Before I continue my day, I’m going to talk about some things.
Yesterday, I outlined a schedule for myself which had me waking at 7:30am. Needless to say I woke at 8am, hit the snooze for an hour, rose, made two rice cakes smeared with nutty peanut butter and strawberry chia spread, opened the window of my girlfriends apartment, and smoked a cigarette. I read book III of Cicero’s Rhetorica ad Herennium, specifically the part on memory, and proceeded with my daily routine. Mostly showering. I didn’t make the bed today. I feel ill inside. Unsettled.
I received word that two of the most promising companies I’ve been interviewing with have moved on with other applicants. This is to be expected. Rejection happens. I’ve applied to over 150 positions the past month. Perhaps more.
I’m sitting in Cafe International with a knot in my chest. I have a book I’d like to continue writing, but a paralysis keeps me from doing anything more than day dreaming about the remaining chapters. It’s just an outline.
I avoid responsibility for some reason. Deep down I am lazy. Without discipline, that is. Nothing is difficult when you commit and stop thinking.
But I think, and think, and think some more, and eventually these thoughts turn into actions, and I find myself on a bunny trail down some intellectual hole to no where. There is nothing being mastered in my pursuit. It’s just sampling fascinating ideas. And for what reason? To what end? Knowledge? This is what I tell myself, and what I sell others.
But deep down, I think it’s a form of procrastination that I can pass as healthy, though its anything but. Reading? Reading biology? Sociobiology? Evolution? Linguistics? Sociology? Psychology? I have books by Jung, Piaget, Panksepp, Walter Scheidel, Frans de Waal, Laplace, Bowlby, Konrad Lorenz, Lucretius, Gunter Stent, Carl Degler, Max Tegmark, Pliny the Elder, Terrance Deacon, Plekhanov, Ezra Pound, Durant, and countless others accumulating at the perimeter of my small room in Palo Alto. I purchased The World of Mathematics four volume set by James R. Newman, which provides thousands of pages of historical information on the development of mathematics. What on earth am I doing? I have thousands of books, in my home and Nashville, and hundreds more accumulating all around me. And for what end?
I meditate here and there, and tell others of its profound transformation on my inner life. What a load of shit. What a temporary relief. I plunged into the world of memory and mnemonics, and extol the virtues to all who will listen, even memorizing Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act III Scene I, or at least half of it. Another sad attempt to latch onto a temporary, fleeting excuse of engagement.
I am a peripatetic, a self proclaimed intellectual, full of shit, steeped in debt. Jobless. While not homeless, I feel very much displaced. If it were not for my girlfriend, I would be on the road, somewhere far away, exploring, escaping. I would be applying to jobs all over the country. But I love her, or at least I feel like she provides the sole comfort and stability that life has to offer at the moment, and in this temporary tempest, it feels like what I need most.
I’m not sure I like the person I’ve become. Or maybe I never have. I don’t know how I have any friends. I’m not sure I’d be friends with me. I’m full of shit. I’m domineering. Selfish. Self centered. Its not even something that I try to be. It’s only retrospectively that I see my insane need for attention and validation, and I grow sick with disgust. Utter disgust.
So here I sit, in San Francisco. My family remains together in South Florida. Since my niece was born I haven’t heard much. They don’t know how I’m doing, and that I haven’t a job, that I haven’t a clue what the future holds.
Of course I meditate on the proper course of action. I pour over journal entries from years past, hoping to glean some insight that propelled me forward.
I find that attitude, goals, focus, and consistent right action are the key.
But I discovered something else.
I discovered that I have not changed.
Yes, I’ve accumulated experience. I’ve gained knowledge. Maybe even some genuine skill and wisdom. But beneath it all, a constant has remained, which scares me as much as it relieves me. This constant is a consistent undulation, vacillation, oscillation of emotion, that swings much like a predictable pendulum, from highs and lows. It’s an inescapable process that I’ve been dying to flee from. Of course life has gotten better or worse despite these moods, despite these tones coloring my life. But life seems to be a distant backdrop in which my conscious experience is arbitrarily painted. The relationships, the gain, the loss, all seemingly irrelevant when the subject at hand, my sense of self, is swinging from ecstasy to torment.
And so, this constant remains. And I tell myself that the only way to the other side of these storms, these catastrophic strikes that drill into the essence of my stable self, is through, and not around, and that no amount of distracting preoccupation will make them go away, no drug, no sex, no curiosity, no temporary experimental salve. I must march through, and learn to weather the onslaught of emotion, despite the fear, despite the exhaustion, despite the procrastination.
There is no way around these episodes. I’ve definitely tried that. I try it to this day. I succumb to the feeling of dread, begin smoking a dozen cigarettes a day, drowning myself in libations, in the haze of self medicated smoke. And I wake to find the storm raging. And the only thing that’s changed is the elapse of time, and an increased sense of unpreparedness, which only compounds the dread. This is the downward spiral that leads to rock bottom, as they say, when you slowly become sick and tired of being sick and tired. You cannot fake it, and the atrophied will becomes weaker.
Arriving at this realization sooner than later would alleviate much pain and heartache, but upon deeper inspection, it appears that there is a spiritual battle at hand, between the ego and the spirit. The ego is that veil of defenses that keep the self in a state of self deception. The spirit is the conscience that embodies a will to live, a will to fight, a will to power, a will to good. A will to survive.
And so these two opposing forces at at odds, and the paralysis is symptom of a defiant ego resisting what the spirit knows is best.
And so we have my predicament time and time again. That stubborn ego.
And I feel I had no part in constructing this debilitating force. I want to absolve responsibility, and blame childhood, years of mediation, of moving and instability. But that does little to liberate the spirit trapped inside the walled defenses that malignantly formed to protect, and simultaneously stagnate.
Where do I go from here? I ask myself. What will wake me? When will the ego relent? Must I file bankruptcy? Must I find myself destitute, in a crack house, in a heroin gang, lost and helpless before I begin the reconstruction of a healthy self? I hope not. I hope the bottom was found long ago in my reckless, damaging youth. I hope never again to find myself in that petty state.
But yet, I find myself unafraid of those consequences. What was once such a cold reality, a reality that would cause my conscience to seize with pain at the thought of it, is now a vague distant drama. The natural shocks of those painful decisions have lost their point, have become dull.
So I need to apply to more jobs today. What jobs? I don’t know. Sales.
I also want to write this damn book. Finish it once and for all.
My girlfriend returns home today from Mexico. She flew back this weekend to visit her family. Her brothers two month old daughter contracted a life threatening bacterial infection, and it doesn’t look good. The first round of antibiotics proved ineffective, but the second round seems to be working.
I will begin my day now.