How long do coughs and congestion last from a cold or flu? To what degree does a person need to protect themselves when in a relationship with a person with bi-polar disorder, especially when this person is unwilling to seek treatment for bi-polar disorder? How often should I exercise? Why do I read so much? Is there a way that I will ever complete the novels that I want to complete writing? How does one start a new life in middle-age? Is it wrong to lack a happy social life? Where does all this coffee I drink go? Why don’t I embrace new artistic practices, such as the decalcomania technique that surrealists often used? Do I really need to be reading a novel as disturbing as J.G Ballard’s “Crash?” How good am I really at self-care? At what point should I buy new converse shoes and throw away the ones I have? Whose right is it to tell me what to do anyways? Where has my interest in style gone? To what degree is boiling water bad for me? Where is it that I expect I will find things I am looking for? Is it healthy to be married to someone who is in a sexual relationship with someone else and often does not think about consequences of certain decisions made while with this person? At what point can we legitimately claim that another person is out of control? Why am I more willing, much more willing, to drive for thirteen hours rather than flying for two? Do magazines really exist which could make me feel better about the life I am living? At what point is my use of sex and sexuality simply an effort to do something interesting in my bored life? Why do I often feel not that different from a potted plant? For what reason do I continue to be friendly and nice to people who obviously harshly judge me? At what point can I trust my intuition about other people’s motivations and feelings? How come I keep avoiding my desk? Why is it that I would rather read than be doing anything else? Is there something wrong in my relationship or in my mind that causes me to often not feel sexual? At what point is too much sex and at what point is too much sex causing life to become chaotic and disorganized? Is the individual the most qualified to have the final word on their own mental state? Where is my ability to escape from things that are not good for me? Is it ok that I eat so much bread? Why can’t I get myself to go to the market more often and keep a regular supply of fruits and vegetables in my house? Why is it that I buy a lot of records but do not listen much to them? Is technology destroying my attention span and mental health? Is this idea of subjecting myself to cold a bad idea? Why am I only able to be aroused by that which is not loving towards me? Will all the art I have made end up in the trash? Should I drink a few beers today or remain free from poisonous alcohol? Is there a good time for anything? Is it healthy that I remain interested in someone because that someone is not interested in me in the same way? Do I try too hard in relationships? Is it wrong to want your wife to be a hooker while still expecting her to be a healthy partner person? Is there any value to be found in art anymore? At what point is my reading of books an addiction, which is having a negative effect on my life. Is it ok that my parents really show little interest in anyone but themselves? How much snow exposure is good for a person? How often should someone be exposed to higher elevations? At what point are spiritually inclined people rolling around in their own bullshit? Am I better off remaining divorced from any specific belief system? Are those who don’t ask questions better off? Is my dog more mentally stable and healthy than I am? Should I be eating more meat and butter and eggs? Is it a poor choice to drink strong coffee in the morning and not eat much till noon? Should I be going for a walk right when I wake up every morning? Am I better off physically and emotionally when not in a relationship? What is it about me that remains in relationship with those who have harmed me in the past? Is my iPhone addiction destroying my life? Is other people’s iPhone addictions causing me to feel alone? Why can’t I motivate myself to go to the farmer’s market and get the food I need? Do I really need to avoid the outside world so much so that I am willing to forgo having the healthy food I need in order to avoid interactions with other people? At what point will I find peace in my life? Is peace possible for me in current conditions? Is it naive to seek peace from life as it is naive to seek stability from a person with untreated borderline personality disorder? Is my brain what is making all of this so difficult or are there other organs involved?
