Things All Over The Place

Things all over the place. Someday, some yet unknown civilization will study us and think that we had things all over the place. We are consumed by our things and few things ever remain in their right place.

I love some of my things, but does this mean I need to have things all over the place? Has humanity really evolved to have this many things all over the place? Can our brains really handle all these things all over the place? Just about all of our homes have things all over the place. There are things everywhere, too many to name.

Some of us are lucky enough to have the time, energy and/or money to have things continually kept in their right place. Few of us are disciplined enough to keep everything right where it needs to be, at all times. After all, this is the only way that most of us could maintain sanity and stability with things.

We have built our lives in order to have things all over the place. This is what we do. This is where human ingenuity has landed us. We labor away and then we collect things. It is fun buying things with our hard earned cash. If we did not do this what would be the point of our labor? We certainly don’t love the things we do for cash so we better enjoy the spending of it.

We end up with things all over the place.

What we did for fun becomes an excess of things all over the place. Memories materialized into things.

And now our lives become about keeping things in their right place. Learning how to not get so angry when things are all over the place. Figuring out how to keep things from getting all over the place. Straining our relationships because of the stress of having things all over the place. Not spending our time more meaningfully because we are too tired after dealing with things all over the place. Wishing we could just be comfortable with things all over the place but never being able to achieve this ideal.

Those who are perfectly at home and relaxed with things all over the place are the enlightened beings in our day and age of too many things all over the place.

Our world is surrounded by things all over the place. The inside of our homes is a reflection of the clutter all around. Everything is out of place. There is clutter everywhere, unless you are fortunate enough to live where no one else or only a few are around. But chances are you still live in a home with things all over the place. We live in a world of things all over the place and our homes become microcosmic portraitures of this macrocosmic crisis.

It is inevitable. When we live with things all over the place our inner worlds become filled with things all over the place. Everything is out of place on the outside because everything is out of place on the inside. Or is everything out of place on the inside because everything is out of place on the outside?

Thoughts all over the place. An endless number of things to get done. Different feelings running into one another. Continually trying to get things organized on the inside but never feeling able to. Looking towards drugs and alcohol to help us straighten things out, if only for a minute. Meditating, doing yoga, going to therapists, reading self-help books, going on retreat- all in the hope of effectively dealing with these things all over the place.

No scientific research is needed to tell us we live in a world, inside and out, with too many things all over the place. We are buried beneath these things, always struggling to find a way to get things in order. We struggle to remain organized inside and out. We try as hard as we can to deal with things all over the place. But more often than not, our only shot at survival is to say fuck it and accept that this is now a world with things all over the place.

Phone Call From Myself

I arrived early at my miserable office when my iPhone rang. Who the hell could be calling me this early? This is what I thought. I was in a bad mood. I am always in a bad mood early in the morning, especially before work. Normally I do not like it when people call me. I feel like they are invading my private space. I am offended. But when someone calls me in the morning my offense is drastically multiplied.

Rather than just ignoring the ringing iPhone (which, in retrospect would have been the right thing to do but everything is the right thing to do in retrospect) I pulled it from my cluttered pocket and checked. It took me several seconds to make sense of what I saw. 510-604-6201. That is my phone number right? Isn’t 510-604-6201 my phone number? How the hell could this be? How could I be calling myself? This doesn’t make sense. I exist in a state of complete confusion but in that moment, my confusion turned into complete perplexion.

I answered the call (which, I never do by the way).

“Hello?” I said it very apprehensively.

“Randall?”

“Yes…….” I said this very apprehensively as well.

“Randall. This is Randall. I need to talk with you about something.”

“Excuse me?” It sounded like me. It was my same old slow and miserable voice coming through the phone but I could not make sense of what was actually happening.

“I know this might seem a bit odd to you, but please do not be alarmed. This is yourself, Randall. I am calling you.”

“You are me calling me?”

“Yes, this is you. Or it is me but I am you and I just needed to speak with you for a moment.”

