Poetry, Reflections

“Discombobulated…”

And confused…

Out of sync… or even time?

Some moments passing before I can grasp them,

while others simply refuse to move!

Spiritual whiplash… my body aches.

Caused by this stop and go act?

This heavy push forward, pulsing,

while something else holds me back?

I “fail” at everything normal I try,

but “feel” success haunting my steps.

I feel reluctance, resistance…

while the voices are all screaming, “YES!!”…

Frustration boils up, disturbing my peace,

while that deeply calm center still anchors me…

‘Tis no wonder I feel unbalanced these days…

uncertain, bemused and unsure.

Nothing makes sense in a world gone mad…

So I grasp for the truth in a Word:

“Dis-com-bob-u-lat-ed”…

Made up, created, to capture a moment,

comfort found in humor and sound…

 

 

Standard
Conversations, Reflections, Visions

Conversations With… a Stuffed Elephant…?

So, I’m sitting here, in my fevered sickbed haze, minding my own business, mulling over the revelations I’ve had today…  When suddenly I discover I’m having a “conversation.”  Not with the usual participants, mind you; no, this time it’s a small, but adorable, stuffed elephant speaking to me.

Why?  I have no idea!  I don’t even own a stuffed elephant, though I think I would want this one if I did; soft, cuddly, and pale yellow, with a lovely light floral print inside his floppy ears, and along his chest and belly…  He is sitting in a white rocking chair that is several sizes too large for him, all seriousness and sincerity.  I cannot help but laugh at the absurdity of this encounter!  (To which he takes offense, of course!)

Elephant:  You find this amusing, do you?!  Why?  Do I not fit your preconceived notions of sage wisdom?

Me:  Ummm…  Actually…  Well, of course not, you adorable creature!  But that doesn’t mean I won’t talk to you!  In fact, I’m really looking forward to it now…

Elephant:  [trying to hide a grin beneath his oversized trunk…]  And why is that?  Are you willing to take me seriously, or are you merely looking ahead to the many potential opportunities to make fun of me?

Me:  [laughing aloud…]  I don’t need to wait for such opportunities, my friend, as they are abundant and clear from the get-go!  But to answer your other questions, of course I’m willing to take you seriously, and I am grateful to have you here.  My anticipation stems from the unexpectedness of the visit, as well as the form you’ve taken; my experience tells me that such randomness, or blatant distortion of expectation, often leads to “breakthrough” moments, and that is what excites me…

Elephant:  [adjusting the round spectacles he is now wearing more comfortably across a trunk too thick to hold them…]  Well, then.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

[I can only nod, eagerly…]

Your last post had to do with the “axis of power.”  You discussed the Figure-8 Cross in terms of two intersecting paths…

[I nod, somewhat baffled by his desire to bring that up here…]

Yet the picture you later added has three (!) intersecting paths.  Was that a mistake on your part?  Or did you intend to muddy the waters that way?

Me:  Umm…  Neither, actually.  The picture was posted as an attempt to illustrate the discussion.  It just happens to be a more recent model I built (within the last decade) to help me explore the topic.  At the time I was trying to visualize how more figure-8’s (planes of activity) could be incorporated into the model, and I was having trouble doing so.  This physical model forced me to actually make the connections, but I could only physically create the three before it became a hot mess.  Still, it allowed me a little more room to expand my thought process…

Elephant:  And what did your mental model look like when all was said and done?

Me:  It becomes a sphere in the end, created of intersecting figure-8’s that each bisect the Whole.  The outer loops are what give the Sphere its curved shape…

But…  Why is this important?

Elephant:  Hmm… ? [looking up, distractedly, from the notes he has been taking…  Removing his spectacles, he taps them rhythmically against his trunk…]  A sphere, you say?  Now, that’s interesting!

Me:  [confused…]  Ok…  Why?

Elephant:  Now…  Talk to me about those trees!

Me:  The trees?!  What do they have to do with all this?

Elephant:  Well… [shifting in his seat, somewhat annoyed with me]  Indeed what?!…

Do they not possess both vertical and horizontal axis to be explored?  Do they not present a curved canopy to the outside world (more or less anyway, as their trunks hold up their tops, while their roots spread out beneath)?  Have they not been seeking to express themselves in the world in which you live?  Have they not accepted an offer of partnership in moving forward through that world?!