There is a kind of banality to his thinking. I like his essays but there is banality in them. But maybe there is banality in everything. Maybe no artist or writer escapes from some degree of banality. I am sure there is plenty of banality in what I write. But maybe not. Banality is a personality thing. It is a crisis of soul. It is a simplification of personality. Banality is a depth problem. Often times people are not willing or able to go deep enough to surpass banality. Plus banality sells since most people are looking for art or entertainment that reconfirms their own banality. But I am always looking for art, writing, film and other things which lack banality. Richard Prince’s essays, or what I have read of Richard Prince’s essays, have banality in them. Not totally banal. There is interesting things within these essays, and I will keep reading them for this reason, but the personality writing these essays does suffer some degree of banality. I am sure he would admit to this. Most of our personalities succumb to some degree of banality. I resist this. In continual resistance to the banalization of my personality. Maybe I should give in. Maybe life would be easier if I just let go and surrender to banality. But I continually seek out an absence of banality. I seek it out through drugs, through sex and women, through music and through literature. I am often told that I should meet new people but most meetings with people, if not all, are banal. So I prefer to avoid meeting new people. I prefer to limit my interactions with people (unless they are naked, female and very attractive which does not happen often) because people equal the banal. But I am always seeking out people who are not banal. Artistic expression that is absent of the banal. I come across it not often. I spend a lot of money on books and records hoping that I will find the antidote to the banal in them and often I do not. But sometimes I do and these moments are ecstatic for me. I become very happy because I have hope that it is possible to live without becoming banal. That there are people out there who have forged a way of life and a mode of self expression that omits the banal. Few of them are interested in personal development and yoga. These things have banality built in to them. They lack honesty and integrity. I seek out expression that is fresh and free of all conformity and censorship. People whose personality has not yet been marginalized. These moments are why I continually go to book stores and record stores. Every time I go to a book store and record store there is the slight possibility that I will discover something that provides me with moments of hope and ecstasy. Where the world will not be such a banal place and there is the hope of surpassing this human condition. It is a temporary elation because soon after finishing the book and/or record the hope and the ecstasy dissipate. I will then go in search for someone else, some other artist or writer who has yet to succumb to banality. It is a continual effort on my part to ward off banality and each artist or author whom I find who has avoided the banalization of their artistic expression and personality gives me the hope and courage I need to carry on.
What is it with me? Why do I feel so uncomfortable socially? I get around people and I feel like my breath constricts. I become dizzy. I am being sucked into myself and working hard to stay out. I can’t think straight. I can’t talk straight. I say things that I don’t really mean. I say things that surprise me. I feel like everything is moving fast. What is this? Social anxiety? But I should be way beyond social anxiety. I am a successful psychologist. I feel confident with myself. I meditate every morning. But I get around other people and lose myself. I forget about my feet touching the ground. I lose my grip. Why is this? Is it because I do not like people and I am being forced to be friendly with people? Is it because I feel like I can not be myself around other people? Is it because I become confused about who I am when around other people? I don’t understand. When I am alone I am happy to be alone. When I am alone I feel disdain towards other people. I want to be away from all people. I am happy separated from other humans. But is this because I really do not like other people or is it because I am so insecure and confused when around other people that it is much easier being alone? I had a father who crushed my sense of self growing up. He made a habit out of putting me down. I could do nothing right. If I did not do what he thought was right I was condemned and brutalized. Could my current confusion and anxiety around other people be rooted in this? Is my confused sense of a social self a result of growing up in an environment where everything I did was wrong? What does it even mean to be yourself? What is myself anyways? Who am I? I don’t think I have a real sense of this because it is always changing. But I see others around other people. They seem calm and relaxed in themselves. For me it is not like that. Sometimes it is but I often feel unsettled. I feel like I am struggling not to come off as a fool. Is it because I do not want to be talking with these people but I am forcing myself to do it and as a result feel like I am being a fraud? I have a difficult time being disingenuous. I am not good at it. I have been told that I am not fit for human interaction because I can’t fake it. Because I can’t play the social game. But I try. I really do. And maybe this is what makes me feel so uncomfortable around others. This inability to be my curmudgeonly self. My inability to be the introverted, anti-social weirdo that I am when around others. I have to come off like I am a man of positive and responsible standing but this is not really who I am. There is this divide between the person I am and the person I create for you. But we all do this to an extent. Why does in make me so anxious? Why can’t I just be calm and easy when talking with others? Why do I feel this shaking ground in me every time I talk to another? Maybe it is something I will never understand. Maybe I am just socially ill equipped and that is just the way I am.
I strive to become a recluse. It is something I am working on fully achieving. I work at it each day. Being comfortable and even happy alone. It takes work.
