I change my mind about everything so often these days that I feel like I’m seven different people.
At least I’m not alone.
I was going to write a post all weekend. I know, I still haven’t managed one on Sunday. You can see last week’s post-Sunday post for the reasons. Was it really only a week ago? That’s weak. You could well convince me that it was months ago. Well, it was… last month. And what a difference a month makes.
It’s time to get rid of the pumpkins. October is gone, and what’s replacing it may be just as scary, but without the illusion or the mask. I’ve never been a fan of smashing pumpkins, either the activity or the band, but the pumpkins mold so fast these days they stand as a metaphor for political integrity. The face that smiles at you with a consistent look when you have the most hope about its designs is already rotten by November.
I go back and forth about things so quickly. Sometimes I think that all of human fear can be traced to our adaptability. We adapt so quickly to changes or new ideas that by two hours after we’ve thought of something, we already fear changing and letting it go. Our rapid-fire adaptation becomes our undoing, because it still takes that initial surge that beats down inertia to get us going in the first place. And each of those pulses or surges, overcoming our fear and our status quo, takes its toll of exhaustion and demoralization.
There is also joy and euphoria, though. The elation of knowing that the future is unknown, unfixed, able to be altered. In living life being close to many people, I have found that few others know that true exhilaration. Most only see the panic, the terror, the insecurity and instability innate to not knowing what tomorrow holds. But embracing that sensation, wrapping both arms around and holding on for dear life, squeezing the unknown till it begs for constraint – that is, in some ways, what life is all about. I crave that feeling, much the way I crave heights or breakfast burritos or good conversation. Smashing one’s ruts and routines like so much rotted squash.
But then I don’t. As soon as I decide something, get excited, put all the ducks in a row, there’s a change of heart, or of mind, or of … will? I don’t know. Turn and turn and turn again. It makes it hard to think or write or conclude when all I want to do is change. Change is good, but when change is the only constant, things become more of a struggle. Usually when I’ve used that phrase before, I’ve at least meant day to day or week to week. These days, it’s up-to-the-minute.
Through my life, people have accused me of being a manic depressive. I’ve playfully embraced the label, now called the oxymoronic “bipolar disorder”. From bi, meaning two, and polar, meaning poles. But anything which has poles has two of them. And this is “disorder”. From dis, meaning I’m putting you down, and order, meaning the way things should be.
In that succinct two-line phrase, we have all the metaphor we need for the modern state of “mental health treatment”. Taking a basic premise of everyone’s reality (or even aspiration) and calling it a problem.
Throughout much of my writing, I have defended the sine-curve lifestyle associated with so-called “bipolar disorder” or “manic depression” (note the contradictions in the old name, too) as being preferable to any other perspective in which one lives. It’s all over Introspection, usually fueled by rage. That people aspire to flatline their emotions is emblematic of what I find to truly be wrong with our society. People have been rendered afraid to feel, afraid to be governed by instincts and gut-level reactions that have been honed for centuries as guardians of our understanding and even our safety. For a society so critical of the reserve and restriction of the Victorian era, it is amusing that we still admire the emotional numbness of that era’s ideals.
Plus, the “treatment” just doesn’t work. I could give you a list of names of people who are on drugs for seeing the world properly at my place of work, or my last place of work, or countless other environments. You can spot the flattened effect a mile away. In contexts outside of “bipolar disorder treatment”, flattened effect is itself labeled a disorder. And yet the even-keel, robotic drone of mild pleasantness is seen as positive change, even salvation. Side effects may include fainting without warning, loss of bladder function, nausea, sore throat, and suicide. But you’ll feel okay about these things!
Okay. My intent here was not to take a tire-iron to this dead horse that angers me so. My intent was more to draw a (surprise!) metaphor for what’s going on. I told a friend a few weeks ago that he should not give into the temptation to think that what he was going through, what he was feeling, was not real. Because it is real. It’s real and true.
The world spins on an axis and it travels on an orbit. Level and rate. We have no reason to believe that the solar system itself does not have a similar experience, perhaps also spinning and certainly orbiting or drifting through the absolute space (such as it is) of the universe. Every second, the Earth is in motion in two or three or four different directions, simultaneously, effortlessly, but at a speed that would make fighter jet pilots flinch.
The serf farmer born tied to a Russian plot of land in the 1700’s, living and dying there every moment of his century of life, traveled as much as any jet-setter of the modern era in terms of absolute space.
This is the amount of change we experience every day. Massive, rapid, unfathomable alteration.
Last week, upon the death of a clam who predated and outlived our Russian serf, I called to mind the image of a nervous planet whistling into a darkened woods. In truth, of course, that planet is a whirling dervish, flying like a top (bey-blade?) in a circular dance almost unaware of what is in the path. There may be spooks and spiders and goblins aplenty. But the planet just spins and twirls and dances away, regardless of surroundings.
Earth’s course is predestined. Those of its inhabitants are not. As long as we pay attention. As long as we let ourselves feel.
To feel the rhythms of reality, to be aware of the endless change and travel innate to existence. To attune to the unknown, the unanticipated, the overwhelmingly vast but ever-ever-ever-turning.
Watch for falling goblins.