THE FASTEST AND EASIEST WAY
TO FIND OUT WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE
IS TO BE HONEST.
Here are some letters from the past 18 hours or so:
I am doing alright over here. I’ve been having some really intense communications with a person about God and psychosis. It’s a part of my life that I am still trying to figure out.
I keep reflecting on your reminder of humility. I wonder, though, if sometimes humility does not keep us from being our best selves? There are, in my culture-shamed mind, only a few steps between humility and diminishing self-effacement.
I think that humility in regard to the ego is important, to not take oneself and the small tragedies and triumphs of our lives as so very important. However, I feel like – for me – it is important to balance that grounded irreverence of ego-self and circumstance with a whole-hearted belief that we are capable of amazing things and that we all have our own sort of greatness in us.
I have shrunk my life many times in my effort to be humble and unassuming.
You’re right, it is a fascinating time to be alive, on the edge of something, at the end of something.
I very much appreciate your vision of a transformed military industrial complex.
I am feeling overwhelmed by thinking right now – about humility and participation and megalomaniacal personality structures.
I think a lot in terms of micro/macro relationships and so often feel like the small choices I make, even the things I notice or feel grateful for, have some larger outcome in the world.
I like thinking about the gestalt economy of collective consciousness. I see all these small deeds and tiny exchanges as somehow linked to some great churning of positives and negatives, themes and elements.
The other day, hanging out at the house with the kids, who had been arguing about shared space to build in, my daughter came out to the porch and said, “We’re going to build a town together!” She was so happy that her brother had decided to collaborate with her.
I was, after listening to bitter and accusing child-arguments about property lines on the old Turkish rug, delighted.
My face lit up, “What if our living room is a microcosm of the Israel and Palestine!? What if when you and your sister build a town together, there will be peace in Gaza?”
My kids don’t know much about what is happening in the Middle East, but one of their grandparental homes is well-equipped with televisions and the words “Israel and Palestine” are, even in a child-mind, easily understood to mean war and longstanding conflict.
My kids laughed as I declared, “With this town, let there be peace between Israel and Palestine!”
It was ridiculous.
Still, some small part of me believed that somehow the world works in this way. That minor actions can somehow catalyze mighty change.
This sort of conceptual alchemy conflicts with my thinking about humility – which I think about as the grace of knowing how minute we are.
Maybe I am not thinking about humility in the way it might best be thought about. Then again, there is something strangely unhumble in thinking that some ways of thinking are better than others.
I am having a little bit of a crisis of time management and modes of expression. I’d really like to just write and paint all day. That is not an option. I am supposed to be doing all these other things.
Anyway, I hope you have a good day. Sorry if this is a sort of a non-linear bit of correspondence. I am a non-linear sort of person.
I think the issue that I struggle with is the presumption that those of us who go through the realization of such things in a way that is deemed and treated as psychotic are somehow just hunky-dory, good-to-go in living our new, enlightened lives.
It’s not that simple.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to know – at all times – that you are connected to the world? To feel that?
To find yourself moved by visions of faraway streets and to have a hundred thousand stories – in raw grit and bloom and blood and dust and water – exploding in your head and heart like flashbulbs and fireworks, bright and burning…
I was torn apart from the inside out in the course of my madness. It hurt. Somedays the physical pain was tremendous. It was said in the community that I looked like “a meth head.” People were asked to keep an eye on me.
A few months later, I sobbed raggedly at the foot of a statue, saying, “They took away my children! They took away my children when I lived as your son!”
I felt like a total freak.
Do you know what it is to sit alone and wonder how this truth could be true?
Have you ever known a stranger? Been able to look into someone’s eyes and – if they let you – see what is best in them?
Have you ever read the minds of people who you are not sure even exist? Had the radio play you songs with the subtle details of your day, your life, your times all playing out in the chorus?
Do you know how difficult it is to walk around with all this in your head and to know that it makes you crazy in the eyes of so many people…and that you have made a choice and that the choice has changed your life and changed who you are?
Of course you know how some of these things feel. Madness is very human.
I don’t feel very compelled to try to convince you of the validity of my experience in this area, as there are reams and reams of scattered>scathing>searching> sentient pages that offer plenty of absurdist testimony to what was and is an absurdist situation.
I mean, what exactly am I supposed to do with a set of experiences like mine?
I actually know what I’m “supposed” to do. It’s a mighty task. It’s audacious. It’s grandiose.
I talked to a friend today, a homeless code writer, and he said, “God knows me and that’s all I need to know.”
I never went to church growing up. When I did, it didn’t make sense. God was never part of my metanarrative. I was a bit of an existential nihilist for a good long while, a bitter and disappointed cynic.
“I understand that.” I said, “But in my experience, I was made aware of all of the people who get lost in their knowing of God and what is made of that. A lot of them end up doomed to life as “chronic schizophrenics” and…some of them are really very special people. We all have different roles and I feel like I’m supposed to do something to establish that this is…important.”
