Thursday, September 18, 2008

“While he was thus lamenting his fate, he went on eating.”

I find myself regularly remembering a line from Cunningham's The Hours:
He was the person she loved at her most optimistic moment.
Romantic love's not necessarily even the primary issue these days, though it — or its absence — is a major thematic thread. I'm having trouble remembering what my most optimistic moment was, or if I ever had one.

I think I had one, because I know that there was a time when life seemed full of possibilities, even if I didn't know what they were. There was still excitement and discovery somewhere around the bend, and it's what prodded me on toward California and Africa once upon a time, without caring whether I had a plan or if I really knew what I was doing.

At some point, those undefined possibilities became unfocused dreams and maybe too many questions. They also ran headlong into financial and other practical realities, which now, more critically, include the non-negotiable requirements of comprehensive health insurance and an eternal (truly) regimen of expensive medications.

I've spent a lot of time learning (or unlearning) how to avoid getting stuck in the whirlpool of dissatisfaction. Buddhist philosophy and meditation experience (though not nearly enough of the latter) have helped substantially in that regard, but I still get stuck in this dilemma, which is maybe really more of a cliche: "Is that all there is?"

About a month ago, my answer to that would have been that it really didn't matter, and that I was ready for "this" or "that" to be all there is. This week, I'm not so sure.

I feel like I need to figure out something to look forward to other than more of the same. I don't believe in the hamster-wheel of discontent, but what's the answer?

Why do I sometimes feel this emptiness or this desire for something I can't even define... feel it so strongly that I want to thrash and scream until I figure out the answer?

Why haven't I grown up? What would that even feel like? Will I ever really be content?

Does anyone else feel this way?

What defines a whiny, lazy, loser?


Anonymous said...

I don't know you but I read your blog and comments on Joe My God and I think you said you are around 40. Welcome to middle age, old boy. You are having the classic signs of the middle age crisis. Is that all there is = mid life crisis theme song. At 40, you realize that you're nearing the half way mark to your own death (80 is now the median even with HIV there is no reason not to reach 80 or more). You're looking back and seeing broken dreams and promised unfulfilled.

Look into your own posts here for your answers. Look at how differently you describe the place you are from and the family you have there. Look how differently you describe your passions like food and travel and language and whatever. I think you have trapped yourself by your obsessing over your med benefits. Find out if you can get benefits some other way to pay for your meds -- are there no jobs in the New Jersey area with benefits? Maybe you should return to school, become a chef, move back to Jersey and work in NYC? You need to dream again. Hope you take all of this in the spirit it was meant: to help (you may also want to do a bit of counselling with a pro just to check in). Good luck.

Papagayo said...

you don't seem like a loser to me

Michele said...

Humanity. You are not alone - you are just a smart person and often it's more of a challenge to be aware.

Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

This post could have been written by me at many points in my life. I've really been "stuck" there many times during the past few years. Much of it was after the long care for my ailing parents and their deaths. Once they were both gone two years ago I thought it would get better but it only got worse. The past few months the tide has really turned, and seems to have been by odd, unexpected coincidences not all the analysis, meditation, introspection, etc. that I tried to push myself out of it. I'm beginning to see that those things contributed to the turn of the tide, but it didn't happen immediately . Getting a dog helped too, and they sort of force you into a nice routine and make you more social. And after months of trying, without realizing it I lost 2/3rds of the weight I've being wanting to drop.

BigAssBelle said...

whiny lazy loser? hardly.

Why do I sometimes feel this emptiness or this desire for something I can't even define... feel it so strongly that I want to thrash and scream until I figure out the answer?

i think it's how we're made. sometimes i think it's a spiritual lack. i don't mean church spiritual, just connection-spiritual.

sometimes i think the perpetual state of looking forward to something prevents our having to face the void within. but when there's nothing to look forward to, it rises up and makes its presence known.

once i had such a state of spiritual awareness that i felt like i was walking around in a golden spotlight of wellbeing and love. lord, i miss that. i'm so full of anger now that i couldn't possibly get there again. i need years of ugly emotion detox before i can try to find that place.

the thing i remember from my years in AA is that i'm told it is only within that my answer ~ my power ~ will be found.

We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found . . . search diligently within yourself . . . With this attitude you cannot fail. The consciousness of your belief is sure to come to you. AA big book, p. 55

i am not sure i believe it anymore, though. so i'm no help to you. all i know is that i had it once and it was incredible. and now i've lost it and i'm lost as a result.

i could have avoided writing all that and only said this: i hear you.

thanks for the therapy this morning, joe.