I am not unfamiliar with the accusation that I am self-absorbed. In fact some of you reading this might be kind of half-grinning thinking the thought balloon: understatement of the year. I have my reasons for being self-absorbed, one of them being my tenuous grip on reality. Often I think things are much better than they actually are because I willfully ignore the s--- that is hitting the fan in my own little world and in the somewhat larger world. At other times I see all that s--- magnified about 1000X and I chew off all my fingernails. No, actually, I'm lying, I'm not a nail-biter. I should be, because it would be a good replacement for smoking, and I'm needing something.
The international news today made no impression on me whatsoever. I didn't even understand the New York Times headlines. Other days the headlines tempt me to hurl breakable objects against the wall. I can be every bit as angry as my friend Stacia, though it's not becoming in a woman of my age who is supposed to possess wisdom to balance things in her mind. Lately I've been crying about things, sometimes personal things and sometimes things happening half a world away---I don't feel like there's a damn thing I can do about many things that are close to me and tangible, let alone things that are happening as a result of f---ed up decisions being made by people with power they should never have been given.
The past two weeks have been a m-----f---ing nightmare in many ways, mostly personal. In the bigger world, it seems like there's plenty of negative s---.
This blog entry is an exercise in employing the hyphen. I don't mean to suggest that I've lost my capacity for laughter and raucousness. We had a real live spring day today all day, and that was wonderful---I mean it, though sometimes the word wonderful has a hard time breaking through the police tape around the crime scene (have I been watching too much CSI and Law & Order??? Actually, I only enjoy the latter; CSI is too gory for my weak stomach and after a couple of episodes I decided to avoid it).
Money is tight, health is poor, I haven't written a sane poem in three weeks, and sometimes it really does suck that I can't just chain smoke for an hour until my system shifts into a tolerable gear, or have a beer or a Cosmo or three and flush out my brain with music so loud I can't hear a single thought. I can get nostalgic, think about the club called The Cage in Providence, RI, where I used to go almost every Sat. my senior year in college with two gay guys. I was always the designated driver so I wouldn't drink much but the music was VERY LOUD and I could dance with the one guy and then the other all night and get a workout even better than a two hour ice hockey practice. Oh, I must not have gone to the Cage every Sat. with those guys, because there was the small matter of my boyfriend---I shouldn't say small, he was six foot seven---he never came to the Cage with us.
So it may seem I'm stuck in the past. Eckhardt Tolle in The Power of Now says you should REALLY forget the past so as to be in the moment; I agree more with others who say you can still think about the past even though you do attempt mindfulness and presence to the moment.
I don't think history books and museums are the bane of our human existence. I do believe we can learn from our mistakes.
I have heard it said that poets and other writers tend to be HAUNTED by their pasts, and that this is a big reason why they write. Others who don't write are less haunted. Is this a rather negative take on what being a writer is all about??? Writers often have more complete memories of the past. When I last saw my college roommate Ellen in 2000, I brought up a lot of common experience and she stared at me like I was some kind of comedian. She couldn't believe I remembered all that s---. Is she a lot healthier than me??? Well, she thinks so. She didn't speak to me for months after that visit and when she finally did she said she had decided not to have anything further to do with anyone who was mentally ill. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I chain-smoked during that visit and didn't climb up on the rocks when we went to the shore and do yoga with her against the backdrop of the ocean and the setting sun. Why didn't I?
My excuse was I was wearing clogs. A pretty good excuse if you ask me, considering the fact that the only time in my life I have ever sprained my ankle I was wearing clogs.
So why am I writing all this??? Am I trying to figure out what's wrong with me??? I already know that, you'd think, right??? Am I trying to prove I'm as self-absorbed as I say I am? Well, what if I'd begun this blog entry saying I was self absorbed and then written a whole long blog about the poor in Calcutta? I promise, mental illness carries with it almost a guarantee of self-absorption, as the sick person struggles to relate to a past self who makes no sense, or to one who makes a lot more sense than the current self.
Life is meaningful, even when your housemate has Ellen Degeneres turned up loud in the next room. Life makes sense, as long as you realize that people exist who in certain situations appear to have no souls or no sense of morality or decency or ability to act out of goodness and kindness---and you realize that people who appear this way publically are probably kind and gentle at home with their families. I guess the problem is a lot of people don't see that their behavior in the macrocosm CAN reflect the same lovingkindness they employ in their relationships with friends and family, and that IF IT DID, the world would not be such a f---ed up place.