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Memores acti prudentes futuri


You move forward, I move backward
and together we make nothing at all
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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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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Consistency in friendship
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
"I Tried" by Caroline Says.

I should let you know
That if you can't keep up you'll be laughed at like a joke
And that those lights, from the other side
They're not so bright

Though I still feel young
My body's old, it's almost done
My heart of gold has been bought and sold
My story's told


---

I've been thinking about what I value in friendship and why it's important to me. Keeping in regular contact is something I care about. I don't feel like I'm really close to anybody I don't talk to regularly. Doesn't have to be every day or anything, but I mean, I'm not one of those people who says "I can go years without talking to someone and we'll just pick things up where we left off when we talk again." I get why that's a thing, but it's not something I like or resonate with. It feels awkward to me to talk to someone after years of not knowing what's going on with them.

Started thinking about this because I was talking to my friend Matt the other day when I was feeling down and he said this:


In terms of people I can feel close to, I think it's important to have regularity of contact so that they can tell if something is wrong or if things have changed with me. You can't get that sense of a person if you hardly ever talk. Do you even know a person if you only catch up once in awhile? Or do you just have a stable perception of them that might not line up with their actual life? Of course, keeping in contact doesn't necessarily mean you'll have an accurate perception either, but I think that not keeping in touch guarantees you won't be able to tell what's actually different from your memory of the person.

I suppose there's an argument to be made that being best friends with someone you never talk to, and having that be a mutually agreed upon level of friendship, suggests loyalty. Like, you can always go back to that person even if you haven't spoken in forever. That doesn't seem right to me, though. I'm not trying to say it's not possible or people can't be happy with that, but I guess that it seems like it's a co-constituted illusion. Like two people wearing the same masks they always wear around each other and only interacting with each other's masks. There is a level of unawareness necessary to maintain that happily. It's the same with communication... you can be miscommunicating with someone all the time and neither of you will really ever realize that you're not talking about the same thing at all. You both just walk away with your separate interpretations and things never become obvious enough that you find out you weren't on the same page. People are content with that.

It seems fair to say that often I prefer truth to happiness. Happiness is an unintended (but not unwelcome anymore) side effect of my pursuits in life, not a goal in itself. Kyle asked me recently what was most important to me in life, and I didn't even think to mention "happiness" as one of my items. I like for other people to be happy, though. It's just... not something I care to get hung up on in my own life? If it comes to me, so be it. If it doesn't, that's alright too. There are other more important things going on.

And so, to circle back to my point from earlier (which I know I often don't do in blog posts, haha), I don't know if I can be close friends with anybody I don't talk to consistently. I do want to specify that I'm talking about close friendship as opposed to any friendship, because there are people I'm friends with on a more casual basis whom I only talk to once in awhile. It seems like my circle of close friends is small and shifting because of this, but that's okay. I don't think I can feel close to people if I don't have a current sense of where they are in their life and who they are in the present. I'm not content with memories and illusions and unexamined relations...

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The effects of religion
Monday, June 4, 2018
I went to an ECS study session yesterday. We talked about the first chapter of Ethics as a Religion by David Saville Muzzey. I didn't have the book and hadn't read the chapter prior to attending, but luckily it was only like five pages long with very large margins, so it was easy enough to catch up. They gave me a free copy of the book! The discussion leader said "Since you're a student, you get the special discount rate of free" haha. Overall, I feel that the group has been very kind to me in my time with them.

Anyway, one of the points in that chapter was that in Ethical Culture, there is a basic belief that humans have inherent worth and potential to be good. We start off in a position of goodness, I guess. The author disagreed with the concept of Original Sin and the idea that we inherit sin from the first humans and are predisposed to act in evil ways as a result. It was a minor point in the book, but it made me think about my own history with religion. I grew up Christian, and I wonder if that had any subtle influences on my perception of my self-worth. It might not necessarily for everyone, but in my case, it could have contributed to me having low self-esteem as a teenager/young adult. Just this sense of intrinsic lack and the need to make up for it through actions of goodness.

I think I have retained some values from my Christian upbringing, although I have found different reasons to adhere to them. Not sure it would be accurate to call them specifically Christian values though, as they seem like things shared by most major belief systems. General things like being kind to others etc. I think that breaking away from Christianity and creating my own system of ethics was an integral part of my development as a person. My values are meaningful to me because of how I've struggled for them. I wonder if my children, assuming I have children, will appreciate ethics as much if they don't have that break and resulting self-discovery. Then again, a lot of people don't end up doing what I did, and they just stay insufferable militant atheists, or don't care about having a structured ethical system at all. I'm not sure why I ended up doing what I did, or what sets me apart from those people.

---

In other news, after talking with my friend Matt, I'm thinking I might need to take a break from trying to date. It's not working out and I just feel frustrated and demoralized. Could be helpful to just stop trying for awhile so I don't push myself into depression.

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Midnight
Thursday, May 31, 2018
"Midnight, The Stars And You" by Al Bowlly.

Midnight, with the stars and you
Midnight, and a rendezvous
Your eyes held a message tender
Saying, "I surrender all my love to you"

Midnight brought us sweet romance
I know all my whole life through
I'll be remembering you
Whatever else I do
Midnight with the stars and you


---

This seems like a song for a rainy day. A song to play while watching water droplets on a window coalesce and slide downward. Something to listen to while leaning your head on someone else's shoulder-- someone only half listening to the music.

A song for a moment alone, in the presence of another.