“Ok. This is very strange. How could I be calling myself? I am right here now, so where are you?” I said this even more apprehensively than I said everything before.

“Look, let’s skip all the practicalities. They don’t matter. Please stop trying to figure things out. I am you Randall, this is Randall calling Randall and I just need to speak with you about a few things before you begin work. Is this ok?”

The voice on the iPhone was me. There was no question about this. I could even hear how the voice, or I, annunciated slow and mumbled vowels, which is exactly what I do. In a state of complete perplexion and disarray, I decided to give in and stop questioning.

“Ok. What is it?” I said this apprehensively.

“Well, look man, I know you have your first client coming in shortly and have a long day filled with clients in front of you. I know that you have been struggling the past couple of weeks and I just wanted to reach out to you.”

“Reach out to me about what?”

“I just wanted to let you know that things are going to be ok. You don’t need to stress out so much about everything. I know you have been having a difficult time not stressing out about every little thing. You are unhappy in your mind. Almost every little thought triggers a negative stress response in your body. I know you are overwhelmed by your work. I know that it is very draining for you and takes up too much space in your mental apparatus………

(This is when I was certain it was me talking to me on the phone because only I would say something like mental apparatus in the middle of a banal, self-help sentence.)

……but you have got to stop stressing over so many things.”

“How do you suggest I do this Randall?” Now I was starting to play with myself.

“Well as long as your question is genuine and you are not playing with me, I will tell you. I know that your job is tormenting. It fills you with exhaustion and negativity. I get it. But welcome to the real world man. You are not a kid, where everything must feel good all the time or else you are pissed. You are an adult now. Also, you must keep in mind that this will not last forever. You will get out of this at some point. Now you feel stuck and obligated. I understand. But please trust me that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not the light coming from an oncoming train as you often think.”

“OK, I appreciate all of this Randall, but what is your point?” Now I was feeling frustrated. I don’t like it when people tell me what to do, especially myself and especially in the early morning. I was on the edge of telling myself to go to hell but I refrained.

I needed more coffee.

“I just wanted to tell you to go easy man. I know you are unhappy. Your work week is almost over. Just try to keep it together and don’t fall apart. Do some meditation. Take time to listen to music. Stop feeling like you need to write and spending your precious free time writing and posting things on your blog that don’t get you anywhere. Just knock that off. Don’t worry about writing your novel or being creative. This is just your ego driving you nuts. You just need to relax. You need to do things that you enjoy during your free time. And you and I both know that writing is hard work for you. It is not necessarily something you enjoy.”

“Ok.” I was ready to get off the phone. Myself was pissing me off.

“Look, there are alternative ways of organizing experience and interpreting information. Drugs are often one way. Meditation is another way. Beer is one impermanent way. Just staying present and not identifying with your ego is a long term way. I just think that it is important for your mental health that you seek out healthier, alternative ways, daily, or else you are going to be a miserable man.”

“I am a miserable man fucker! Why are you telling me all of this right now? I have eight clients to day. I have to sit and attentively listen to eight people talk about their problems for an hour each. You try that out sometimes. You try and find alternative ways of interpreting information when all your mental energy is being drained right out of you only because you have to make money. I really don’t need this alternative bullshit right now. Just leave me alone. Let me get through my day however I need to. I don’t know who the fuck you think you are but stop telling me how you think I should live my life!” I was pissed, probably much more than I needed to be, and hoped that my client who was waiting for me in the waiting room could not hear any of this.

“Look I am sorry man. I just thought I would give you a call and try and help you out.”

“Well, thanks Randall. I appreciate your generous act of goodwill but you can shove it up your ass. I am tired of you telling me what to do. Always telling me what you think I should do while you get to just hang out in my ego all day long. And now you call me on the phone to tell me? Fuck this. I have had enough. I am hanging up now. Good bye Randall.”

“But…..”

I turned my iPhone off, put it back in my cluttered pocket and took a deep breath. I think I said the word fuck a few more times and tried not to think about the long day in front of me. Then I pulled up my zipper (which, I just noticed was down), forced a smile upon my permanently frowning face and went to get my first client.

