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Memores acti prudentes futuri


We were standing there when the moon broke through
and I wonder still what it meant to you
A few words
"When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness."
~ D.H. Lawrence

"Is the meaning of life defined by its duration? Or does life have a purpose so large that it doesn't have to be prolonged at any cost to preserve its meaning?"

"Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can... He will always think of life in terms of quality not quantity... Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is... even if it is true that while there is life there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost."
~ Seneca

"People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world's about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don't need to last forever to be perfect."
~ Daydream Nation

"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories-- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
~ The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

"The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me - not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience - that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as well disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road."
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
~ William Blake
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Names
Friday, July 6, 2018
For whatever reason, I seem to have developed some rather strong convictions about names and their usage. I don't think I have recorded these thoughts in any cohesive form before, so this seemed like as good a time as any to finally write them down.

I guess, first off, we have to define what a name is. A name is an identification, a way of being known to others. A name helps to specify and separate from the crowd. I don't have a problem with these things.

What I have an issue with is the idea of having a "real" name. I feel like it ties into the concept of having one true singular identity. There are many ways we can be in the world, and not all cultures have this idea of the One True Self. On top of this quibble, the "real name" people expect is almost universally one's given/legal name. I didn't choose my given name, it was picked for me before I was even born. I never had a say in it, but it's what I have to go by legally. Also, at this point in my life, it's so worn into me that trying to ask people to call me something different would be tremendously inconvenient. It has little or nothing to do with who I am as a person, though.

The names I choose for myself feel more meaningful. I've always had an affinity for nicknames, and I think that's part of why I like the internet so much. Here, I get to be known by the name I make for myself. There's none of the baggage that comes with my given name. My identity is malleable and free-flowing. The recent trend of social media sites forcing you to put your "real name" on your profile bothers me not just for privacy reasons, but for principle conflicts as well.

I don't want to have to condense multiple ways of being in the world under one header. I am different with different people, but I am always myself, and I don't want to box myself in with a single name. My various usernames are branches of me. There is also an underlying namelessness that I feel, which seems better addressed by having multiple names than by pretending there is only one name which can encompass everything. It is the difference between trying to represent a circle with many straight lines and trying to represent a circle with one line. I will not be reduced.

At the same time, there is a practicality that I understand in having one name across all dimensions of life. It simplifies things. It's easier, less of a hassle, less messy and uncontained. I know that my feelings on this subject could be framed as drama, "making a big deal out of nothing," and so on. There's always that tension between objective and subjective. Does it really matter? No, and yes at the same time. None of this is "real" in any objective sense. These things only matter because they are made real through thought and speech and sharing with others. As I get older, I find I don't run into as many people who don't understand this interaction, but it's still something to remember.

Anyway, yeah, names. That's a thing.

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Saints and blood
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
I donated blood today. The technician who attended to me was named Dymphna, and I commented that I'd never heard that name before. She told me that Dympnha was the patron saint of the mentally ill. The story goes that Dympnha was the daughter of a pagan Irish king and a beautiful Christian woman who died when Dympnha was young. In his grief, the king went mad. His advisers suggested he remarry, but he refused to marry anybody who was not as beautiful as his dead wife, and became fixated on his daughter. Dymphna fled to the town of Geel in what is now Belgium, but her father tracked her down and, when she refused his advances, he cut off her head.

After her death, the people of Geel started taking the mentally ill into their homes and caring for them, not as patients but as "boarders" who are integrated into normal life. They don't try to treat them or change them, they just live with them and accept them as people.

Anyway, I just thought that was interesting, as well as oddly appropriate.

---

I've been feeling sad lately, and my dad knocked on my door tonight and told me I got a package. I didn't remember buying anything, but I opened the box and found this:

Knew immediately it was from Kyle and felt cared for. It's hard to talk to any of my other friends about how I'm feeling in the moment. Even when he's not around to respond though, I feel like I can message him to say whatever and it's okay.

---

I've been listening to Vansire's Angel Youth album today. It's dreamy and sweet with little touches of sadness here and there.

"Moon Hits" by Vansire.

Oh we were standing there
When the moon broke through
And I wonder still
What it meant to you

Do the months roll by
When you're far from home
Are you doing fine
Have you grown wistful on your own?


---

I'm waiting on my therapist to give me a call so I can schedule an appointment and talk to him about the dreams I've been having.

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Birds
Friday, June 29, 2018
Trevor and I were talking about an idea he has for a startup, and I ended up looking at a bunch of bird pictures online for name inspiration. Found Glenn Bartley's website, which is full of beautiful bird photos from the Americas.

I'm so full of awe and grateful to be living in a day and age where I can see these gorgeous photos. Thinking about the work it took for this photographer to travel around and find all these birds, and everything that went into editing and the technology required to deliver these images to my screen here in my home... It's really just astounding, honestly. So much goes into it, and we take it for granted that we can search all these images on Google. Hardly give any photo more than a few seconds' glance. It's such a shame.

Still, I'm happy I can see these. It's important to be grateful for the good things in life.