Fully achieving becoming a recluse may be different than how you think of it. I don’t want to become the kind of recluse you most likely have embedded in your mind.
I have wanted to be a recluse for most of my life. When I went on a river rafting trip with my father at the age of 14 or 15 I saw a hermit’s shack on the edge of the river. When my father described to me who lived there and what a hermit was, I knew that I wanted to be that when I grew up.
I am an introverted kind of guy. I like social interaction but only for brief periods. I can only handle so much of people. Also, if my social interaction is not deep, if it is more superficial, I am very drained by it. Because most human interaction tends to be more superficial, I prefer to limit the amount I interact with other people.
I would rather listen to records, read, write, make art, meditate- spend my time doing things that feel like they have more depth.
Being a recluse means being comfortable, engaged and satisfied alone. A recluse does not seek out being social. It is nice being social sometimes, but given the choice a recluse would prefer being alone, doing things they like to do on their own. A recluse values an environment where no one is talking so that they can be more focused on their own inner state.
I suppose you can say that the recluse is interested in self-realization rather than social-realization. But in American culture social-realization is what is valued. You should be social. You need to be social. You need to get out and do things. If you don’t you are missing out. This is what we are taught and told from a very young age.
People who are not that social are labeled anti-social. They are made to feel like they are doing something wrong and unhealthy. A person can develop real guilt and shame around wanting to be alone. As a result, when a person is alone they end up feeling lonley.
For the longest time I have struggled with being more introverted and reclusive. I have felt bad about it. I have felt like I am missing out on having fun with other people. I have felt lonely because I am alone. These are all normal things people who prefer to be alone most of the time go through. Admitting that you want to be a recluse, that you prefer your solitude is almost a taboo in America. Something about it feels very un-American even though America has a rich history of recluses and hermits.
Fully embracing being a recluse has been a struggle for me. My daily practice of meditation has certainly helped me to feel more comfortable in my solitude and aloneness. Meditation has allowed me to develop a deep and rich relationship with myself, which is necessary for the recluse to have. For a long time I did not have this deeper relationship with myself. When I was alone I felt lonely.
Lonliness can happen with people or without them. Loneliness is the result of not being comfortable with yourself. It is the result of being dependent on others to make you feel better. It is possible to be alone and never feel lonely. Aloneness without lonliness is called solitude.
And now that I have cultivated being alone, I prefer solitude. I look forward to solitude. I find solitude to be very enriching, calming and want more of it.
I have a wife. I run a business. For ten years I have been working a highly social job where I have to interact at deep and often painful levels with people. I think that because of the exhaustion this caused, I was compelled to seek out more solitude.
To be in the world but not of the world. This is what the recluse lives by. I still want to work with other people. I still want to spend time with my wife and with family and friends. But spending time in solitude has become more of a priority for me. I need it.
Being a recluse means that I spend more time in solitude than I do not. When I am done working or spending time with people, I return back into solitude. It is the return to solitude that is important to me. I do not need solitude all the time. Normally we think of a recluse as someone who has completely withdrawn from the world. Maybe one day, but for now I am comfortable just seeking out more extended periods of solitude between the noise.
As a recluse, I cultivate these moments of solitude like a farmer cultivates crops. I contemplate, meditate, write, listen and engage “my soul” (for lack of a better word) in a deeper way. These moments of solitude generate something very enriching within me that allows me to be more present for people. But like all recluses, there is only so much I can give to other people before I really need to be alone.
Becoming the kind of recluse that I want to be means knowing when I have given enough, when I am done seeking approval, interaction or acknowledgement from other people and then feeling good about withdrawing from the world, back into my own quiet space where I can do the things I like to do most.