Going Gay

I’ve suffered debilitating anxiety most of my life. As I have grown older my anxiety seems to have found renewed vigor and strength. Recently my anxiety has been wreaking havoc on my body and brain. Fortunately, I no longer freak out and panic the way I once used to do as a younger man. I am familiar with this bastard now and not so easily thrown into panic by its unsettling assaults. I handle my anxiety fits (as one therapist once called them) with the practiced and controlled terror of a man who has faced serious battle thousands of times.

Yesterday, in the middle of my work day, I was seized with yet another terrible fit of what my wife refers to as a “severe fucking mental illness.” Everything was going relatively fine and then suddenly I was having intense and what feels like very real unnerving thoughts about my own end. My chest swells, various pains shoot into my left arm, I can’t see straight and my soul feels like it’s going to come undone from my body. I feel like a very fragile, glass man who could shatter into mortal pieces at any moment. The apprehension and severe uneasiness caused by my messed-up brain forces me to clench my fists and jaw, use walls for support, walk slowly, struggle to breathe and hold on for dear life. It often lasts for hours and qualifies for what many would could a near death experience. Then it passes, leaving me feeling like I have a swollen and abused brain in my skull, which has just been forced to run a miserable marathon. I hate that I go through this all the time (and I mean all the time) but I don’t hate it enough to take pills in what is an often a futile attempt to make it go away.

For over two decades I have been searching my-messed-up-and-sometimes-mentally-ill-mind for solutions to solve the problem of my-messed-up-and-sometimes-mentally-ill-mind (probably not the most logical thing to do). This morning I decided that I am going to go gay for the weekend. My wife is going on a long road trip for the weekend and I will be left at home alone with my dogs, my problems, my isolation, my addictions, my books, my mental illness and my lack of any friends or family around. In the absence of anything that looks like a well-functioning human being, I figure it is a good time to try out being gay. When I told my wife about my idea she said, “Maybe a little cock would do you some good.”

 Maybe a little cock would do me some good? Not the reply I was expecting or wanting to get from my wife, but it is an interesting thought and at this point in my mid-life I am willing to entertain it. What do I have to lose? I have been domesticated and am stuck at a real job now. The American Dream has turned my life into an uninspiring, dull and average nightmare which lacks art. Any chances of succeeding at my more anti-American dreams seems to have passed and a vast majority of productive life is now behind me. I have tried pills, porn, prostitutes, marijuana, shamans, diet regimes, exercise plans, detoxes, month long meditation retreats, art therapy, abstaining from parents, serious amounts of alcohol (which is the only thing that really works), séances, ceremonial sweats, solitude, bio-mats, crystal healing, daily blow jobs and many other things. Nothing has solved the problem of my mentally ill mind. I am desperate for a solution to this hell, which ravages my life in the same way that tornados ravage the large majority of poor people living in the Southeast/Midwest rooting for billionaire Trump. I blame my parents and the childhood traumas that they put me through for this mental illness that I must contend with every day now, but blame does me no good. It got me nowhere in my twenties and thirties. So maybe in my forties cock could work?

I have often heard it said that a repressed homosexuality can cause a man a great deal of uncontrollable and severe anxiety. As a psychotherapist, I work with gay men (who are having much more fun than the entire heterosexual community combined). They often talk about the tumultuous anxiety that they experienced before exposing themselves to cock and the complete absence of anxiety after. I often think that my gay clients seem unusually happy and that there must be some kind of connection between unlocking repressed sexual desires (cock) and life fulfillment. So why not give cock a try? If it could possibly help relieve me of this burdensome affliction that I carry around, why not?