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Having cake and eating it too
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Thinking about money, and the way it's been valued in my family. We probably could have made a lot of money by investing in different things or focusing more on it. Sometimes I speculate on how much more financially well off I could have been if things were done differently. That's in the vein of counterfactual thinking and isn't productive, though.

I don't know that things would necessarily be better with more money. They could be worse... just with more money. My dad isn't focused on making as much money as he can or taking the largest share for himself he can get, and I think being more money-focused would be incongruent with traits in him that I value. He is kind and generous and considerate. He is unselfish and calm. Those don't seem like things worth giving up for more money.

Sometimes I feel like I can have everything I want if I just work hard enough, but maybe that's not true. Maybe I can't have a lot of money and also be the kind of person I aspire to be. Not everything is compatible or can be contained in the same person. I devote much of my mental energy to improving myself, and if I cared enough, maybe I could be using that to learn how to invest instead. Maybe I could only make a lot of money by sacrificing other valuable things. It's all tradeoffs. I have to think about what I really value and put my energy into that.

I need to remember not to expect too much from other people, too. Nobody can do everything. There are limits on what I can ask for from people without them having to take energy and resources away from what they care about. Have to keep reminding myself...

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Chasing authenticity
Thursday, June 21, 2018
I had a meeting with a prof today, and we ended up talking about one of my past relationships. I commented that I seem to have conflated difference with authenticity in the past, and she agreed. I've had this repeated experience of thinking someone was authentic and real because they didn't conform, but it's possible to be different and still be putting on a persona. It's possible to not be in touch with yourself and just have a different mold you're fitting yourself into than that of most people.

Maybe I take my ego strength for granted. I have sought out painful feedback and criticism and tried to find the constructive threads in it. I was raised on criticism, not compliments. I've learned not to crumble when something threatens my self-image. All those years of not entirely trusting myself to be correct, I guess. Nowadays I sometimes feel like I've veered too much into trusting myself and I need to step back again. It's a constant battle between maintaining humility and openness and feeling too self-assured. Maybe I've gotten too many compliments, haha. All that positive feedback has put me up on a pedestal and I keep wanting to guard myself from falling off. I don't want to become overly confident and arrogant, nor to think I always know what's right. I don't want to be blind to my own flaws. I also don't want to talk the talk and not walk the walk. Virtue signaling is gross.

I could have done better in some of my interactions recently, and I've been thinking about that. I would give myself a B- I guess. Maybe a C+. I know I am capable of doing much more than I have, but it does require me to be mindful and take a step back and swallow my own defenses, which is hard when to do when it's not happening on both sides. It's not productive to have an exchange mindset like that, though. My code of behavior is for how I want to act in the world, and I am striving to uphold that even when it doesn't feel like it's deserved. Need to remind myself of that sometimes. Life covers itself over, as Heidegger said...

It's hard to connect all my thoughts in a linear readable way, but I'm thinking about Maslow's hierarchy at the moment. More specifically, the idea of self-transcendence which is often left out of the model taught in school. At this point in my life, I feel like that's what I'm most interested in. Self-actualization is idealized in American culture, and self-transcendence less emphasized. It's late and I'm tired, so I'm not going to bother defining everything here, but the gist of it is that self-actualization is about fulfilling your potential and higher needs (e.g. intellectual, aesthetic) as opposed to lower ones like food and safety. Self-transcendence is about going beyond yourself. I think I want to connect with someone who also values that, but it's harder to find when you're not religious or some kind of new age hippie.

Some people say they met the love of their life when they were in middle age, 40s or 50s or even beyond. I hope I don't have to wait that long, but it seems hard to meet people who can appreciate what I have to offer. Being liked for being pretty and smart is... dissatisfying. Those are parts of me but they're not what make me an individual. It feels more meaningful when people appreciate me for my perspectives, for my choices in life, for what I create and what I challenge myself to do. For my journey. I want to find someone about whom I can appreciate those things too. I hope we can encourage and hold each other's authentic selves, including all the unsavory shadowy parts and the frustrating parts and the ugly parts. I hope we can have fights where we yell and cry and still love each other after. I hope we can have misunderstandings that hurt us but which get resolved and leave us stronger than we were before. I hope we can have faith in each other.

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Variation on a dream
Monday, June 18, 2018
Occasionally I have dreams that I'm trapped somewhere and monsters/zombies/aliens/diseased people are closing in on me. Last night I had one of those.

In the dream, I was in an abandoned kitchen with my family, and we were desperately trying to figure out if we could hide from the creatures who were coming to kill us. I think they were mutated humans or something, kind of like the monsters in I Am Legend. We couldn't stop them from coming in, and none of the cupboards were big enough to hide in. The creatures burst into the house and fell upon us, and I watched them kill my dad. For some reason I got the idea to try to be aggressively confident and yell at them, and that seemed to work as camouflage somehow. They thought I was one of them because of how I was acting. I kept it up and they didn't kill me. Later on, I led a group of other survivors through the new society that was built by these other humans, and protected us from detection by maintaining my aggressive and boisterous demeanor.

I guess this dream stood out to me because usually there's no escape in these kinds of dreams. The creatures are taking over the world and I have no chance against them. I'm not sure what the significance is of my new ability to blend in with them and plot to subvert their dominance, but it feels very different than how these dreams have been for me in the past. I didn't have the hopeless fear that's more typical of them.