Do you have any idea what it is like to be a quiet, quirky, asocial and awkward mother of two and to find oneself wholeheartedly believing that God intervened in your life in such a way as to make it clear that everything you ever lived led to this and that everything you ever might be will be because of this and in service to this…
…and to come to recognize the warmth of love that lights up your hands and sends electricity into your skin and to be constantly reminded of what you must now live for?
Some days, it’s closer than others.
I am in the midst of an exhaustion right now. I haven’t had any consistent guidance or mentorship in learning to navigate this state of grace and I fall and stumble often, though not so often as one might think – given where I was 2 years ago, I think I’ve found a fair amount of footing and have navigated quite a few potentially thwarting circumstances with wisdom and gracious certainty.
Discernment is a difficult skill to learn, especially when one has little time to study or practice and almost no support in adapting to their new found role and meaning in the world.
It’s hard. I have never been normal (seriously, I’ve always been an oddball) – but this whole God issue and the depth with which I believe it and feel no choice other than to live in its presence and for its good is…well, it’s sort of weird. I mean, it’s not like I’m all serious and heavy-handed about it. That’s not how I need to be. I just try to be myself – my best possible self – but, it’s difficult. Our lives don’t always accommodate our best selves and, frankly, I’m tired – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I really did figure out (rather I was informed of) much of how it all works and it’s ironic that what is clinically considered to be psychotic is, for me, actually rooted in deep, heartfelt logic.
Stand Still for the Apocalypse
Posted on Nov 26, 2012 By Chris Hedges
“Humans must immediately implement a series of radical measures to halt carbon emissions or prepare for the collapse of entire ecosystems and the displacement, suffering and death of hundreds of millions of the globe’s inhabitants, according to a report commissioned by the World Bank. The continued failure to respond aggressively to climate change, the report warns, will mean that the planet will inevitably warm by at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, ushering in an apocalypse…”
Yes, I know. It’s like watching a slow-motion trainwreck, and all the people by the tracks are saying, “No! Stop! You have to stop!” – but, the train conductor just tips his hat and smiles, barrels on.
We are living in a world of wildly disparate realities. Another reason I am interested in becoming a person-that-people-listen-to on the topic of transformative psychosis is because, in my extrapolative reasoning, I figure that as our constructed realities crumble and resources become scarce and we see our beautiful home become ravaged by the interests and effects of the 20th century…well, a lot of people are going to lose their minds.
I think that the combined forces of the global shift in consciousness (which is part of a cyclical pattern in ecosystemic function) and the increasingly harmful/traumatic effects of living in a threatened and threatening world are going to bring a lot of people into all sorts of poorly conceptualized and unprepared for experiences of madness…and we need to know how to respond to that encroaching reality.
I’m sorry you felt I was arguing with you. I wasn’t feeling particularly argumentative when I wrote to you, just confused.
…these are all very peculiar things to find oneself thinking about on a Tuesday evening, when my head is also cluttered with work and children and loneliness and uncertainty, because I have always been such a fucking failure. (<~ that’s not true, of course. It’s just a taught belief that I’m still in the process of debunking.)
I appreciate that you’ve responded with sincerity and I appreciate that you offer supplemental perspectives on why this is important. I’m sorry if I seem argumentative. I really don’t enjoy arguing and my tendency towards postmodern relativism in personal perspective makes most arguments moot.
I do enjoy exploring ideas and their implications, but this is not necessarily arguing.
These are important ideas we are discussing. Controversial, yes, because they call into question not only our assumptions about madness, but also our assumptions about God and our role and potential (for better or for worse) as humans in this world.
These ideas challenge people in a way that can cause them to psychologically retreat to constructs perceived to be safer, more accepted. The 20th century really fucked us all up.
I wonder if you would ever be interested in helping me to tell my story, or in helping me to find someone to help me to tell my story, in a collaborative editing process involving pulling out excerpts and reinforcing them with research?
In order to make these ideas well-known, their presentation needs to have the right balance of story and interpretation, and must be made accessible to the most number of people possible.
It must be beautiful and challenging and funny. It must offend some people.
It must offer explanation and an inspired course of action.
I think of my narrative – scattered as it is – as a sort of pandora’s box. Here we have a story that is ostensibly about one woman’s psychotically earnest efforts to prove a God that everyone could agree on for the purpose of clarifiying the effects of history and preposterously trying to saving the world. In the course of its telling, medical model psychiatry is walloped, ecopsychology is given a huge boost, and a new way of looking at the psychotic spectrum – and thus the human condition – is launched into the collective dialogue.
Thank you for your time in reading all of this and in considering my perspectives. Your attention has been very kind and I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your responses.
I am an outsider, too. It actually serves me well, this position. I am able to maintain a certain autonomy that keeps me focused on the bigger picture, without getting caught up in any consensus reality that might obscure the bigger picture.
There is more, always more, but this is long enough already and I need to go to the store to buy dog and cat food and then get ready for my daughter’s Girl Scouts meeting this afternoon.