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My friend said something nice about me
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
I showed him the profile of someone I'm talking to on a dating app and he was not impressed:
but there's this feel, i'm trying to put my finger on it

the feel is from seeing the nuance and thoughtfulness in you that's so rare and beautiful, there's so much there to explore in your thoughts, it feels like you've spent your life making decisions with purpose and intent and it's woven a rich tapestry and it would be wasted on fuckers like that googler


Also, I found this reggae remix of "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye tonight, and it makes his eye contact in the video uncomfortably intense.

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Always more opportunities
Monday, May 28, 2018
After my book club on Sunday, I decided to walk around the area a little and found a tree that looked like it'd be easy to climb. Gave it a shot and climbed up a bit, although I didn't go very high because I have no experience climbing trees and was afraid to fall. Also my phone fell out of my pocket and onto the ground, so I had to go down and get it.

When I was walking back towards my car, this new guy who had attended the book club saw me and started talking to me. He was extremely annoying and kept talking excitedly about things that were obvious to me. It was clear that he thought what he was saying was very insightful and deep. I don't know if he thought I would benefit from what he was saying or if he just wanted to talk about it because he thought it was fascinating and wonderful.

I really just wanted to leave, but I did my best to hear him out for a few minutes and not get visibly irritated with him.

In reflecting on this afterwards, I decided that it was a good situation to practice patience in. People have told me on multiple occasions that I'm very patient, but that doesn't resonate with me, because in most cases I'm just not bothered by things to begin with. I feel like it would count more if I were actually in situations with things that had the potential to anger or upset me. This was one of those situations!

Lately I've been feeling kind of uncharitable and... I dunno... mean? Like I'm not trying very hard to see things from other people's perspective. It's somewhat troubling. Need to work on getting back to a place of empathy instead of being closed off and pursuing my own perspective without pause.

I guess it's kind of good that it's hard, though. It feels like a challenge. Personal growth feels more meaningful when it's a struggle. I have done a lot of things that felt relatively easy, especially in the beginning. It's like leveling up in a video game... the levels come quick and easy at first. Kill a few monsters and you're already level 2, then 3, 4, 5, 10, 20. But get to the higher levels and you're just grinding. The time and effort it takes to get from level 80 to 81 is considerable. Thinking about things in those terms helps me feel less frustrated with what feels like a slowdown in my progress.

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Sleeping all the time
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
For some reason I just want to sleep a bunch during the day. I don't feel awake until it's night. That seems problematic, given that my next semester starts next week and I have a class in the city that starts at 9:30am. Gonna have to get up at like 5:30am again to make it.

Kyle came to visit me over the weekend. We went to Maker Faire and stayed at a cool hotel. Maker Faire was... not that amazing. It didn't have as many independent projects and things, and overall felt a lot more corporate and less interesting. Was kind of disappointing. I used to really like it. We had a decent time though, and got to see a prototype mech lumber around.


I would post pictures from the hotel, but I forgot to take my camera with me there and KYLE HASN'T SENT ME THE PICTURES HE TOOK YET. >:C

On Sunday I took him to ECS and met up with Trevor there for the first time in like... two and a half years. We didn't have much time to actually talk though, because the speaker ran over time and people had tons of questions afterwards. Will have to try to hang out some other time, I guess.

I know I haven't written in awhile. It's not that I'm especially busy, although I have been up to stuff this past week and a half. I guess I'm just not feeling that motivated to write.

---

On Monday night I hung out with my friend Matt again. We only hung out until 3am this time, haha. Watched part of the Animatrix and talked a bunch. It's interesting. It feels like it's becoming a close friendship even though we've only hung out three times. I guess, to be fair, we hang out quite a lot every time we hang out, but still. He said he felt like he had room for another close friend in his life. I think I do too, although I'm wary of committing to that label. I feel like a friendship needs to withstand the test of time before it deserves to be called close. Otherwise it's intimate, but its consistency is unproven.

---

My iPod played this a few days ago and I've been thinking about it since then.

"Shalott" by Emilie Autumn.

She says "That' man's gonna be my death, 'cause he's all I ever wanted in my life

---

When I saw my therapist on Monday, he made a suggestion that horrified me. He has latched onto this idea that I'm smarter than the average person, which I guess might line up with my experience in the world, but I feel averse to it. Anyway, he was posing hypotheticals, and said something along the lines of "suppose you were in the 99th percentile..." I didn't want to go along with that line of thought, even if it was an imaginary scenario. I mean, I'd be a genius if I were in the 99th percentile, and I'm definitely not a genius.

I dunno, the idea of being way smarter than other people kind of scares me. I don't think I'm actually that far from other people in intelligence, but the theoretical possibility is uncomfortable. It seems like it would just be another barrier to being able to connect. My impression has been that people who are way smarter than other people only partner well with others when the average level people are serving some kind of support function to the smarter person's ambitions. That's not a setup I'd fit into.

We also talked about me feeling like I have to train people to interact with me. It's not something that happens with friendships so much, but it's something I feel around romantic and therapy relationships. Anything with conflict resolution. Nobody knows how to be supportive to me and I have to teach them. I'm so tired of it. It's not that people don't make the effort, but... effort only gets you so far. I feel stuck in this choice between "appreciate people's effort even though the actions are unhelpful," "train people to do better but face them getting frustrated and giving up," and "stop trying entirely and just resign myself to not having mutually supportive relationships"... Why am I so difficult to provide emotional support to? I've worked a lot on not getting annoyed with people when they give me unsolicited (and usually obvious) advice. I tell myself that they care enough to try. It just doesn't make me feel any better. Ugh.

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