Hmmph!  [Shaking his head, annoyed…]

Sometimes!  I swear!…

[I can only stare at him; I have no coherent response as yet…)

Me:  So… [thoughtfully…]  Is this the point (notice I don’t use “time” here), that we acknowledge the elephant standing in the middle of the room…?

Elephant:  If you insist, of course.  Personally, I never forgot it!

[And winking at me, his image fades…]

Standard
Essay, Reflections

A Schizophrenic’s Guide to Navigating Through “Alternative Facts”

NOTE (TRIGGER WARNING): this post is intended as satire, for those unsure how to react, but like most satire, it is firmly founded on kernels of truth…  I only mention this because I know that many who follow this blog (whether they read its content regularly or not) are, or have in the past, dealt intimately with mental illness.  I am NOT mocking you, or your struggles; rather I am mocking a world where such “illness” has become the “norm” now…

You know, given the state of the world these days, I’ve discovered that many of my past ramblings have taken on new context.  I mean, “What is Real?” after all?  Are there still baseline, foundational “facts” to support a shared reality?  Are we still living in a consensually constructed world with recognizable, even “provable” laws existing independently of (or in spite of) individuals’ preferences?

I keep hearing the musical intro from Rod Sterling’s (or is it Serling now?) Twilight Zone running through my head, as every day brings new disillusionment to light.  What with the White House and their followers’ reliance upon “alternative facts” to explain away their disappointments, and the current onslaught of diametrically opposed “fake news” stories, coupled with a rousing call for “fact checking” everyone and everything (still with no agreements, by the way), it would appear that “reality” has become quite malleable and personal.  And no two versions of it are quite the same…

So…  Acknowledging this state of uncertainty as the new “norm,” I’ve decided to offer you all the “wisdom” of my experience as a functional schizophrenic in a formerly consensus based reality.  My qualifications are easy to fact check (if you know where to look), as I was diagnosed a “paranoid” schizophrenic some 37 years ago or so, and have been living side-by-side with “sane” people in society (whether they knew it or not) for all that time, institution and medication free for the last 32 years of it or so.

I know what it is to have “weird” experiences, to sense shifts in reality that no one else seems to notice, to feel ungrounded and free flowing in a world that prides itself on its gravity and solid structures.  I understand the sudden panic that threatens when the people around you are discussing something seriously, all in alignment, and everything within you cries out “what the f**k are they talking about?!  Do they honestly believe what they’re saying?!”  I have felt that deep sense of disorientation that occurs when something “not right” happens, or keeps happening, and you can’t help but wonder if you’re dreaming it all…

And yes, I know the pressures of trying to “fit in,” of being the proverbial round peg trying to get comfortable in a square hole (this version more accurately describes my experience than the traditional analogy).  Because I have no trouble pretending to be “normal,” most of the time anyway, but it becomes so uncomfortable over the long run, that I frequently revert to my own ways, just to alleviate the bruising that occurs getting banged around in an irrational, unfriendly reality.  And I certainly know the frustration that happens when you try to convince others of your truth, when they are neither interested in, nor willing to consider, a different perspective.  (There’s a reason schizophrenics get violent, and most often it is borne of this very frustration, and the labels the “norms” impose on us to explain our insistence in defending our point of view; think “paranoia” here.)

So…  Please accept the following guidelines (yes – suggestions, not demands) in the spirit in which they are offered: as an attempt to promote peaceful interactions in a world where no one can agree on the simplest or most basic “facts” defining “reality.”

Guideline #1:  There are no such things as facts…

Let’s be real here, friends.  Facts are, by definition, data that is observed, measured, quantified and verified; in essence they are empirically based truths.  But even someone with the most crude understanding of quantum mechanics (like myself) knows that the mere act of observing anything alters it, even creates it.  Therefore, there logically can be no “true facts,” only biased, expectation-driven observations that amount to little more than opinion.  Accept that, and some of your cognitive dissonance should ease…

Guideline #2:  Don’t argue opinions!

Opinions are based on belief, and belief requires no proof.  Therefore, no proof exists that can alter someone else’s opinion.  It’s simple, really.  Accept that each of us lives in our own version of reality, and that, while some overlap (shared beliefs) are to be expected and exploited, it is neither necessary, nor helpful, to try to force expansion of that overlap; identify the commonalities and focus on those.

