refused to acknowledge it because my life was wonderful, I couldn’t be depressed.

Depression is there.  Sometimes it is quiet and less dampening, only pestering the quiet corners of my life.  Sometimes it is everywhere.  But its not going away.  My brain has deep ruts in certain pathways that make up depression.

So now I accept it and plan a way out of its problematic aspects.  Now I just want to live a life that is better than the one I have been living for the last 10 years.

I’m working on developing habits and routines, so my brain will have entrenched pathways to go to when I need to do things.  Habits make life run more easily, so when I’m depressed, its easier to start the brain program for an already established habit than to do something I have no set habit for.

But not all of life is a routine.  So, now my life must planned like a battle.  Each day, the depression must be assessed.  How deep is the hole today?   How much of an effort is it going to be?  Each day a plan must be done.  And on days when the hole is deep,  each activity, will be broken into tiny tasks.  Each tiny task must be tackled one at a time.  Each tiny task must have a timer set for its start. T minus 20 minutes to get out of bed.

This doesn’t sound very pleasant.  And some days it isn’t and somedays it just doesn’t happen at all.  But what is pleasant is the feeling of victory I get when I accomplish things that other people just don’t even notice.

And what is most important is that since I started this change of view – my life has improved.  My mindset has improved and the depression doesn’t seem as impossible to conquer anymore.

Because I’m no longer hoping for complete annihilation of the depression.  I’m working for domination over the depression.  wayward_warrior_by_mrbasilisk-d4t6qg1

Image by Mrbasilisk on Deviantart. 

Giant Plans for My Weekend*

TONIGHT:  Watch The Martian.  Lily and I are in our preferred positions on the bed and we are primed for the Movie Event of the Evening.

Tomorrow I’m going to take my sanity in my hands and go to see Star Wars.  I was going to wait, but the chances of it being spoiled are getting too large, so.

And then.  AND Then.  I will be going to purchase a new personal toy.  Mine broke 3 weeks ago and it has now become sort of annoying.  I’m amazed it hasn’t bothered me sooner and more…There was a time when this would have been a minor crisis that would have been dealt with within 48 hours if not 24.   Depression – sometimes it works in your favor.  Or maybe I’m just getting older.

Finally, to clean up a good weekend, I’m going to purchase a bra.  Because sometimes you have to do shitty things.  And purchasing bras is one of them.  I’m amused that my boss is purchasing my bra though.  He gave me $50 gift certificate to Macys.  So the bra is on him!

*Giant is a relative term.  In my life this is SUPER busy.

I’m at work for Christmas

Don’t feel bad, I don’t.

I like Christmas better now that I don’t have so much pressure to participate in gift buying and being someplace.  This alone place where I currently live my life is the result of depression isolating me until I’m no longer expected to call anyone or be anyplace.

And while isolation wasn’t a conscious choice on my part, today I’m not miserable because of it.  Depression and obligations are a terrible mixture. And I remember terrible moments during Christmas’s past where my failure to keep up with obligations made me feel worse and worse about myself, plummeting me deeper into the hole of depression.  Now that the isolation is complete, there is a sort of floaty freedom about it.

I like being able to work and allow people with families and obligations to be there and enjoy the day.  Its a tiny thing I can feel good about.  And in my world where my brain emphasizes all the things I do and have done wrong, its a nice gift to give myself.

I’m aware that I would like to be more social.  More involved in life.  And maybe I will make that part of the 2016 effort.  Perhaps the depression has lifted enough that I can do that.   But right now, I’m OK being alone for Christmas.

Presents under the tree…

I was just thinking back to my childhood Christmases. In my family we did not wrap presents from Santa.  So when I came out on Christmas Morning, the Santa presents were set up in front of the tree, and my exhausted parents could sleep through my sneaking out to the tree at 4am.

One Christmas, the VERY BEST Christmas, I got a siamese kitten.  But I already knew I was getting it.

Because the kitten was locked in my parents room on Christmas Eve.  But being a kitten it did not particularly like that, so it kept putting its little paws under the door.  And being Siamese, it was not particularly quiet.  In middle of the night, they finally put the kitten on my bed and I woke up to my feet being attacked by a small white fuzz of fur.

My mother did NOT put labels on presents.  All presents were anonymous.  And she just remembered and handed them out on Christmas Day.  Well, mostly she remembered.  The memory failures were hysterical though.

She was a genius at adding an extra bit of excitement to an event.  She hid our birthday presents and made us find them when we woke up in the morning.

We did not open all the presents at once together.  We opened them one at a time, watching each person and enjoying each gift.  This makes gift opening last at least an hour.  Sometimes longer.  But it also makes it so much more fun.  Because for me giving the gift is most enjoyable, and watching someone open a gift I was excited to give them made the day feel like it was about giving and not about getting.  Actually, maybe that is how she taught us that.  hmmm.

But we couldn’t open the gifts (except the Santa ones) until after breakfast.  And breakfast on Christmas isn’t cereal and milk.  Nope.  Its a big wonderful sit down with egg casseroles and bacon and biscuits and gravy and fresh orange juice.

And torture for children.  Deep dark torture for children.  My parents would deliberately take their time and bring up how we could just put off opening the presents until after dinner, that way we could make a wonderful day stretch… and then just watch the children’s reactions with glee.  Oh they were mean sometimes.  😉

We were lucky.  gifts_xmas