No Angel

I dreamt you were an angel,
  Yet you are not an angel.
You move with an indescribable grace and elegance.
Sitting across from you I’m amazed by your every movement.
  I know I shouldn’t stare but I can’t look away!

“Why do guys always want to date?” you ask me casually,
  Oblivious to the arrows your question has rained on my heart.
Because you are a beautiful, smart, intelligent woman.
Because you are desirable.
Because you are sensitive.
Because, despite all your objections to the contrary, you do ultimately long for a union
  that is physical, intellectual, emotion, and spiritual.

Despite, being no angel,
  any man would be lucky to have you as a partner.
You are not an angel.
You are not an angel.
You are not an angel.

I’m a thirsty ghost.
  forever suffering an unquenchable thirst.
Set adrift upon an infinite sea
  The saltwater only makes me thirstier,
  So I drink more!
I drift and drink, drink and drift,
  alone,..
Hoping against hope that the next swallow will not be filled with salt.

I mustn’t drink any more today,
  but my thirst grows and grows…
  Maybe just a small sip?
Yes! Just one more small sip!
Surely tomorrow, surely tomorrow I can find some fresh water.
Tomorrow….

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Day 14 – My Climb Out of Depression

Yesterday’s choices were completely unskillful!  Blah.

I have the implicit deadline of my savings account yet I procrastinate, postpone, and ruminate. I am frozen in inactivity, smothered by my own lethargic lack of momentum.

Going to start with basics!  Just do one new thing for myself every day.  Just one small thing today that is healthy, helpful, beneficial to myself.  Just one thing! Surely I can manage that. 

I will add one new thing each day until I’m doing FIVE good things per day.

  1. Meditate at least once per day (ideally for 1 hour)
  2. Exercise: go to the gym, walk, do yoga, move!
  3. Connect with at least one other person per day (through a “non-virtual” medium – FACEBOOK, Twitter, Blogging, Text messages don’t count!)
  4. Look for (suitable) employment
  5. Meditate a second time per day (ideally for a second 1 hour period)

That’s just FIVE things!  I can do that!  But I’m only going to add one new thing per day; I feel so fragile right now.

I was thinking about how I’m seldom ever just being mindful of what my primary activity or object of engagement is.  Then I thought about the end of “City Slickers.”  I loved how the main character (Billy Crystal) has embarked upon the adventure of a vacation at a “dude ranch” to rediscover his happiness.  Jack Palance is “Yoda” to Crystal’s “Luke Skywalker.”  When asked about his own key to happiness, Palance, in an understated zen moment, simply holds up one finger.  There’s a simple brilliance here that I think we may have lost with the explosion of widespread, cheap, consumer electronics and the ubiquitous “internet.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete Luddite (I doubt they blog) but I am shocked to see just how seldom I’m truly mindful or focused on just one task at a time.  I am always absorbed by multiple tasks, goals, strategies.  And many of my distractions arise out of being “uber-connected.”  I need to put these things down from time to time.  Need to re-learn how to do just one thing at a time.

When I began to assemble an online job search and set of professional associations, I don’t simply select one or two and really do it thoroughly.  No, I pick eight!  As a consequence, I never seem to reap the benefits of any of the efforts.

I’m never reading just one book at a time.  I always have at least two physical books on me, as well as several on my Kindle and there’s a stack of books on my nightstand that I feel guilty about not having read already.

When I begin to itemize my hobby goals, I seem to be forever incapable of taking one idea to completion.  Rather, I jot down ideas and sketches for thirty different projects in several different “to-do” notebooks.  And that is where they stay.  Some of those ideas have been trapped on paper for decades.  And sometimes I think such projects and zeal could indeed be my existential reason for living.  They deserve my attention and my focus. 

 

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Day 13 AM Entry – My Climb Out of Depression

All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a corrupted mind,
And suffering follows
As the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
And happiness follows
Like a never-departing shadow.

Dhammapada

I choose my actions and thoughts.

I need to own my choices.  I KNOW unskillful choices lead to unhappiness and skillful choices lead to happiness.  I know this!  Yet I persist day after day in making the same bad choices.  Why?  Why must I be so lazy?  So committed to my unhappiness? 