My dog stands at the door staring at me. Does he see food or does he see me? I often wonder this and can feel dislike towards him when I think he sees me as his food source and not as a human being. I realize that it is ridiculous that I am getting upset with my dog for not seeing me as a human being. For only paying attention to me because he wants food. I am troubled in this way. I take things too personally and get upset over things many would consider illogical. But these offenses stick in my mind. People who did not return my texts or emails. People who stopped talking with me without any notification as to why. People who do not treat me with the kindness and respect I feel I deserve. I will be bothered by these people for longer periods then I would like. Sometimes my anger towards them will still be in my mind months later. I suppose that when wronged I hold a grudge. It does not take much to make me feel wronged. If I write you a text and you do not promptly respond, within a day or so, I will feel wronged. I will stop talking to you and dislike you until you do right by me. When I see you, I will still carry a grudge. I realize that it is absurd to carry a grudge towards my dog because I feel he only sees me as a way to get food rather than as a human being. Is this how women feel with regards to men only seeing them as sexual objects? Do women feel angry towards men because men refuse to see the person that they are? Men seem to be looking at women, but women can never be sure if the men see them as a piece of meat or as a human being. But it is equally as absurd for a woman to get upset at a man for not seeing her as a human being as it is for me to get upset with my dog. It is a man’s biological nature to see women as a sexual objects. This is how babies get made. To expect a man to see a woman as a human being and not as a sexual object is not logical. It is as absurd as expecting my dog to not see me as a food source. I realize that my dog’s fundamental reason for paying attention to me, for his loyalty to me is because I feed him. My dog is an animal and values eating first and foremost. He does not value love and attention. These values are projected upon him by humans. What he values is being fed. Being fed is love for him. Everything else is second best. It is his animal nature. In moments of clarity I can realize this and stop being frustrated with him for always wanting food from me. I can see that it is not personal. It is just what he does. It is his nature to see me as a source of food. It may be annoying but it is not personal. It is the same with women. First and foremost women are sexual objects to men. This is a woman’s function as far as male biology is concerned. Women are sexual objects to be used to gratify a man’s sexual desires. This is how babies are made. Few women understand this and are able to participate in the pleasure and fulfillment of being able to be happily used as a sexual object by a man. Sex is only as fun as it can be when a woman lets herself be a sexual object to be used by a man for sexual fulfillment and when the man does not feel guilty about this. Then what fun sex can be! What an exchange it is! The majority of women get upset by this, take it personally and frustrate the sexual experience. It is not dissimilar to when I get angry at my dog for seeing me as just a food source, for not caring about me at all unless I am feeding him and then I refuse to feed him for several days or a week in an act of protest against his unwillingness to see me as a human being with feelings. I realize that this stand-off is not good for either of us and of course my wife will end up feeding the dog and telling me to get over it. But it is difficult to get over it. We want to be respected. We want to be seen as human beings. We want our humanity to be valued rather than used. We want these things even from dogs.
Good towels are important. I am always in a worse mood when the towels grow old and dirty. When my towels are old and dirty I feel poor. I imagine that those who are poor live with dirty and old towels. But I understand this is presumption on my part. I am sure there are many rich people who are too lazy to indulge their ability to have nice and clean towels. They are most likely miserable and depressed as I once was (and sometimes still am). I once had great towels. I had the best towels money could buy. I was a successful psychologist and had enough money to afford good towels. I would buy new towels every few months. I would throw out the old ones. Few things helped me to confront the weight of the work day ahead like a good towel after my morning shower. But I have quit being a psychologist. I could handle it no more. I have worked many jobs in my life. Terrible, low-level jobs. None were worse than being a psychologist. When I was working as a psychologist I looked upon my days working as a waiter or a shoe salesman with great envy and romanticism. Being a psychologist was tormenting. I suffered terribly. My hair grayed and thinned. I got testicular cancer. I knew this could be the case when I was in graduate school and saw two of my professors who worked as psychologists get sick and pass away. I knew then that being a psychologist was not healthy when my therapist’s mentor, who was a psychologist, jumped from a bridge. That there was something fundamentally toxic about working the job. But I stuck with it. I needed the money and the social legitimacy. And I tried. For many years I was a very successful psychologist. I had waiting lists. I saw ten clients a day, four days a