Seeking joy and meaning in a joyless mind and meaningless existence

Friday, November 16, 2012

One Foot In Front of the Other

I don’t know why my mood has been so low lately. I have had a run of bad luck, but in the scheme of things none of it has been too dreadful (although I do miss my little buddy an awful lot). My depression has manifest primarily in two symptoms: a lack of pleasure and a lack of concentration.
 I do work full-time, but my dearth of attachments means that I have enough disposable income and enough free time to pursue any activity or pastime. But nothing—not even mindless entertainment—interests me.  Mostly I’ve been playing one video game after another, but there are no older games or games on the horizon that spark my imagination.  (The game I was looking forward to turned out to be kind of a bust, by the way.) Plus I’ve gotten back in the habit of drinking and smoking while playing my games, which defeats the whole point of seeking healthier alternative activities.
The even more troubling symptom, however, has been a complete inability to concentrate. I always do good work in my employment, and my current position is a really good one. But trying to remain focused and “buckle down” seems to be a monumental effort. I’m hoping I can get a hold of myself before it impacts or (God forbid) ends my professional life.

The Audience That Isn’t

I’ve trying to objectively analyze the lack of appeal of this blog, outside of a few (and dwindling) die-hard friends. The Blogspot tools tell me that I get a trickle of web traffic, but I’m pretty sure no repeat visits. The primary reason has to be the “Me! Me! Me!” subject matter. I may find myself fascinating to the point of self-absorption, but that doesn’t mean anyone else will. The overall dreariness and retread of the same complaints can’t be packing them in either. My friends will tell you that my whinging repertoire isn’t very broad. I don’t really have any really close friends anymore, so I mostly confine my whinging to this blog. And that’s probably a good thing, if not exactly a public draw. Finally I’ve decided that this blog will simply never know what it is. The wildly fluctuating tone and range of subject matter probably gives the impression that I’m a raging maniac. I am moody, and my moods can be intense. But they don’t bounce around as erratically as my posts would seem to indicate. To truly find an audience, I would need to be more focused and of broader interest. Writing whatever is in my head at whatever time I happen to feel like writing, even if presented in a readable style, hasn’t turned out to be a recipe for success.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Drunkard's Dream

I have this dream of a bright future:  sustained sobriety, daily exercise and healthy eating.  I imagine how much clear-headed such a regimen could make me and how much improved my mood and anxiety levels would be.  But the siren song of drinking and short-sided monetary spending are the reality I find myself mired in.  When you don't get a lot of pleasure out of life, then it's hard to sustain a vision of a better tomorrow and the modifications in behavior necessary to effect change.  I do what is expected of me.  I hold down a job.  I pay my own bills.  But I do not thrive, and I steal enjoyment out of fragmentary moments and ill-advised choices.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why I'm Glad Obama Won

I am absolutely thrilled that President Obama won a second term! Unfortunately, a large part of that pleasure stems from some less than admirable areas of my lizard brain.

Four more years!!!
First a confession…I didn’t vote in the election. Having been called to jury duty last year, I assumed I was still on the election rolls from when I lived in Tennessee before. (I thought election rolls were the source of jury pools in every state.) By the time I actually looked into my status, it was too late for me to reinstate my eligibility.

I have a lot of latent guilt about voting anyway.  I know enough to know that it is a sacred duty and grave freedom that isn't to be taken lightly.  The problem is my flighty, neurotic personality makes it astounding that I am able to hold down a job and live independently, let alone be well-informed about all but the broadest issues.  I am particularly ill-informed when it comes to state and local issues, which can often be even more important than the national ones.  So I want to vote as an expression of a right hard won by patriotic blood, but I get annoyed with myself for not knowing more about the issues at hand.
When I lived in California, I enlisted the aid of a frighteningly well-informed and reasonably level-headed and like-minded friend to explain the issues and give background on the candidates.  Not ideal, but a better stewardship of democracy.

Taken Down a Notch

When I was living with my parents when I moved back to Memphis, every weekday evening we would have a salad together while my parents watch the O'Reilly Factor.  After a while, I could no longer join them for salad because I just couldn't stand it any longer.  Don't get me wrong...There are plenty of issues I agree with Bill O'Reilly about, and he's not a rubber-stamp conservative.  He thinks about each issue and examines it critically.

I just got so sick of talking heads!  Liberal or conservative, I just got tired of pundits and the endless blathering on both sides of the partisan divide.

But the main thing I detested, vis-à-vis this election, was the smugness!  I was fed up with the cocky way all of these people—the annoying Laura Ingraham, the dreadful Ann Coulter, the tedious Dick Morris, etc. and their undisputed king Bill O'Reilly—act as if they know everything about everything and that anyone who thinks, believes or even experiences life differently from them is a naïve fool who doesn’t know nothin’ from nothin’.

I realize that they still think that after the election. (And I certainly know that conservatives have no monopoly on snugness!)   But at least the dramatic re-election of Obama will dampen their enthusiasm and handicap their attitude that they’re prescient wizards with their finger on the pulse of the American people. They believe white, heterosexual middle-America epitomizes this nation, and they finally learned the true meaning of diversity.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fear...Nothing But Fear

As I've mentioned repeatedly, one impediment to self-improvement has always been that I honestly believe some calamity will befall me if things start going well or if I move my life in the direction I want it to be.  I don't know how this fallacy took such a deep hold on my psyche, but then I don't know where most of my pathologies come from given my idealized childhood.
I drank both Friday and Saturday night this past weekend, but on Saturday my mother came over and helped me set up my bedroom properly.  Even thought I've been in my apartment for about six months, I've been sleeping on the floor on a two inch mattress from my sofa bed.  Last week I finally got a proper bed.  So my mother helped me hang pictures, set up lamps and furniture, etc.  She also bought me some new shirts as an early birthday present because she couldn't stand the way my unfortunate gut stretched the buttons on my old, pre-fattie shirts.
I kept the momentum going on Sunday by continuing to work on my apartment and getting my clothes washed, ironed and ready for the work week.  This morning I got up on time (as opposed to the last possible second to get up and get to work at the last possible second).  I got my healthy food together for today, including my power shake*.  I'm planning to go to the gym tonight, but as changeable as my nature is, we'll just have to see.
All of this momentum (minus the recent drinking) is wonderful, but it makes me incredibly anxious.  So much so that I usually give up very quickly, and the early dark of winter certainly doesn't help my mood.  However, I'm trying to keep in mind that I'm certainly not getting any younger (43 in December) but that I haven't completely given up on my dreams.  To use an old cliché:  Time will tell...
*My "Power Shake"
I truly believe good nutrition will go a long way in helping me with my psychological problems, and it certainly can't hurt.  I'm trying to generally eat better and with a diet that respects my pre-diabetic condition, which I've largely ignored in the three and a half months since my doctor warned me of the impending danger.  Anyway, I'm trying to get it together to make and consume a "power shake" every morning.  Basically I blend together the following:
  • Six ounces of plain Greek yogurt
  • Half a cup of skim milk
  • Two tablespoons of Stevia sweetener
  • Two tablespoons of flax seed
  • One scoop of Alive! Ultra-Shake  (This products packs in an amazing amount of nutrition and is chock full of healthy supplements.)
  • Frozen berries (no sugar added) to taste and for that "smoothie" consistency
It actually tastes all right, though it might not be everybody's cup of tea.  I'm hoping it will assist me on the path to a better, less-anxious tomorrow.