The actions I make, I choose to make.  There is no one standing over me, coercing me to play endlessly with my iPhone, check my emails, sit for hours doing nothing, preventing me from looking for a job or stopping me from going the gym on a regular basis.  Yet day after day those are indeed my actions. 

The thoughts I think, I choose to think.  There is no one forcing me to constantly ruminate, fantasize, daydream, or feel sorry for myself.  Yet day after day those are indeed my thoughts.

But the fact that I choose my thoughts might be less obvious to me since I’ve grown so accustomed to their eternal presence and niggling ways.  I’m usually so identified with and absorbed by my thoughts that I long ago began thinking my thoughts are ‘me!’  And perhaps this is the real key, the real beauty behind the mindfulness practices.  Through mindfulness I’m thrilled to learn that my thoughts are just thoughts.  That I am not my thoughts, nor or my thoughts ‘real.’  The problem is I’m being unmindful most of the time and as a consequence I no longer own my thoughts, my thoughts own me.  (I think this complex of overly identifying with our thoughts is what Eckhart Tolle means when he speaks of the “pain body.”)

I used to think words like ‘wholesome’ and ‘sin’ were corny.  I no longer think so.  I see how ‘sins’ aren’t just ‘bad’ (whatever that means) because some ‘God’ (who may or may not even exist) doesn’t want us to do them.  They are bad because they lead to suffering.  And this suffering (or ‘karma’ if you prefer) isn’t postponed to some future hell or purgatory, it happens immediately.  Our karma is the net effect of all our intentions.  When I foolishly engage in the three poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion, I create suffering, both for myself as well as others.

So I should endeavor to own all my choices, good or bad.  If I choose wisely, I will say “yes” to the things which elevate my consciousness and that create no suffering.  If I choose poorly, I will continue to keep my consciousness submerged in a deluded sea of suffering where I believe I am my thoughts and that I have no choice but to think them.

 I’ve titled my blog “Thoughts from the Cushion” yet so far, that is exactly what has been curiously absent.  I need to post about my choices, about my practice and about my freeing myself from this awful depression.

 

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Day 12 AM Entry – My Climb Out of Depression

I know, I know! “What happened to Days 9, 10, & 11?”  We don’t need no steenking days 9, 10, & 11!  There’s a reason depression kills people.  I heard someone once describe depression as being excessively self-indulgent and this rings true to me. I am depressed.  I have made an utter mess of my brain chemistry by going on and off antidepressants, engaging in endless self-pitying and rumination, constantly fiddling with my phone, checking emails, etc., etc., etc., Lather, rinse, repeat. Blah!  Too much time “online.”

The more I think (which is not what I should be doing) the less I believe in anything eternal.  The idea of an infinitely long heaven or hell make no sense whatsoever to me.  Yet so many people seem to accept such beliefs without question.  Who am I to deny them such consolation?  No one, that’s who.  But still they strut around with such arrogance that I just want to scream at them to wake up!  (This is not compassion, I definitely need to find my way back to my meditation practice.  And to be fair some of them hold their beliefs more loosely and make no claims as to what heaven or hell are like.)

I offer these thoughts then I will leave the subject for an indefinite period of time.

Thinking about “hell” the other day and I remembered an atheist friend of mine just casually saying that it didn’t make sense – an infinite amount of suffering for a finite amount of sins. That planted a serious seed of doubt in my head – which is not to say that I believed in “hell” prior to hearing this thought, I was just surprised how it never occured to me to think such a thought before or how it seemingly never enters the minds of believers.  Again for long time I thought if there were anything that survives the passing of my body that it does so outside of time.  In other words “eternity” is not a long, long, long ass time; it is in fact outside of or orthogonal to time and beyond all dualities. 