I have always taken for fact the fact that I love women. I have always been able to identify and appreciate an attractive man (which there seem to be few of in comparison to the number of attractive women) but I have never felt compelled to want to see him naked or touch parts of his hot body in the same way that I want to reach out and touch an attractive woman. I am drawn to attractive women in the same way that I am drawn to food that I love. When I see it I want it. I desire women like a mosquito desires human blood. I want them. I love them. I lust them. They take me to the best parts of my life. I love seeing them nude and playing with their bodies in the same way that a child enjoys playing with toys. Playing with and watching women’s naked and attractive bodies induces anxiety free rainbows in my mind. I know I am using a lot of analogies here but it is important for me to communicate how much I love the female form. But still, maybe a little cock would do me some good?

Maybe this intense desire for women could be a cover up for my real longing for men? Oh God, this is a frightening thought but as a psychotherapist I am willing to be a dedicated practitioner of my profession and investigate this one all the way to its very tip, I mean end. When I see a woman I am attracted to, the impulse to want to touch her breasts or butt is so strong that it could be the result of a latent homosexuality that I am trying to hide from myself. This is possible yet when I see food that I really like and feel an intense desire to eat it, is this the result of simple hunger or because of something deeper down? After eight years of psychotherapeutic training I am conditioned to believe it is the result of something deeper down.

I will not conclude yet that I could be gay. This just feels wrong. I love women too much. But I have an entire weekend to explore if there may be some latent homosexuality in me that is causing me mental anguish. I am willing to go to a few gay bars and maybe a gay sex club in Los Angeles this weekend to see. I will put myself in precarious and unsettling situations where I can experience possible cock. Even if just for a minute or two. I feel absolutely no desire for male flesh that expands and contracts (right now), but maybe this is because something deeper is blocked in me and possibly my anxiety is the result of this blocked homosexual energy screaming to get out. Possibly. I am so desperate at this point in my-domesticated-and-mentally-ill-middle-class-life, that I am now more than ever willing to listen to my wife and see if cock could work.

The Evolution Of A Man Who Could Not Figure Things Out. Conversation #49.

Can you remind me what this is about? No use trying to fool me. I’ve got a good memory. I’d know right away. What was I saying?

-Roland Dubillard

 

So are we going to stop having these conversations with one another soon?

What do you mean one another?

You and I, having these conversations?

I don’t quite understand your question because there is no you and I. This is just me talking to myself.

It may seem that way. In a sense, maybe you are right but in another sense you and I are having a conversation.

Who is the you and who is the I?

Lets just say that you is the daily struggles, judgements, worries, fears and other thoughts that play out in your head, every moment of every day. I am more like the voice of reason. I am the one who is aware of all the thoughts that play out in your head every moment of every day but can offer you larger perspective.

I see. So you are my wiser half? You are the one who is more evolved in a personal growth/self-actualiziled kind of way?

Maybe. I am just the one who is aware of all of the various thoughts and emotions that play out in your head and body. I am more like a detached observer standing off to the side. I am not as caught up in or identified with the narrative of your life, as you are.

I see. You are just able to take a bigger perspective. You don’t get caught up in all the minutia.

Yes. I am always watching and aware of you. Always observing what you think and feel but keeping a safe distance from it all.

That is a good thing because what I often feel and think is pretty fucking negative.

I know. Trust me. I observe it all day long.

So if you are so wise and aware, why do I feel so pissed of right now?

Because you get so narrow minded. You focus in on all the bad shit without being able to maintain a broader perspective. Since we began having these conversations there have been many improvements in your life.

Like what?

You do not really watch pornography anymore.

I may go back to it….

Yes, but right now you are not watching it. You also no longer kill flies. You are just able to let them be or you help them to fly out the door and back into the wild. That is a great improvement from the murderous rampages that you used to go on.

There is a fly in my studio right now that I would like to kill. It is driving me nuts. But I won’t kill it.

The fact that you have just put on your noise cancellation headphones and have not killed it is a great and noticeable improvement in your behavior and life.

I guess this is true. A small improvement but an improvement none the less.

It is the small stuff that really matters. You also do not get pissed off as much.

I am pissed now.

Yes. But you are controlling it. You are not getting as pissed off as you once did.

