By Jack Canfora
Which is a pity, because as minds go, it’s not totally without merit. It has no sense of direction, is hopeless at spatial relations, knows way too much about The Beatles, and drifts off topic too much for its own good, but I’ve seen worse.
Actually, I’m pretty hungry.
Where was I? However, its worst feature is that it seems to be perpetually in motion, which not only makes a mockery of Newtonian physics (which, to be clear: it’s also no good at), it often devolves into is a discordant jumble of ever-shifting, often irrelevant, and overlapping ideas.
Sometimes, sometimes, my brain has the occasional, what the hell, I’ll be generous with myself this once, “insight.”
Tragically, alas, (I’m trying to bring back “alas.” Also, “anon.” Not much progress so far; I’ll keep you posted) on those rare occasions in which all that merciless self-reflection yields a piece of worthwhile truth to myself about myself, it is usually ignored by the rest of me. What’s the point of any self-knowledge if it is inevitably told by the rest of me, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”?
I understand many of the sources of my personal weaknesses, bad habits, and sundry unflattering traits and thought patterns, but in my experience, knowledge does not equal power. In fact, it inevitably invites self-loathing (which, again, I know, don’t bother pointing it out, I heard it too: that isn’t helpful, either), because I feel too often powerless to reframe any of these things in a way that sticks. I know self-forgiveness is important. After all, as many have observed, if justice were truly meted out in a rigid manner by the universe, we’d all be in serious time-outs.
Despite this, it’s hard at times (today being one such instance) not to view my life as little more than the sum total of my mistakes. At times, I do not extend the same level of empathy to myself as I do to others. At other times, I cut myself way too much slack. To quote a fellow Long Island native, “Do I contradict myself; very well, I contradict myself.” Or another: “You may be right; I may be crazy.” Incidentally, if you had both Walt Whitman and Billy Joel on your Obscure Allusion Bingo cards, congratulations! Message me for your prize!
My heart has blocked my brain on all social media; they communicate solely through one another’s lawyers. As I’m not a wealthy man, those communications rarely extend beyond exchanging holiday cards in which both attorneys inscribe (or more likely, have their paralegals inscribe), at their clients strict instructions, a pithy and apt “F*#k You.”
Psychology and Pharma-psychology have yet to find an effective mediator for the two, despite, let’s just say, varied and copious attempts. I’ve spent so much money on prescriptions, in fact, that Pfizer regularly invites me to their Christmas parties. Let me assure you, as you’d expect with people with a limitless stream of pharmaceuticals, those cats can party. Meditation and Mindfulness training seems potentially promising, but I’ve yet to muster the will to follow through meaningfully (I’m also a nuclear weapons-grade self-sabotager).
For those of you who may have read or remember my few contributions on this post thus far, I try to end them with encouragement and at least a degree of realistic hope. Which, I won’t lie, isn’t something that comes easily to me. Learning some optimism has been a slow, erratic undertaking of mine. I truly believe that optimism comes to some like some are born with a natural gift for music. In terms of optimism, I was born with a tin ear. But I’m practicing hard nonetheless.
Where was I? Oh yes, I’m hungry. Also, ending with optimism. However, there are some days, like today, I can’t quite rise to the occasion. Which I’d argue is OK, too. None of us have it worked out. Growing up, I think I always expected I would reach an age in which suddenly, as if bequeathed to me by a distant relative, a sense of understanding how it all works. I’m embarrassed to say how long it’s taken me to realize that we are all winging it, despite what social media would have you believe, totally winging it.
And, I repeat, that’s actually OK. Otherwise, frankly, among other things, we wouldn’t need art. It would be a pity not to have art. Without suffering, we wouldn’t recognize tenderness for what it is. Our lives are more or less informed by opposition. So yes, we’re all allowed our moments of darkness. Say what you will about darkness, it draws attention the light quite nicely.
At least, that’s what I’d tell a friend feeling the same way I do. Damn. I almost had that half-way optimistic ending. Maybe next time (Ah, maybe that can qualify!).
Follow my groovy (Jesus, who am I, Shaggy from Scooby Doo? Well, I am always hungry. And talk to my dog a lot. Anyway) blog: http://www.thewritingonthepaddedwall.com
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