Wish I could talk to my therapist about it, but nothing's going to happen until July. I have an intake appointment scheduled for Friday though, so the process is at least getting started.

Tonight I talked to someone I hadn't chatted with in six months and it was really nice. It was just banter, but I feel like it scratched an itch I wasn't fully aware I had. At the end, he said he needed to sleep, and added "It was good catching up don’t make me break the ice next time after 6 months," so I joked that I'd message him first in six months instead. Not sure when we'll next talk, but I enjoyed our conversation a lot and would like to talk more than once every six months, I think. Guess we'll see how things go.

---

In other news... I have gotten sucked back into incremental games. I have three different ones running right now. >_> They're easy to get into because they don't require my full attention and I can play them while I'm doing other things, but there aren't a lot of good ones. I feel like I'd appreciate this genre even more than I already do if I understood the math that goes into these things, but ah well. I can enjoy them on a surface level, anyway.

"Want To Believe" by Rich Aucoin.

Have I found what I needed?
Can you ever conceive it?
If I heard it in nothing, will I see it in something?

In times like this, I want to be a believer

Am I hardly existing?
Can I see what I’m missing?
When I die, is it ending?
Can I go on pretending?

In times like this, I want to be a believer

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Sense of self, boundaries, being engulfed
Friday, June 15, 2018
We talk in my program about clients who cannot tolerate certain types of people for the fear of being engulfed. These people have poor senses of self and are easily permeated by others. They don't know how to hold their own against someone else's affect/emotions. In therapy, this type of person might fear a therapist who is too warm and supportive, because they don't know how to be loved without losing themselves.

I think there are other types of being engulfed, though. Some people cannot tolerate negativity in other people because they can't separate pain in others from their own pain. They are unable to hold both the feelings of another and their own feelings at the same time, and to maintain their affect, they run from people who are sad, or angry, or depressed; anything that could contaminate them and throw off their own balance is unbearable. This isn't necessarily conscious, although some people do seem to make it their life's mission to cut out anybody who makes them feel bad in some way. It seems like a popular "self care" strategy: Cut out toxic people! Exorcise negativity from your life!

Maybe that is needed for people who haven't yet developed the ego strength to bear the presence of others' emotions in depth, but I think it's a potentially dangerous road to go down. Much like with phobias, "cutting out negative people" is a way to box oneself into a limited life. Negativity is inevitable in life, and learning how to be present with it without being engulfed by it is important. Attempting to avoid it entirely is on some level motivated by fear of being unable to cope for it.

Now, I'm not saying the solution is to keep in contact with people who are severely abusive or unendingly depressed or have anger issues they're making no efforts to work on. When someone has a clear and detrimental effect on your ability to function and it really seems like they're not amenable to making constructive changes, that's a good reason to get out. I think what I'm describing is more about situations where someone seems to have persistent difficulty dealing with distress or pain in the other and their solution is to emotionally skip town.

Emotional resilience and being able to hold one's own boundaries (not in the sense of telling the person when you've had enough, but being able to keep a healthy amount of separation while still interacting and being empathetic) are talents for some and skills for others. They are capacities that can be developed. I think our culture is not particularly conducive to that, since there is a drive to be positive at all times and not "dwell" on negative things by giving them attention.

In the very early days of movies, from what I understand, people in the theatre actually screamed and ran in panic when a train came towards the camera on the screen. I think the way I'm describing being able to hold one's own is similar to that, in a way. Nowadays we understand that there is a separation between the events on screen and us. We can still be affected by what happens, and feel things, but the movie doesn't necessarily become our reality. I'm using this analogy loosely, because I don't want to convey the message that other people's feelings aren't real or don't matter any more than something in a movie, but the comparison seems appropriate.

Hopefully I learn more about how to help people build a sense of self and not become engulfed by others.

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Things I needed to hear tonight
Friday, June 15, 2018




I had a decent day but tonight was not amazing.

But maybe I'll finally be free of this emotional twilight zone I've been in. Maybe now I can finally grieve for real and be done. I had a lot of sadness earlier and did a lot of crying but it's kind of toned down now. I feel more able to reflect and hold things loosely. Less stuck than I have been in awhile.

Not a fun night but maybe necessary to move forward. Talked to someone who was important to me once, someone I thought I loved, once. Now we're just strangers. I don't want what used to be there. The other person acknowledged what I said but also acted as if nothing had really happened between us. It was weird. None of it felt particularly real. It was just... there.

I guess everything that happened between us, back when it still felt urgent and important, just feels kind of distant and unreal now. But maybe that's just because I cried a bunch and I'm tired now. I guess it doesn't matter. Suddenly compassion is coming to me much more easily than it has in awhile. It's been work for a long time, but it's flowing so freely at the moment. Funny how that works.

"Better For Me" by Fake Laugh.

It's a strange feeling that I have
It's a weird being that I am

It's an odd notion that I've known
It's a tear that I shed alone

It's better for me, better for me
Better for you, better for you
If we just do what we came to

Separately, separately
It's better for me, better for me
Definitely

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