This is true. But I feel frustrated right now. My wife refuses to keep the house clean. I have to waste my time always cleaning up after her. Not matter how many times I ask she seems incapable of keeping things clean and picking up after herself. If I want the house to look nice, to be organized, I have to do it and this upsets me. I have better things to be doing with my time! People are out there living their lives. Doing interesting things and I am either always cleaning my house and/or complaining about what a mess it is. I don’t know, it is getting old.

Look. We have had this conversation in the past. I don’t think this is a situation that will ever be resolved. You know now that you just get pissed off. If you are not getting upset about your house not being cleaned you will find something else to be pissed off about. You are just a pissed off man because of the fact that you feel stuck in your life. You feel like you have an inability to get to a place that you want to be. To do what you want. To succeed in a way that you want. And this keeps you pissed off. It is not really about the house. It is more about the lack of control that you feel over your own life. But do we really have to get into this again? We have discussed this a lot before.

Yes. I just often forget. I wish I was a dog, or a piece of celery, or a tomato.

Why? Thats ridiculous.

SO I could stop this continual struggle of needing to be this person that I want to be. So that I can stop needing to achieve anything and just be. This adult human life is so fucking complicated. Feels like there is so much going on. So much to keep together. So much to figure out. So much to take care of. I can’t keep up with it all. I am just not cut out for it. Maybe I should just smoke weed all the time. That seems to help take the edge off.

Maybe. You are a difficult person and you are less difficult when you smoke weed. When not under the influence of some substance you have a very difficult time feeling settled. You often feel sad and incomplete. You are always unhappy about something. I realize you are just overwhelmed and even at the age of 45 you still have yet to figure out how to figure it all out.

This is true. And now I have much less energy. Now I am feeling like I am just beginning to settle. Beginning to give up the fight because I do not know what else to do. I am stuck and just lack the energy to dig out of this hole. Maybe it would be easier just learning to settle. Just working my job. Reading my books. Cleaning my house. Taking care of my garden. Listening to music. Have various experiences with my wife and then gradually grow old and die. Maybe this is it. The evolution of a man who could not figure things out. Just live out whatever life I have left without worrying about needing to achieve anything extraordinary except simply getting by. Being able to make enough money to just support and live out the rest of my life. That is it. No other need to attain anything else great. Just an ordinary life.

Maybe. You could do this if you think you would be satisfied. It is always a possibility. Things would be easier in a sense. To just work your job and then spend the rest of your time just living your life. No need to make great art. No need to write novels. No need to find recognition as a writer and artist. To just let all of that go and live a peaceful domestic existence.

And then just die. Just disappear from time and space without leaving much of a mark.

You have left a mark. You have helped people. As a teacher and a therapist you have had a influential effect on many people. You have made a lot of great art and written a lot of things that will out live you and have an effect on some people.

Maybe. But I still have this feeling like I would die not having accomplished what I really wanted to do.

Which is?

Write novels. Be an artist. Make my living in creative and unconventional ways. I never really anticipated kind of becoming like my parents. I never anticipated just living a bourgeois life. Working my professional job as a therapist, supporting a household and just living my life.

What do you mean by just living my life?

I don’t know. Just living an ordinary life. Reading, sleeping, listening to music, feeding dogs, watering plants, meditating, worrying about making money, doing dishes, going to the market, exercising, watching movies, go out places with my wife, buying stuff, having occasional orgies, drawing, writing, paying bills, feeling like something is missing. You know stuff like that. A quiet life.

I am not sure what you are trying to say but I think what you are trying to saying is that you did not anticipate just being this ordinary guy. Just doing, in a way, what everyone else does. I think maybe for a long time you wanted to really be different from the crowd. You wanted to differentiate yourself and do something unconventional and great- like write novels. You did not really want to just be a professional who owns a home and lives a normal and quiet life. You wanted something different for yourself. Something more creative. Something that felt like it was your passion.

Yes. And I am not passionate about being a therapist. It is just what I do to earn a living.

I know. There are no easy answers. You have many fantastic things in your life. You are very fortunate in many ways. But I know that it feels like something vital and important is missing.