week. People knocked on my door to meet me and try to get a session while I was in session with someone else. I was miserable. It was sickening sitting there, stuck in chair, stuck listening to the banality and monotony of other people’s problems, all the day. There is nothing more tormenting and banal than other people’s problems. The worst part of my work as a psychologist was having to be happy to see each client. To treat each client like they were my first client of the day when in reality, after my second client, I was not happy to see my third client. It was tormenting. Having to be fake to keep my reputation good. Having to care about people I could not stand. Having to have conversations with people who were so boring that they could make glaciers melt with their words. No, I am a psychologist no more. It was not the right fit for me. I am already a person who is not fit for human interaction. I had no business being a psychologist. What a miserable career. But now I do not own many nice towels. The towels I do have were once nice. A relic from my more economically prosperous days. But towels age just like we do. Now that I am not a psychologist I can not afford the luxuries. When I was a psychologist I had a multitude of luxuries but could not enjoy them. I have to make do with the towels I have for now. I try to take care of them. I try to slow their aging. As a result of once being a successful psychologist I have collected an arsenal of nice things. Nice clothes, nice furniture, nice eye glasses, nice stereo equipment and on and on. But now that I am not a psychologist I must preserve the nice things I acquired as a result of my miserable job. It’s ok. Luxuries did not make me happy. After the initial thrill of buying a nice thing wore off I lost interest in it. I am better off preserving what I have. But good towels did make me happy for a period of time. I miss the presence of good towels. New towles. There are consequences from the choices we make
I have little ambition to do anything. I just want to sit here on the toilet and think. Is motivation something that vanishes like money or air? Does it gradually dissipate? Does a person get so beaten down by life that motivation or ambition gets worn out? Like a break pad? I have to force myself to do most things. I am not interested in much. Sex grabs my attention. I can be interested in all things sexual, but motivating myself to do something sexual is a different story. The fantasies dominate my mind but there is little fuel for action. I have little interest in doing anything really. I have a large record and book collection and on most days these objects are a burden. I don’t want to read or listen. I have to force myself to listen to records since I have spent so much money on them. I have always wanted to write novels. Everyday I have to force myself to write. I am continually forcing myself to do everything I do. What comes innately? Very little. Everything requires a push. Even going into my backyard. Maybe this is why I have no motivation or ambition to do anything. I use most of it up just to keep the basics going. To exercise, to eat, to get dressed, to earn money. After these things there is little left. When young I presumed I would do my great work when older. I would accomplish the things I wanted to do when older. For now, I told myself, I will just enjoy my life. For now, I told myself, I will just experience being young. For now, I told myself, I will be free. When I get older, I told myself, then I will get down to work. The things I have told myself have never worked out as told. Now that I am older I still tell myself that I will get down to work another day. Obviously it is not in the proverbial deck of cards for me. I am now older and have the equivalent motivation as a car with a gas tank almost on empty. I don’t want to do anything. I am so unotivated that I need my wife to drive me places if I am to go anywhere. If I do almost anything I need someone else to do it for me. Left to my own resources I will not do a thing. I will clean. I will read a few pages in a book. I will ignore everything else. But I have never wanted to do anything. I may have had more energy when younger but I did not have more motivation or ambition. These things have always alluded me. Now I lack the requisite energy and interest. I am a flat balloon. A wallflower. A dyspeptic bundle of unrealized dreams. A dweller in fantasy. Yet I still have the belief that I can do it. I still think that this illusive motivation is to be found someplace and I will utilize it to manifest the things I want to do. I tell myself. I tell myself. I tell myself. I know that despite my lack of interest in anything. Despite my absent motivation to do anything I must keep at it. My time may never come, I tell myself, but I must keep pushing through. I must keep forcing myself. I tell myself I must get back to work. I tell myself I must keep writing. I tell myself I have several good novels in me but don’t know how much time on planet earth I have left. I tell myself now is the time to get down to work. I tell myself I will do it. But today comes and I don’t have the motivation or energy to do anything. My desk has a magnetic forcefield around it that pushes me in the opposite direction. Tomorrow I will. Maybe later today. But little is of interest to me. Beyond the idea of watching a naked woman have sex, I get excited by nothing. To force myself to do something when the interest is gone is a Herculean undertaking. I’d rather sit here on this toilet and think. Ask my wife to order Take Out.