Monday journaling in early July

Hangovers truly do hurt more than they used to. Said it before but feel the need to say it again. Takes less to bring on the pain these days also. Makes me wonder how I functioned all those years if this was the fog I’d been routinely living within.

Amazing the difference in perspective time taken away from drinking provides. Makes it increasingly difficult to accept surrendering to that lifestyle, despite its ongoing powerful allure. I go back, guilt consumes me, my head aches and my vision blurs for a day or more afterward, stupid events may or may not occur that leave me resenting my weakness for giving in yet again, then I resolve to leave the mess alone until the next time I succumb to its temptation. Rinse, repeat.

A big part of the problem here isn’t merely a lack of will power — it’s a lack of an alternative direction, a better vision for the future. Some call this nihilism, which I suppose is accurate enough. It’s a lack of giving enough of a damn. Life feels very long and I’m not sure where to direct it from here on out, disconnected as I am from any great sense of community or common purpose. To simply throw myself into attempting to help others conjures up a whole host of questions, such as in what ways and how, toward what end, in service to what philosophy, would this be helping or rather enabling, etc., etc. Though that remains the conventional response from others during one’s “dark night of the soul” — Go help others so that you’ll quit focusing on yourself! If only it were that easy and clear-cut…

Makes me wonder where the line is between trying to be helpful and fashioning oneself into some form of masochistic martyr. The distinction isn’t as bold as people like to imagine, come to find out.

And what about one’s own self-interest? Oh sure, being of service to others can indeed boost one’s own sense of purpose and esteem, depending on how one goes about it. Can also waste a bunch of time and energy on matters of trivial importance too if you’re not careful. Can wind up leading to another dead end where you realize that what you’ve been attempting is just another game of smoke and mirrors, yet another useless distraction wherein you attempted to save others when in reality you can’t even save yourself. Food for thought.

I am bitter these days. Very tired inside from this unending struggle to right my wrongs and to reorient myself toward living and socializing. Apparently this is just the way life goes and there’s no real reason to complain, but it is wearing over time. Hard to recharge one’s batteries under the circumstances. Tough to decide on where to head from here, what to shoot for and plan for. It’s ultimately a question of values, though what I value isn’t necessarily in line with how I tend to live, truth be told. Bad habits can and do change us, re-shape us, deform us, corrupt us, perhaps in some cases irrevocably so. I’m not sure who I am when considered in this light. Seems pretty late in the game to fantasize about starting over and becoming something wholly different.

Also, I’m not sure how one can re-fashion herself into something new while planted within this larger social/political/economic context. Though I understand it needs to happen, I’m not sure how to go about it entirely. Sounds like a recipe for greater social exclusion, which pains me to consider. But there’s no way around it really — I know. The trick is to somehow stonewall myself in the face of that realization and attempt it anyway. Not as if most of the socializing I’ve been doing is worth salvaging anyhow — half these people I deal with are in no better positions themselves, so what are we really trying to hold on to here? A sense of escapism? Yes. Mutually-bolstered delusions and retreats into unfulfilling comforts. That’s all it is and all it ever was, so life has been teaching me.

But when I look out and try to imagine alternate paths, I wonder how I might walk them in my present condition. One foot in front of the other, you say. Sure, but unguided by much, heading toward the unknown from the abyss. Carrying with me my past pains and neurotic problems that have distorted my thoughts and emotions, because such baggage doesn’t simply go away despite our wishes for it to. Seeking what? New opportunities to socialize and maybe even experience a sense of community, to prove helpful and useful, to discover redemption of some sort so that my mind might give me some peace finally. In what fashion? That which can be sustained, that which is truly human. And that’s a long way from home.

Lots of charlatans out here in society pretending to be what they’re not, advertising lures that they can’t deliver on. I know that. Undoubtedly will learn plenty the hard way regardless of which path I choose. Learned plenty the hard way already, so what’s the real difference there? Wherever humans are, trouble is nearby — that goes without saying. I tell myself that I need an adventure, to break away from Cookie-Cutterville and all of its inane trappings that numb my soul and entice me to escape myself as a means of coping. I don’t belong here in this land of families worried about good schools and crime rates, jabbering mindlessly about mowing lawns and sports scores, regularly anesthetizing themselves in local pubs where people like me get in the way of their good times. I’m too moody and dark for this place, too uncomfortable in my own skin and itching for something more to life than this. Yet I too have been lulled into a sense of complacency here, appreciating all these creature comforts and tasty foods and the relative ease in which society functions day-to-day. Can’t shake the feeling of being an alien here though, over a decade running.

Feels like I’m hiding here, but from what? From God? From a call to leave my comfort and to instead risk everything I have for what I can’t yet foresee? Damn. That’s a tall order. But I get it — appears necessary. Just tricky and unnerving and leaves me wondering if I’ve finally flown the coop since all the rest here claim to be relatively content and aren’t chomping at the bit the way I am. Why must I differ from them? Why can’t I be content with what’s been provided to me? Probably because I’m a disagreeable jerk not originally from this place and unable (or unwilling) to assimilate properly. Not that these folks deserve to be given grief; they mean well. I just don’t know what to do with myself while among them. Serve them so as to earn a living, yes, but what else? And that’s been the question forming over the years.

Am I scared? Probably. Most of us fear change, even if we’re uncomfortable with where we’re at currently. Not sure why — just a normal human response, I figure. The longer I stay here, the more difficult it feels to leave. Yet the longer I stay here, the more bitter I become, and that’s of no benefit to anyone. Not sure where else to go. Will take me at least a year to pay off bills and raise money and finish out my lease, but in the meantime I have to worry about leaving alcohol alone and coping with my present circumstances. Kind of feels like a catch-22. The longer I stay, the more I fear I will never leave and will grow colder and more withdrawn until I cease to be me. It’s a conundrum, but I suppose it can be surmounted.

I do get lonely. The hours in a day grow very long toward the evening. I read up on what’s happening in my society and all sounds so chaotic, so impossible to reign in. On some level a simpler life is needed, maybe so that a creative life becomes more possible. Because what I’m experiencing now is not life-affirming, it’s life-deadening, numbing, trying not to feel what I can’t help but feel. And it won’t change just because I wish it would — I know.

The answers are simple, though not necessarily easy. That much is true. What do I have to lose? Not much by this point. Am already pretty isolated. Already have picked up and developed bad habits. Already learned the wicked ways of people, including that in my own self. Spent enough time staring into the abyss and feeling it staring back. Learned a good bit about what not to do and have a better idea now of what’s in my greater interest, finally, as I slide into middle age. Money comes and goes — that doesn’t dictate everything for me. Have a pretty simple life that’s uncomplicated by too many major responsibilities. And maybe it’s that which I’d miss the most, that being my perch from where I’ve been free to watch, listen, and ponder for all these years.

But then there comes a time for action, for putting into practice what all we’ve been wrestling with and figuring out. So, on to the 1-to-2-year plan. Research what I can in the meantime. Because, Lord help me if I am still sitting here in this city 10 years from now. That would represent the opposite of growth — pure stagnation. Not certain my soul could bear it.

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