The fantastic and frustrated modern life of nobody in particular.

In a sense yes. I suppose it is a kind of existential crisis. But you know what?

What?

Everyone deals with all of this crap to some extent. Even the ones who are fortunate enough to make a living doing the thing they are passionate about. The important thing is that you keep doing the things that you are passionate about. Keep writing. Keep making art. Keep reading and listening to music. This is what will differentiate you from the masses since the vast majority of people just give up. They surrender all autonomy and uniqueness and just live very average and passionless lives. Even though you may never make a living doing what you are passionate about, you must keep doing the things you are passionate about so as not to become average. Becoming average is such a massive epidemic in America and even though you have to work an average job as a therapist you can still avoid becoming an average human being.

I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like being average would not be so bad. Things would be much easier in a way.

How so?

I don’t know. To just go to your job. Come home and watch tv or hang out. Spend weekends going out and pursuing hobbies. To not worry about all the larger questions or feel like you need to achieve something greater. Seems much easier this way.

Maybe. I really don’t know. I am sure that there are many struggles with this way of living as well. I think that the way life is set up in America is just one big struggle. It is all about working and achievement. Making money. No matter who you are, life in America is a drag. Culturally it is bankrupt. The vast majority of people are dead inside. N one escapes the existential crisis caused by life in America.

Maybe so. You really think it is different in other countries?

I really do. There is more living and life in most other countries. In America it is just about work, money, status, consumption and competition. Very totalitarian.

Utilitarian.

That also.

Yuck. I don’t like it one bit.

I know.

Well, I think we have said enough for today. Think about some of what we have talked about today and then lets have our final conversation tomorrow.

And then we will be done having these conversations?

I think so. I think we have said enough. Don’t you?

There is a lot more that I could talk about with you but yeah, I think we have covered a lot of territory. I will miss you.

I am always here.

Ok. Well, I will talk to you tomorrow.

Sounds good.

America: Land Of The Mentally Ill. Conversation #38.

You realize that the vast majority of people living in America are mentally ill.

Are you asking or telling me?

Telling.

I see. And what makes you think this?

I don’t think it. I know it. After working as a psychotherapist for the past fifteen years, I can confidently and without the slightest doubt, reach this conclusion.

Interesting.

Everyone is messed up.

Everyone? Really? Don’t you think that is a bit extreeme?

Why do you think meditation, yoga, psychotherapy, healthy eating, mass consumerism and psychiatric drugs have become so wide spread?

Why?

They are all ways that people are trying to deal with their mental illness. Almost everyone in America today has a mental illness, whether they know it or not.

How do you define mental illness?

A state of psychological unwellness. Chronic mental duress.

I see.

And you think most experience this on a regular basis?

Absolutely. The thing about America is that since almost everyone is mentally ill, mental illness has become the norm. This makes it easy to disguise one’s mental illness unless the mental illness is severe. Then this person will stand out.

Like a severe schizophrenic?

Yes. But a mild schizophrenic who is relatively functional and holds a job and/or has money will go relatively unnoticed as being schizophrenic in America.

There is even currently a Psychopathic/Narcissist running for President.

Exactly. Do you need any more proof than that?

A country that has an obviously Psychopath/Narcissist running for President has to be a country where the vast majority are mentally ill. I would say this is pretty good evidence that America is the land of the mentally ill.

Yes. You see, when the vast majority are mentally ill only very few know that they are mentally ill. Since the mentally ill are the masses and since the masses only pay attention to the masses, mental illness becomes normalized.

That is a frightening idea.

Do you think you are mentally ill?

Probably. You see, this is one of casualties of living in a country where the vast majority are mentally ill. Even if you are not one of the masses, even if you are relatively mentally healthy you will experience some degree of mental illness just by having to be surrounded by mentally ill people. It becomes difficult to escape. I think this is why I drink. In fact, I want a whiskey now just from talking about this.

Yes, you should have some whiskey. It is not yet 5pm and you are obviously developing an alcohol problem, but it is Saturday so what the hell.