Example:  Try commenting on the weather when first engaging someone else, or the color of the sky (“wow, that’s the bluest sky, I think I’ve ever seen!”)  Then watch for reactions.  If the person agrees, feel free to move the conversation forward, in slow, testing steps.  If they look around, confused, or stare at you like you have two heads, wish them a good day and move on; you clearly do not share enough reality overlap to converse!  Feel free to move on at any point in the conversation where your realities begin to substantially diverge; it is the kindest and “sanest” thing you can do.

Guideline #3:  Flexibility and balance are going to prove much more useful to you than strength; work on developing them.

Remember that your reality is yours; own it but don’t bemoan it.  The same is true of everyone else.  To maintain a sense of sanity in a world where no two realities overlap completely, you must be able to dance and dodge effectively.  You can actually learn a lot from listening to Others’ versions, but only if you retain your sense of self.  It’s a balancing act.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is this: Insistence breeds Conviction which leads to Resistance, the hallmark of Affliction, the spawn of Conflict(tion? – lol!)…  In other words, stubbornness creates unnecessary conflict (see Guidelines #1 and #2)…

Guideline #4: Value is defined by usefulness rather than “right-ness”…

In a world where reality shifts and founders, and consensus leaches away more each day, the very concept of “right” and “wrong” alters.  Keep in mind that these people doing or saying incomprehensible (to you) things are NOT sharing the same reality as you; that very incomprehensibilty tells you that.  Take comfort in that knowledge.  And understand that there is still some value to be had in observing and/or interacting with them.

Because our realities are self-defined, it is easy to trap ourselves, to get stuck in a self-perpetuating loop.  Allowing yourself to be open to other possibilities (available only by interacting with Others), gives you opportunities to devise new pathways and understandings.  These are necessary to grow your reality in new directions.  Unless, of course, you prefer to just keep spinning that hamster wheel of yours…

Guideline #5: The absolutely most important tool in your toolbox is a sense of humor!

Illusion occurs when you are convinced that something is “real” when it isn’t, even for you.  Delusion is what everyone else believes to be true when it doesn’t coincide with your own point of view.  So when someone accuses you of being delusional, it is most likely true (no need to argue about it – see Guideline #2).  But that accusation is all the “proof” you need that they are as delusional as you!

Even two (or more) diagnosed schizophrenics cannot understand each other’s delusions; what we can do is be kind to each other, listen to each other’s point of view, and celebrate the uniqueness of our personal experiences.

Often times, I’ve found, the very best medicine is a good laugh, not in mockery of others, but in a shared understanding of the irony and absurdity of trying to co-exist in a world where we cannot agree on the simplest of observations.  But that truly is the beauty of this existence in the end; so many possibilities to explore, so limited our time to do so.  Thank goodness there are so many Others to explore the paths I cannot travel myself!

That is how we help each other – love and respect.  Nothing else truly matters in the end, as none of it is factually real after all…

Standard
Reflections

“Alternative” Times…

I open my eyes to a blood red sky, and instantly I am wide awake.  “Shit!,” I cry aloud, “a massive storm must be headed our way!”

Dressing quickly, I grab my phone and head for the porch, hoping to capture that vivid prediction in digital form.  Snapping photos, I can’t help but notice, the western sky darkening behind me.  And it is then that it occurs to me, the sun is fading rather than growing before me…

“The sun is setting in the east today?,” I wonder aloud.  “First thing in the morning?!”

‘Tis odd, I admit, even to myself, but in this world of “alternative facts” who am I to question which way time should flow?

Shaking my head to dislodge that sense of disorientation that always plagues these “alternative” events, I head in to make coffee at last.  And I cannot help but ponder the significance of what I have just witnessed…

Two cups later I’m almost convinced I must have imagined the whole thing.  After all, the whole sky is lit now, even if the sun isn’t visible…

So I pick up my phone to do some early morning catch-up, and the camera turns itself on.  Intrigued, I remember the photos I took, so I look in my gallery to see if my digital memory resembles my own imaginings…

Nothing definitive, of course, for that would be too easy.  Still, the progression of the pictures could easily be a sunset in the city.  But they were captured at 6:30 am today…

Hmm…

Am I the only one experiencing the odd, disconnected, irrational sense data of a superimposed “alternate” reality?

Three photos taken this morning, in the order they were taken:

20170221_065410

20170221_065833

20170221_065814

Just weird…

Standard