Here’s a scenario to consider when thinking about the popularized notions of hell.  Imagine you’re 16 and living at home with your mom, dad and 14 year old sister, “Alyssa.”  For weeks Alyssa has been violating her curfew.  Your mom, who has never been anything less than completely devoted to both you and your sister, has repeatedly warned Alyssa that if she continues to violate her curfew she will be punished.  She even tells her what form the punishment will take; she will lock Alyssa (who is terrified of the dark) in the pitch dark, rat-infested, dank, moldy basement.  Alyssa is not deterred.  Next day she comes home late and your loving mother escorts Alyssa to the basement door, pushes her in and locks the door.  Imagine what kind of mother could do such a thing.  Now such an example would make you certainly tow the line for all the rules she’s laid down for you but would you “love” her?  I think you’d fear her but whatever reservoir of love you’d had for your mother would slowly dissolve. How could you ever feel loved in that house again knowing that your sister was suffering day after day in the horrible basement?

Back to Alyssa, you eye the basement door nervously waiting for the punishment to end. Fortunately for you the door is soundproofed so you can not hear the Alyssa’s torturous cries. But you know she is and you feel awful for her.  Hours pass and your mother does nothing.  She leaves Alyssa in the place she fears the most for four days!  Now in a sense Alyssa DID bring this punishment on herself.  She was forewarned. But still how could your loving mother be so callous to her daughter’s excessive suffering.  I can think of NO loving, sane, healthy mother that would discipline her child in such a manner. Not one, can you?  No imagine a mother that doesn’t just leave Alyssa in the basement for only four days, but for the rest of her life (which is but a nanosecond next to eternity).  Is that a mother you could love? 

The idea that a loving God could put anyone in a lake of fire for eternity is patently ridiculous.  Such a God would not be love; such a god would be a monster.  No one, not Hitler, not Stalin, no one deserves an infinite amount of punishment.  I am surprised just how long I believed this nonsense. 

Religion should help people suffer less, live better lives, reach their potential NOW!  The idea of eternity is an idea that needs to die. 

But hey man, what do I know?  I’m just a guy who is painfully aware of his finitude and the absurdity of all of this.  All of this is

 

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Day 8, AM Entry – My Climb Out of Depression

I’ve been making these entries first thing each morning. This is not optimal. I’m so busy with rumination, acting out obsessive compulsive behavioral pattern, that I think I’m viewing this entry as the only thing I need to do each day and once I get it done I’m free to goof around the rest of the day. This is not healthy and not helping me move to a healthier state of being. I’m going to start making these entries in the evening. I’ve gotta find some focus the urge to run away is not getting any smaller.

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Day 7 – My Climb BACK DOWN INTO Depression

Damn it! This is ridiculous! I know what will make me happy, what lifts my consciousness and what does not! I know if I busy myself with FaceBook browsing, watching movie after movie on Netflix, reading excessively, endlessly checking my games status on my iPhone, then I will not be happy. That I will end up ruminating and suffering more.

I don’t want to do anythying! Which is why I must!

The things that make me happy:

  1. Exercise
  2. Yoga
  3. Meditation
  4. Creating
  5. Learning

If I’m not busy with one of  these or looking for a job (which I really, really don’t want to do but must), then I’m going to end up in some obsessive acting out or ruminating.  I’m an excellent ruminater!  Man I so wish I wasn’t.

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Day 6 – My Climb Out of Depression

I hate appearing as weak or ineffectual to her. I think there could be something important still to play out betwen us… Maybe my confession of depression has ruined that possibility. It’s too late to worry about that now; the proverbial cat has escaped the proverbial bag.  It is what it is. Still it hurts.

The sleep aid the doctor prescribed is  too strong by half!  It left me dry-mouthed, sleepy but unable to sleep.  I don’t think I’ll continue with those.  Taking Wellbutrin again; hope it helps.

Suicide still feels like a logical continuation. I am aware that the mood I’m currently in is temporary.  But when I look back  over my life there has been very little happiness overall.  I feel like I never get what I want.  Or perhaps I’ve simply always been over-reactive and the failure to get what I want during formative years has imprinted me with shame and unworthiness.  That’s probably a better perspective.  And one that  lends itself to improvement through meditation.

So many things to do… Still I spin, spin, spin my wheels!  Really need to prioritize my lists.

Feel like running away.

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