Yes. What the hell. Why not.

Cheers.

The Prolific Negative Thinker. Conversation #24.

You think you are a negative thinker?

What do you think? You would know best.

Absolutely. You absolutely are. I would say the majority of your thoughts are negative.

What percent?

Probably 97%.

That high?

Yes. Without a doubt. You are either thinking about worst case scenarios (worrying), judging yourself or judging others (especially your wife). This is what you do most of the time.

It’s not good.

Look at yourself now. Your wife just said to you, “I hope you have a lovely day babe,” before she left. How did you respond?

I said, “Do I have to? Do I have to have that expectation?”

Exactly. Would you not say that was negative?

Yes. It was also honest. I am a bit tired of all these expectations to be happy, to be filled with joy, to be peace, to have a wonderful day, to be redeemed.

I see.

Maybe I want to be irredeemable. Maybe this positive psychology expectation to be happy, to be filled with love and joy is just not a pitcher of Kool-Aid I am willing to swallow. It is such a California thing. Why do I have to be happy? What is so great about being happy?

You don’t. But all these negative thoughts are causing you to be unwell. Look at how your chest feels constricted right now. Notice how you are having a difficult time breathing? Notice that heavy weight on your shoulders and chest? That can’t be good for you.

I know. But I can’t seem to stop these negative thoughts. They just happen and take me over. I try to meditate, recite a mantra, exercise. None of it seems to work. I just have to wait it out and eventually it will pass. But it is true my mind seems to judge, worry, criticize constantly. Negative thought after negative thought.

Angry about this. Worrying about that. Constantly.

Yup. I don’t know how to stop it. My father was and still is an angry man. Grew up with him upset and yelling continually. My mother is and was a depressive worrier. I seem to be programed to be a negative thinker. It is in my blood.

Probably true. You did grow up in a very tense and hostile environment. There was a lot of negativity floating around all the time.

Yes. But back then it was just normal. Now I am aware that it is not normal. It is fucked up. So many years spent being unaware of all this negativity. Now at least because of meditation, I know when it is there and I try not to get too caught up in it. But it is a constant struggle. Often it wins. Sometimes it doesn’t and I just wait for it to go away. It sucks. It feels like some sort of illness.

It is a mental illness.

You think?

I do. Without a doubt. You have an undiagnosed mental illness.

Wow! That is a radical thing to say.

Probably full on Borderline Personality Disorder.

What?!

A brain that is as negative as your is is not a place of well being and health.

Well I don’t know what to say. I know I am a prolific negative thinker. Seems to be my destiny. I do what I can about it but the rest I need to accept. It is just the way it goes. All I can really do is just be aware of it and try not to get too identified with it.

As a mindfulness meditation teacher this is what you teach other people to do. So at a very intense level, you are being challenged to do the same thing.

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”

This is your favorite quote?

It is. It sums up my entire practice. I am learning how to just leave the negativity alone. Don’t need to fuck with it all the time. Just need to be able to let it be. IT will come and IT will go. This will be my life.

Probably true. It is a kind of chronic illness that at this point you can only learn to live with.

Yes. Besides, I do not want to be happy and positive all the time. That sounds incredibly dull. I like a certain amount of negativity. Keeps things dark and interesting.

But you have way too much negativity.

This is true. I know. Just talking about it now is helpful. I feel better- like I have let some things go. I will be spending the rest of today alone so hopefully I can just be with myself and let a lot of the negativity go.

Sounds good. What are you going to do with your time alone?

I just want to read, listen to some records, take a nap, meditate once more and maybe do some drawing. Just go easy.

Sounds about right. Just do the things you like to do today. Hopefully it will help you to calm some of your negativity down.

Ok. Well thanks for talking.

Your welcome. Enjoy your solitude.

MY DISTURBED BRAIN (fear and loathing)

Why do you say this?

What?

That your brain is distrubed.

Because it is.

Why?

It is almost always working against me.

How?

Well……..Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with my brain racing. It was churning at a high speed. So many vertiginous thoughts happening one after the next.

Vertiginous. Thats a good word.

Pulled it out from nowhere.

Good job. Your mind can’t be that disturbed to think up words like that.

Defenestration.

Thats a good one also.

My favorite word.

Lets get back on track. So you woke up in the middle of the night with a brain running wild?

Yes. And it kept me up all night. Thought after thought after thought after thought.

This is weird since you are such an advocate for staying present and not getting caught up in thought.

I know. I tried all of my meditation techniques but they did not really work. May have made a subtle difference but did not work much. I realized that my brain is really disturbed. It just is continually sneaking off into the past and the future. It is always judging and worrying about what could happen in the future. It is continually resenting people and things that happened in the past. My brain causes me a great deal of worry, fear, anger, resentment and on and on. It seems to sabotage my well-being and contentment in the present moment.

Why do you think this?

It is just always what it is doing! It is messed up. I don’t want to drink. It starts to tell me how I should just have a few drinks. I don’t want to watch porn. It starts to remind me how great and fun watching porn is. It seems my brain is programed to work against me!

Hmm. Seems like your brain continually thinks of things in the future. You brain is preoccupied with what future event could be like. It has a very difficult time just staying right here, right now.

Yes. And not just that. I can not trust my brain. It is not rational. For example, yesterday I did not want to go to work. I often do not want to go to work. I think that I dislike my job. I loath it. Then I go to work and come home from work and realize that that was not so bad. Now I have some money. I think that I should be more grateful for the job I have. I should be more interested in it. Then I realize that I do not have as many clients as I would like. Various clients keep canceling on me. I am working less than I need to. So I wake up in the middle of the night worried about money. Worried about not being able to get enough clients. Worried that I will have to find a different job. Worried that I am not making enough money. Angry that clients are canceling on me.

Sounds like madness.

It is! One minute I loath going to work. Then I am terrified of not having enough work. I panic because I feel like my business is falling apart.

You would think you would be happy that you do not have to work as much right now!

I know! But I am not! I am worried about it. I have bills to pay! And then why do I always loathe going to work but after work I feel like I should have more gratitude and that I am so lucky to have the job I do? It is just craziness.

Sounds like you are very confused.

Obviously.

What is a better word for confusion?

Vertigo.

Yes. You have psychological vertigo.

Thanks. But can’t you provide me with any deeper insights than that?

All I can really do is agree with you that your brain is disturbed. I think you are correct. You may even have a slight mental illness. You need to meditate regularly. You need to get a good nights sleep. But most importantly my friend…..

Are we friends?

Yes, I think we are. I am just the wiser and more insightful part of you.

Ok.

Most importantly, you need to stay present. In this moment, right now, you are fine. You have a roof over your head, you have some work, you have your health, you have food. You are doing ok right now. Do not get too far ahead of yourself. I realize that you are making less money right now and that can feel scary, but you are ok. Let the past and the future go. You can worry, worry, stress about what the future is going to look like but you really do not have much control over how the future will play out. You don’t know that there will not be a major earthquake in twenty minutes that wipes everything out. Worrying about the future is useless. Your disturbed brain will project worst case scenarios into the future. It is like throwing a pebble into the ocean- you have no real clue where it will land. Don’t listen to your brain. Enjoy your life right now. Stay present. Practice what you preach.

Yes. I agree. It is just very difficult. Seems my brain sneaks off into the future or past without my permission. It causes my entire nervous system to freak out. Do you think this has anything with being Jewish?

I do. I think us Jews have a predisposition to unnecessarily freak out and see gloom and doom on the horizon.

Our brains are wired to worry.

Yes. But please. No Porn. No booze. Smoke a little weed if you want. Stay present. Really work on just being here right now and reminding yourself that everything is fine right now.

Moment by moment.

Yes, that is it. Take life moment by moment. Time for me to take off.

Where is it that you go when you are not here?

Far away from your disturbed brain. It ain’t much fun being in there when it is acting up.

I understand.